‘A labor of love’
Published 7:50 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016
When Lee and Julie Hostler arrived at the old brick home more than a year and a half ago — after meandering down the long driveway off Route 15 near the Charlotte and Prince Edward county line — they found overgrown grass, bushes taller than the windows, more than 100 boxwood trees growing out of control and a pool that had become a meeting place for reptiles.
Fast forward to today from the not-so-far distant past when the husband and wife were sitting in an Appomattox restaurant looking through real estate listings and the two call the restoration of The 1752 Estate a labor of love and a blessing.
“She needed a lot of work. A lot of work,” Julie said, seated in the formal living room of the restored home.
Creating the event and wedding venue, repairing and restoring the large, spacious brick home and bringing 118 acres back to life was not easy.
Lee and Julie, along with their sons, did a majority of the work themselves, using contractors on occasion. The heavy lifting included a new roof, new flooring in the newer portion of the home, painting the whole interior, tearing down wallpaper, remodeling the kitchen and cleaning and upgrading the pool.
Not to mention building a custom pavilion.
“Everything has been refaced, repainted, redone,” she said. “(The) kitchen went through a total remodel there. Everything you see primarily is new, not in the sense that we tore (down) all the walls of the original structure. I did not want to touch that. But everything has had a good facelift.”
It took about a year and a half for the two to restore the estate — all while keeping their primary residence in New Mexico. Lee and Julie now live at The 1752 Estate.
“We would just literally drop our suitcases and go to a room,” Julie said of her working during visits.
“It was definitely a labor of love,” she said. “We moved fast and never stopped. You get up in the morning and you didn’t stop till it was 9, 10 o’clock at night.”
“I truly believed the roots were down into China,” she laughed, referencing the more than 100 boxwoods plants that had to be extracted from the earth. “They had been there for a long time.”
Lee and Julie’s strong Christian faith played a paramount role in their labor and continues to as they open their property to the community.
“Being strong Christians, we had been praying about it for quite a while,” Julie said. “And continued to pray even after our real estate agent had showed us the property and just felt the peace of the Lord to go ahead with it.”
Both Lee and Julie want the estate to come alive again.
“We want to have gatherings up here, whether it’s a wedding or grandma’s 95th birthday or anniversary or whatever. And so, our heart’s desire … was to bring this place back to what it should be, what it once was, so now the public can enjoy it.”
“God has blessed us with this opportunity to occupy this space,” Lee said, “and we want to share His glory with people, whoever they may be, whether it’s for a wedding, or for a birthday party, or a graduation party, we just want to be able to share it.”
The couple already has weddings booked into 2018, but there are plenty of openings, they agreed.
“That’s pretty exciting,” Julie said of the future events. “This really stole our heart.”
According to The 1752’s website, the estate “has managed to keep much of her 264-year history covered in relative mystery. Her titular birthdate is one of the few verifiable facts she yields. She was most likely constructed by immigrants who moved to the area, possibly Hessians or Huguenots.”
The website says the estate was believed to have been a stop on a busy stagecoach route.
“At one point, during The Great Depression, former owner Joseph Pearson ran a successful milling operation somewhere on her grounds.”
For more information on The 1752, visit https://the1752.com or call (434) 736-8606.