20th Century Renovation

The stately home at the end of Westmount saw a city blossom all around her, but as Columbia grew and thrived, the home eventually was vacated and left standing empty for more than a decade. It was built in 1931 by a dentist named Clifton Faris Elzea. Elzea, who practiced dentistry in Columbia for nearly 70 years, lived in the home until his death in 1986. When the last living Elzea family member moved away in the early years of this century, the house went dark and silent. It was maintained but remained empty until this year.

Now a new family is bringing life back to the house at the end of Westmount.

Although the original Tudor-style structure appears quite imposing, it actually measures a modest (by today’s standards) 1,600 square feet — a bit too cozy for the family of six who will be moving in before the end of the year.

The preservation-minded homeowners went in search of a general contractor who could build an addition that would be sensitive to the original home’s construction. They found their man in Jacob Bruton of Aarow Building.

Bruton appreciates the craftsmanship and skill of the original builders and points out many of the fine details as he walks through the home — the woodwork on an arched window notched hundreds of times to create a curve; a carved detail on the living room fireplace that is mimicked over the sunroom doorway; a staircase that, after 84 years, still doesn’t squeak. The homeowners are leaving most of the original interior as is, resisting any urge to knock down the old plaster walls to create an open floor plan.


The new addition will include a spacious kitchen and dining room, a master suite, a child’s bedroom and a three-car garage. Bruton is employing cutting-edge building techniques that will make the new addition both energy-efficient and a fitting companion for the original home. He will unite old and new by preserving the brick exterior walls and windows on the back of the old house and incorporating them into the connection to the new addition. When the transformation is complete, the homeowners will move into a 4,000-square-foot home that has all the charm of a 1930s mansion and all the conveniences of a 21st-century dwelling.

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