An abandoned 19th century house on Judd Street which was briefly owned by the city of Woodstock has been renovated by a local contractor.
Lafontaine Enterprises purchased the single-family home at 315 W. Judd St. from the city in July 2016. The company’s $3,000 bid was the only offer on the house, which sat vacant for at least two years before the city put it up for sale in June 2016, several months after receiving a judicial deed to the property.
The house likely dates to the 1860s or 1870s, making it one of the oldest in the neighborhood, according to City Planner Nancy Baker.
City Hall had heard complaints from residents about the condition of the property for years, Baker said, and it had been the subject of neighbors’ grievances at City Council meetings. A memo presented to the council said the house would need “extensive rehabilitation” to salvage it.
“From what we could see, there were foundation issues, there were utility issues, the stucco siding was falling off and there was an accumulation of belongings on the property,” Baker said.
The 1,600 square-foot house is located in the Woodstock Downtown Business Historic Preservation District, and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission preferred it be saved rather than demolished. When Tom and Pepper Lafontaine, owners of Lafontaine Enterprises, purchased it, they intended to make the renovated house fit in with the rest of the historical neighborhood.
There wasn’t a lot to preserve — Tom Lafontaine said the house was “basically gutted down to the studs, except for the original framing” — but he was surprised by what he found when he pulled off the crumbling stucco.
“I believe it was the original siding,” Tom Lafontaine said. He added: “I could tell by the way that it was built that the stucco was put on pre-1920s.”
The wooden siding was patched and painted, a new front porch was added and the interior was overhauled. Work began last winter and continued into this summer.
“We took what I like to call most of the quirks out,” Tom Lafontaine said.
A longtime Woodstock resident, Tom Lafontaine now operates his company out of his home in Marengo. He said he and his wife agreed to move into the Judd Street house if they couldn’t sell it, but they’ve received an offer on the property.
“Almost daily, when I’m outside, somebody will say thank you, or great job, or ‘We’re so glad you saved it,’” he said. “I’m shocked at how often people make comments.”