The Apricot House is family and beauty wrapped in a tiny little package
By Megan Williams | Photos By Ashlee Glen| Renovation Photos Courtesy of Ann Schoew
Tucked at the end of 13th Street in the heart of Diamond Hill is a little mint green house. You might just miss it if you’re exploring the historic neighborhood, but if you let the jigsaw arrangement of scattered cobblestone guide your way, you’ll land right at its front door.
The home has known many lives in its 120 years. When the home was originally built in the early 1900s, it’s estimated that it was built with just one room on top of the other and expanded upon as the family grew.
“Originally likely built just one room over another and then expanded as a family grew and set just outside the mansions of Washington Street in Diamond Hill, I imagine someone in service likely was able to walk to work every day from this home, and maybe even return for lunch each day,” Victoria Bartholomew wrote in her speech when she presented current owners, Ann Schoew and Wade Stewart, and Winkie and Dick Schoew, with the 2023 Merit Award from the Lynchburg Historic Foundation.
The home was privately owned until the 70s when, like many historic neighborhood homes, it was abandoned and slowly fell to ruin. Sometime in the early 2000s, a fire took its roof and many of the floorboards on the first floor, leaving it fully exposed to the elements, until it was purchased in 2020.
“Victoria Bartholomew purchased it in 2020 and demoed it with plans to renovate, and we bought it from her in 2021,” said co-owner Ann Schoew. “It had been demoed down to studs at that point.”
Ann purchased the home alongside her husband, Wade, and her parents, Winkie and Dick.
“The four of us and Ben [Jacobs] came over and we could see how special it could be,” Ann said.
Ann and her family spent the next year renovating the home from the ground up, keeping as many original elements as they could and sourcing as many era-appropriate pieces as possible.
“The staircase is original to the home,” explained Winkie. “We kept as much original as we could. A few pieces of extra flooring—which we had to replace because of the fire—came from the Lynchburg City Armory, so it’s still from the right historic era.”
“All windows that were replaced were pulled from a historic house on Rivermont,” Ben Jacobs furthered. The owner of Hill City Homes, Jacobs has a penchant for historic home renovation, making the partnership with the homeowners a natural fit.
As the group began meticulously bringing the home back to life, a name unfurled: The Apricot House.
“Many houses in Diamond Hill have names,” said Ann. “We are not aware of a name for 415 13th Street. We call it ‘Apricot House’, named for the apricot tree growing in the front yard. One of our neighbors introduced themselves with a jar of apricot preserves made from the tree, which she has been making annually for years. We love that connection.”
As renovations continued The Apricot House began revealing pieces of its history. Coal, large stone slabs, bricks, a large pair of ice tongs, an entire fireplace, and little pieces of fabric have all been excavated from the property. To keep as much original to the home as possible, Dick repurposed the stone slabs for a front walkway and built a fire pit with the old brick. The ice tongs rest against the exposed interior fireplace, both natural conversation starters.
“The fireplace was exposed when we bought the property,” Winkie said.
“All brick is original and we reglazed it to promote stability,” Ann continued. Originally, the fireplace would have been a coal burning fireplace, like all fireplaces in Diamond Hill.
The biggest undertaking in the home was the kitchen. After years of neglect and the early 2000s fire, there was virtually no floor left in the kitchen area, so the group had their work cut out for them.
“A lot of the floor [in the kitchen] is reclaimed from upstairs, and we had to add in bracing underneath the floors to accommodate the large kitchen island,” said Jacobs. “The laundry room floor off of the kitchen is old basketball floor from the armory.”
“Mom and I made all of the ceramic tiles for the kitchen backsplash,” said Ann. “That was fun for us to do together.”
Winkie also made all the plates, bowls, and ceramic dishes around the house.
Walking into the home, you get a sense of how lovingly it has been restored. Touring the home with Ann, her family, Jacobs, and Hill City Homes contractor Pete Jackson, the home exudes family in every sense. Laughter reverberates off the walls and the space, just under 1,000 square feet, feels warm and inviting.
It’s easy to understand why The Apricot House has earned a Merit Award from the Lynchburg Historic Foundation. Ann explained that those awards aren’t sought out or applied for, they are externally nominated and selected.
“415 13th St speaks to the regular people of Lynchburg, the you and I of the day and that’s why the incredible renovation work in bringing this home back to life is so important,” Bartholomew continued in her Merit Award speech. “They took this under–1000-square-foot vernacular home with a burned hole in the roof, falling plaster, and rotted flooring into this century all while preserving the character, love, and personality of this place. They made sure we could see all of ourselves in this neighborhood—and not just ogle at the beauty of the neighborhood but feel the human scale impact of the human spirit here.”
In many cultures, the apricot symbolizes happiness and positive change, and it’s certain that The Apricot House will be bringing joy and positive change to the Diamond Hill community for centuries more to come.
The Apricot House is currently available for short-term rental as an Airbnb. You can find the listing by following @downtown_apricot_house on Instagram.