Preservation Awards series: Toad Hall adds to fabled history

  • Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 12:01 a.m.
The renovated stables at Toad Hall, winner of the 2014 Stewardship Award. (Photo by Ben Baugh)
The renovated stables at Toad Hall, winner of the 2014 Stewardship Award. (Photo by Ben Baugh)

Editor's note: This is one story in a series highlighting the winners of the Historic Aiken Foundation's 2014 Preservation Awards.

Fact Box

Historic Aiken Foundation's 2014 Preservation Award winners:

• Stewardship Award: Jacqueline Ohrstrom for Toad Hall and Stables.

• President's Award: Mead Hall Episcopal School for the preservation of the Aiken Preparatory School campus.

• Leadership Award: Myrtle Anderson and Maggie and David Sacks for Newberry Hall.

• Claudia Phelps Award: Jack Wetzel for The Gardens.

• Wllds-Lipe Treasured Home Award: Sarah and Jim Wildasin for Rye Fields and Phyllis and Bobby Coker for Coker Cottage.

Historic Aiken Foundation's Preservation Award winners

According to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, a princess may have to kiss a lot of frogs before she finds her prince, and sometimes that can apply to the home of your dreams, such as in the case of Jacqueline Ohrstrom and Toad Hall.

Ohrstrom was recognized by the Historic Aiken Foundation with the 2014 Stewardship Award for her restoration efforts of Toad Hall, formerly known as the Lulworth Lodge Carriage-House.

Ohrstrom purchased the home she lives in on Magnolia Avenue in 2010, but it was the parcel of land adjacent to her property that had formerly been the carriage house of Lulworth Lodge. The home and barns had been converted into a bed and breakfast and had fallen into disrepair. Ohrstrom didn't know the structure had been named Lulworth Lodge until she was thoroughly involved with the restoration of the house. The primary house and adjoining dwelling and stables are now known as Toad Hall.

Lulworth Lodge Carriage-House, circa 1929, was designed by renowned architect Willis Irvin.

“My husband's family house in Greenwich, Connecticut was named Toad Hall,” said Ohrstrom. “He loved the name. It (the house) was a frog that needed a kiss. We're smooching it all the time.”

The original property had been divided, and the adjacent parcel was in a state of disarray and wasn't for sale.

“I called David Stinson, my realtor, and he managed to acquire the impossible for me,” said Ohrstrom.

“And not leaving well enough alone, I studied the history of the place next door, and realized that it was also a Willis Irvin, and at one time part of this property. It had been sold off in the late 1950s, subdivided, and turned into a bed and breakfast. I have Willis Irvin's original drawing of the house.”

The adjacent property remained an objective for Ohrstrom, and her patient persistence paid off. Through Stinson's efforts, Ohrstrom acquired the tract of land. It had originally been the grooms' quarters and stables for the main house, she said.

“I used aerial photos from the 1930s to help put the place back together,” said Ohrstrom. “It's surprising that somebody flew over and took these wonderful photos.”

The property was closed on in July 2013, and by the end of the month, Larlee Construction began the process of renovating the property, removing trees and taking down the fence between the two properties. A lot of people didn't know what the house looked like because there were trees and bushes obstructing the view of the property.

“There was a lot of site work in the beginning,” said Grant Larlee. “The house originally had aluminum siding on it and had been converted to a residence. When the aluminum siding had been installed, they cut off a lot of the architectural details. We had to restore those.”

Work began on the barns to refurbish the stables to their former glory. It's the first time horses have resided in the stalls in 60 years, said Ohrstrom.

“The far wing of the barn had been converted to a sitting room, a bathroom and a laundry room,” said Larlee. “So, we gutted those. We added one stall to each side, so there's five stalls on each side – one of them is a wash stall. And when we were concentrating on getting the horse barn ready, we took the old kitchen for the tack room, took one of the back bedrooms as an extension of the tack room, so there's one bedroom on the other side. We're concentrating on the two-story structure. We're restoring it back to a trainer's quarters.”

Ohrstrom flagged the trees she wanted removed between the two properties, said Larlee.

“It's a pretty unique property,” said Larlee. “It's rare that someone puts two of them back together, and puts it back to its original state as a horse barn. When you walk back on this property and look at it now, see it from the road and it's all one, it's neat because so many of these places have been divided.”

Ohrstrom is passionate about Aiken, believes the climate is excellent for her carriage and race horses, and is convinced the footing has played a large role in their success.

“This is a historic area that deserves to be treated preciously and preserved,” said Ohrstrom. “I'm going to put this whole property in easement, so it can't be broken up again. It will stay just like it is.”

Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.

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