An Extraordinary 18th Century Fredericksburg,Virginia Estate Restoration

John Cay stands beside an antique plaster bust of Napoléon.
John Cay stands beside an antique plaster bust of Napoléon- Architectural Digest

Architectural Digest covered a breathtaking restoration of an 18th-century house situated about 20 miles southeast of Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Cay and his wife, Billings, bought Rose Hill and it’s 300 acres in 2008, with the thought that some day it could be restored to something great.  John Cay, didn’t step into the estate as you see in the pictures, but rather purchased the property when it was at it’s worst. The  T-shaped house had been destroyed in a 1959 fire and poorly rebuilt, so it certainly was a challenge so to say. Cay put together an exceptional team that included Frederick Ecker II, whose firm, Tidewater Preservation, has revived dozens of National Historic Landmarks, and Amelia T. Handegan, a South Carolina decorator who had previously worked with the Cays on their 1730s cottage in Charleston to carry out their vision.

The restoration was anything but easy.  In order to install new floor joists on the second story, the house’s entire upper section had to be temporarily removed.  The workers had to carefully dance around the dining room’s rickety plaster walls, in order that they didn’t crack.  In addition, the dining room’s Dufour wallpaper was ruined in the 1959 fire, so it had to be replaced with an identical example.

This article was published in the June 2013 issue of Architectural Digest


An antique tole chandelier from Parc Monceau is suspended above an English breakfast table