A 1904 building, which started out as a single-family home, evolved into a women’s college and later into a law office, has been completely gutted and renovated into two Airbnbs on Court Street.
When Jonathan Baker purchased 1004 Court St. in 2018, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it.
He toyed with the idea of just making it into a long-term rental or even commercial space. After two years of renovations, it’s now been broken into a first- and second-floor unit for Airbnb use. The first-floor unit, offering 2,000 square-feet of space, has two bedrooms and the upstairs unit, also 2,000 square-feet, has three bedrooms.
He’s named it “The Dorchester” — a nod to his father who redeveloped the street Baker grew up on in Dorchester County, Maryland.
Baker said the law office had several rooms so he first started taking wall after wall down to open the space back up and let more light in.
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“I hauled hundreds of tons of plaster to the dump,” he said.
The spaces feature 12-foot ceilings, original archways, large windows, exposed brick and lots of house plants.
Baker envisioned keeping its old house character along with its baseboards and floors. When he pulled up the old carpet, there he found original hardwood.
“We wanted to keep the old style but add in modern touches,” he said.
Sarah Girten, owner of Sarah Girten Interior Design, who did the design of the building, said the lawyer’s office on the first floor was floor-to-ceiling dark wood paneling with old carpet in desperate need of updating.
“We went to go measure on the hottest day of the year,” she said. “We were in there for four hours.”
Girten and Baker uncovered beautiful archways on both the first and second floors that had been partially covered up and are now exposed. They also pulled down plaster to expose the original brick in the house, which can be found in parts of almost every room.
The second floor was being used as an apartment but walls also were taken down there to create a larger, more open living and dining room space that connects to the kitchen.
An extra set of stairs leading upstairs were taken out and allowed for a new bathroom and laundry space.
Girten said the floor aggressively sloped on both stories but the top floor especially due to the building being settled in the back, creating a slope. Work crews were able raise it and level the building.
She said it was important to Baker to keep the integrity of the 1904 home while also bringing in some modern fixtures to make the space more updated and approachable.
“We wanted it to be a nod to what it used to be and let the design and charm speak for itself,” she said. “We also wanted it to be an approachable and updated space without going too wild.”
Some of her favorite aspects of the Airbnb now are the foyer, which have a new light fixture and wallpaper, the original mantles, banister, hardwood floors and fireplaces throughout the space and the marble bathrooms with hexagon penny titles.
What has become an original “art” piece above one of the bedrooms in the upstairs unit is certainly an eye-catcher.
When Baker and Girten were peeling down wallpaper, they discovered multiple layers of it and decided to keep parts of each wallpaper creating what Baker thinks now looks like an old world map above the bed.
The downstairs unit connects to a private balcony and patio area with a gas grill and gas fire pit.
When Baker first got the property, the back porch was about one strong wind from completely falling down. The patio area had a few large trees and over grown shrubs.
“I was able to save the original roof on the porch and rebuild it,” he said. “One tree had grown up and knocked out the corner of the back wall with many large stones falling down to area below. I repaired the back wall that was probably built in the mid-1800s and the stones on the back wall most likely came from the canal system along the James and were repurposed when trains replaced the canals and batteaux.”
Girten said the project was so much fun because they were able to uncover and see so much of the home’s history.
“We wanted to embrace that it is a house that is 120 years old and keep that integrity instead of trying to make it feel like a brand new house,” she said. “We talked about making it into a commercial space for a little bit but I love now that is an Airbnb. So it’s something that a lot of people get to experience.”
Photos: Old home charm restored in Court Street building
Know a house that should be featured in Welcome Home? Email Carrie J. Sidener, city editor, at [email protected]