LINVILLE — Renovating a historic home can be a labor of love, requiring attention to detail, more than adequate and sometimes seemingly endless funding, and a selfless nature to do what’s right.
Fortunately, the owners of the Mannheim House in Linville are willing to open their doors to the public to share their 3,965-square-foot house, which is a Virginia Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The responsibility of owning an old house like this is to share it with others,” said Agnes Weaver, who with her husband, Carl, purchased the home in 1996. “I just believe in letting people see it if they want. All they have to do is ask me, because I sure have been curious about all the houses in my life.”
Since buying the property, the couple has spent about $340,000 renovating the house. They put the home on the market in 2007 at $859,900, according to an article in the Daily News-Record in December of that year.
The Weavers moved to the Bridgewater Retirement Community in 2008, but the home didn’t sell, so they moved back in 2009 to prevent the house from going into disrepair. About two years ago, they sold more than 80 acres of their property, which was an active cattle farm, but kept 5 acres.
The Mannheim House is reputed to have been built several decades before the Revolutionary War, although the date of construction is not definitely known, according to a research paper called “Mannheim: Domestic German Architecture on the Colonial Virginia Frontier” written by Carl Grimm in 1970.
Construction dates ranging from as early as 1741 and as late as 1800 have been put forth. However, the official date of construction is 1788, as recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior for the listing in the National Register of Historic Places. An addition to the home was built in 1855, which is known from an inscription in the rock foundation.
The original owner also is unclear, with a number of names turning up, including: Michael Kauffman (spelled Kaufman, Cofman and Coffman), David Coffman, Jacob Coffman, Isaac Coffman and Joseph Kratzer.
“The house is sometimes referred to as ‘The Coffman Home’ but most often called ‘Old Mannheim,’ supposedly thus named by a Coffman builder for his German city of origin,” says the paper.
The Mannheim House is noted for retaining a traditional Germanic cultural heritage in an Anglo-American setting. In the home’s original portion, the Weavers restored a cooking fireplace with a chimney through the center of the structure, which is typical of German architecture from the period.
The property still contains a smokehouse dating to the late 1700s, a dentist office built in the early 1800s, an old slave house and the ruins of a springhouse.
The home has four bedrooms, two dining rooms, a kitchen, three full bathrooms, two basements, and other rooms. The couple also enclosed an outside porch, which is from the 1855 portion of the home.
Other renovation work involved installing new heating, electrical and plumbing systems, and replacing the mortar in the original stone exterior, a process called repointing. Some of the interior was left with its original character, including repainted indoor walls and wood floors.
Living in a house that dates to the 18th century is “wonderful,” Agnes Weaver said, adding “There are no ghosts. If there are, they are in love with us because this is a happy place to live.”
According to the book “Stone Houses on Linville Creek and Their Communities,” written by Agnes Kline in 1971, owners of the Mannheim House have ranged from the Mennonite farmer to the “so called upper-class of wealth and slaveholders,” from the pioneer preacher to men participating in politics, law, medicine and the military, and to the farmer.
“We are glad that the hands which wrought Mannheim did not strive in vain, as we see it standing after all these years, a well preserved and an early Valley home,” the book says.
Contact Jonathon Shacat at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org