In August 2012, Pamela and Ronald Wyman swapped their five-story, 1880s New York City brownstone along the Hudson River—which they’d operated as a B&B for 35 years—for a big Southern “showboat” of a manse overlooking Colonial Lake. In doing so, they dove into a two-year restoration that had the native Northerners camping out in their own home, moving a bed, dresser, table, and chairs from room to room as work progressed through Lowcountry summers sans AC and winters without heat.
“Why?” you might ask. In Charleston, the Wymans had found the perfect “big little city” for the simpler lifestyle they craved, and in Belvedere, the ideal historic home—one that wasn’t a single house (“We’d lived for decades with the railroad-style layout,” says Ronald). Plus, the place had been a B&B for years; the Wymans would live in the main residence and transform an upstairs innkeeper’s apartment into a self-catered bed and breakfast.
But first, Ronald, as general contractor, had to guide an extensive restoration. The house had been built around 1900 by Charleston’s leading Colonial Revival architect, Albert W. Todd, who designed a plain interior in keeping with the “modern” style. Then in 1925, Dr. William Frampton came on the scene, adding crystal chandeliers and parquet hardwood floors. He garnished with Adamesque-style woodwork—cornices, door and window surrounds, mantels, and wainscotting. Some he’d rescued from the circa-1800 Belvidere Plantation (which had become part of the Charleston Country Club in 1901) before it was demolished under the ownership of the Standard Oil Company. The rest, Frampton skillfully crafted himself. “He’s the hero of this story—he brought all the glamour,” says Pamela.
Today, that glamour gleams anew. “Hopefully, in 50 years, someone will talk about the great work that Todd did here, and Frampton—and the Wymans, too,” Pamela reflects.
Making Old New
A few highlights of the Wymans’ work at Belvedere
➼Sanded and repainted all decorative woodwork: eight mantels, cornices, wainscotting, and window and door surrounds.
➼Utilized CAD technology to replicate the dining room mantel’s woodwork for cabinets newly built to flank it.
➼Removed wallpaper from walls and, yes, even ceilings—and fixed all the cracked plasterwork it concealed.
➼Installed central heating and air, plus new electricity and plumbing; this involved tweaking the roof line to accommodate a utility room.
➼Created a two-bedroom vacation rental unit complete with living room, kitchen, and private entrance. See photos at www.belvederecharleston.com.