The renovation includes extensive exterior stonework.
The false windows on the street side of the house will stay.
Photo by Dave McNair
Former U.S. Senator George Allen knows when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. The savvy former senator, who has begun campaigning for his old federal job, appears to have made a killing on "Social Hall" on 109 East Jefferson Street.
He bought the downtown building in 1978 for a mere $120,000 and sold it in 2006 for a cool $1.1 million. The buyer was Janice Aron, president of Kinloch Enterprises.
For much of its recent history, what began as a residence served as an office building and day-care center. Aron will make the Federal-style building a residence again.
Earlier this year, Aron began an extensive renovation by removing some later additions and breaking through a stone retaining wall to create a parking area. Other features include extensive landscaping, a lap pool, and a pool house.
The high-flying Aron, along with husband Robert Aron, once owned a six-bedroom house at Wellington's Palm Beach Polo and Country Club that they bought from BET network co-founder Sheila Johnson and reportedly leased to Madonna for a short time for $50,000 a month.
Locally, the Arons are known as Paramount Theater donors and as the former owners of Kinloch, a 540-acre farm (with a conservation easement) and 10,000 square-foot, circa-1740 mansion they sold last October for $14.5 million.
Originally constructed in the 1820s by Colonel John R. Jones, Social Hall had a reputation as a social hang-out. Reportedly, Col. Jones and Thomas Jefferson played fiddle together in the house. It was the birthplace of Brigadier-General John Marshall Jones, who was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness and is buried in Charlottesville's Maplewood Cemetery. And, of course, it's a regular stop on historic walking tours sponsored by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.
Over the years, the building has seen many additions and a kind of piecemeal construction. For example, after a church purchased the property in 1952, a two-story shed addition was added to make the original L-shape into a square. A fanlight over the entry typifies the Federal period of architecture, as do the false windows on the eastern wall.
"It's a pretty straight-forward renovation," says lead architect Jeff Dreyfus of Bushman Dreyfus Architects. "It's being renovated and returned to its original use as a single-family house, with a one-room guest cottage being added in the rear."
Martin Horn is overseeing the construction, and Pete O’Shea of Site Works Landscape Studio is handling the landscaping. According to the on-site construction manager, the renovation should wrap in August.