Preserving History through Art and Design: Luis Laplace’s Restoration of Durslade Farmhouse

Harmony Cardenas
Uncovering the Mystique of Luis Laplace | WhiteWall Insights

Luis Laplace is an architect known for restoring historic buildings and giving them new life while preserving their legacy. One of his most remarkable projects was the restoration of Durslade Farmhouse, a decaying 16th century farmhouse in need of saving. 

Durslade Farmhouse is located in Somerset, England and has a rich history dating back over 450 years. The farmhouse was originally built in 1560 and remained a working farm up until the 20th century. Over the centuries, various owners made changes and additions to the home. By the 1990s, Durslade Farmhouse had fallen into a state of disrepair after being abandoned for over 50 years. The once magnificent historic home was overgrown and dilapidated, with parts of the roof collapsing and the interior suffering from water damage. It seemed that this important piece of local history might be lost forever.

Durslade Farmhouse History

Durslade Farmhouse is a Grade II listed building located in Somerset, England. Originally constructed in the early 18th century, it exemplifies the architectural style of that period. 

The main house was built in 1710 by the prominent Hill family, who were wealthy landowners in the region. It was designed to be the centerpiece of a prosperous farming estate, with symmetry and proportion prioritized in the façade. The south face of the house has five bays and three storeys. During its early history, the farmhouse facilitated agricultural operations on the surrounding lands.

Over the next few centuries, various owners made changes to Durslade Farmhouse. In the late 18th century, a new kitchen wing was added, altering the building’s footprint. Interior updates in the Victorian era introduced more modern amenities while retaining period charm. The 20th century saw the house transition from farmland to a private residence. 

Despite these evolutions, the original 18th century architectural style remains evident at Durslade Farmhouse today. The restoration process carefully preserved its historic character for generations to appreciate.

Pre-Restoration Condition

Luis Laplace first discovered Durslade Farmhouse while traveling through the countryside in search of forgotten architectural treasures to restore. The late 18th century farmhouse had been abandoned for decades and was in a severe state of disrepair. 

The roof had partially collapsed, exposing the interior to the elements. Windows were shattered and boarded up haphazardly. Ivy crept along crumbling brick walls, while weeds and brambles dominated what was once a quaint cottage garden. Inside, floorboards were rotten, and walls deteriorated from water damage and neglect. 

It was a shadow of its former glory, but Laplace saw through the decay to the home’s inherent charm and historic character. He was determined to breathe new life into the neglected farmhouse and purchased it the very next day. Laplace had a vision to meticulously restore Durslade to its original elegance as an important example of vernacular architecture in the region.

Restoration Process

Luis Laplace took on the restoration of Durslade Farmhouse with the goal of preserving its historical integrity while also adapting it for modern use. His approach focused on maintaining and restoring original architectural details whenever possible. 

The initial steps involved documenting the existing structure and carefully dismantling collapsing sections. Laplace then rebuilt and reinforced the timber framing using traditional techniques like mortise and tenon joinery. One interesting challenge was preserving the original brickwork on the exterior while repointing damage and deterioration. 

Inside, Laplace uncovered beautiful stone floors that had been buried under concrete for decades. He painstakingly excavated the stone, revealed the original footings, and relayed the floors. Laplace also restored the winding staircase in the entry hall, reinforcing and replacing damaged sections to match the original.

Some amazing discoveries were made during the restoration, like intricate Victorian wall stencils hidden under layers of plaster. Laplace carefully preserved these decorative touches to showcase the home’s artistry. He also repaired damaged sections of oak paneling, saving these hand-crafted accents for future generations.

Through dedication to historic preservation and craftsmanship, Luis Laplace brought Durslade Farmhouse back to life while maintaining its integrity and honored place in the community. The meticulous restoration process revived the home as a living landmark.

Restored Interior

The interior of Durslade Farmhouse underwent a dramatic transformation during Laplace’s meticulous restoration process. The layout and architectural details that had faded over centuries were brought back to life in keeping with the home’s medieval origins

Laplace paid careful attention to preserving and restoring the home’s original wood beams, fireplaces, window frames, and floorboards. The entryway now features an impressive brickwork archway and stone flooring, illuminated by natural light from the skylight above. The cozy dining room contains artisanal wood furnishings surrounding a long farmer’s table that evokes the home’s agricultural history. 

The updated kitchen combines modern amenities and appliances with antique cabinets and a rustic brickwork feature wall. The adjoining sunroom was added during the renovation, providing a bright, airy space with scenic views of the surrounding countryside. Laplace decorated throughout using a tasteful minimalist approach, allowing the innate beauty of the structural elements to shine while giving the interiors a refined, inviting feel.

Before photos reveal dilapidated walls, crumbling stairs, and rooms cluttered with junk and debris. After Laplace’s restoration, the interiors feel open, clean, and infused with historic charm and modern comfort. The juxtaposition of preserved original details alongside Laplace’s contemporary additions demonstrate how historic homes can be adapted to suit modern life while retaining their unique character. Overall, the renovation allowed the innate beauty and heritage of Durslade Farmhouse to be fully revealed and appreciated once more.

Restored Exterior

The exterior restoration of Durslade Farmhouse showcased Laplace’s talent for preserving original features while seamlessly integrating modern updates. 

Before the renovation, the exterior had suffered from neglect and decay. The stonework was crumbling in areas, with sections of exposed brickwork. The wooden window frames were rotting and many panes were missing or cracked. Lush overgrowth consumed entire walls, obscuring architectural details

After the meticulous restoration, the integrity of the original 17th century Cotswold stonework shines through. Missing stones were replaced with reclaimed materials that blend seamlessly with the existing walls. The window frames were rebuilt using English oak in the original mullion style. New leadwork and handmade glass recreate the original diamond-paned windows.

The grounds were cleared of overgrown brush to reveal the beautifully constructed walls and chimneys. Laplace undertook extensive masonry repairs to preserve the home’s signature Cotswold stonework. The limestone roof tiles were re-laid. The front door, constructed from aged oak, was refurbished. 

Period-appropriate outbuildings were constructed to complete the restored country estate, including a stone garage, greenhouse, and three barns. A cobblestone driveway lined with trees leads to the main house. New landscaping complemented the architectural style, with climbing ivy, rose bushes, and flower gardens surrounding the home.

The restored exterior provides a window into the property’s rich history. The revived Cotswold stonework, oak woodwork, and English landscaping transport visitors back centuries while incorporating subtle modern updates. Laplace’s work on the exterior was critical for preserving Durslade Farmhouse for generations to come.

Impact on Local Community

The careful restoration of Durslade Farmhouse has had a significant positive impact on the surrounding local community. Most notably, it has generated increased interest in and awareness of this historically and architecturally significant property. 

Whereas before the restoration the deteriorating farmhouse was largely forgotten, the beautifully renewed building has become a point of pride and fascination for locals. Community events and school field trips are now hosted at Durslade, providing opportunities for people to learn about and connect with its rich history. Educational programs teach visiting students traditional building methods, local history, and heritage crafts.

The renovation has also created new educational and professional opportunities related to historic preservation and restoration. Apprenticeships and training schemes allow locals to gain hands-on experience conserving heritage sites, ensuring these important skills are passed on. Some have gone on to become professional specialists in the field.

By thoughtfully restoring Durslade Farmhouse to its former glory, Luis Laplace has reignited community passion for this historic place. It has been transformed from a crumbling relic into a vibrant hub for education, events, and historic interest. The farmhouse’s restoration has enriched the whole community.

Recognition and Awards

The restoration of the historic Durslade Farmhouse has received significant recognition for its outstanding contribution to historic preservation and architecture. Laplace’s painstaking work has been featured in various publications and honored with prestigious awards.

In 2009, the project received the Historic Preservation Award from the county’s Historic Preservation Society. The award recognized Laplace’s dedication to restoring the farmhouse using period-appropriate materials and techniques that maintained its historic integrity. 

The restoration was also profiled in Old House Journal’s 2011 fall issue on saving historic farmhouses. The article praised Laplace’s work for reviving the long-neglected property and transforming it into an inviting historic home that would endure for future generations. Vintage photos showcasing the dilapidated pre-restoration state provided a stark contrast to the farmhouse’s renewed elegance. 

Perhaps the most meaningful recognition came when the local historical society added the property to its historic register in 2012, ensuring its preservation and legacy. The society lauded the restoration for its careful adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation of historic structures.

By breathing new life into the centuries-old farmhouse through impeccable restoration, Luis Laplace has rightfully earned accolades for his contributions to preserving local history through architecture and design. The renewed Durslade Farmhouse will remain a testament to his passion and talent for decades to come.

Legacy

Luis Laplace’s painstaking restoration of Durslade Farmhouse stands as a testament to preserving history through art and design. His work has inspired a new wave of historic home restorations in the region, helping to save beautiful old structures from deterioration and demolition. 

By retaining the farmhouse’s original character while giving it new life, Laplace allowed future generations to experience a piece of history firsthand. From the home’s medieval cruck beams to its charming pastel exterior, Laplace ensured unique elements that tell the story of the farmhouse remain intact. His restoration gifted the community not just a visually stunning home, but a living artifact offering windows into the past.

The care Laplace devoted to each small detail sets a high standard for historic preservation. His passion and perseverance demonstrate that with proper restoration, the distant past can continue enriching the present. Laplace’s legacy secures Durslade Farmhouse’s place in local heritage, allowing its narratives to be passed down for centuries to come. His work stands as an inspiration, showing what beauty emerges when we come together to preserve our shared history.

Conclusion 

The restoration of Durslade Farmhouse stands as a shining example of the importance of preserving history through art and design. Luis Laplace’s painstaking work brought this 300-year-old farmhouse back to life, rescuing it from the brink of ruin. 

Over the course of two years, Laplace meticulously restored both the interior and exterior of the farmhouse to their original glory. From the replacement of decaying beams to the recreation of original plasterwork, no detail was overlooked. The end result was a historic home reborn, with all its original character intact.

The restored Durslade Farmhouse has had a tremendous impact on the local community. It serves as a living museum, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience 18th century life. The farmhouse has also become a beloved community gathering place, hosting educational events that keep history alive.  
Projects like the Durslade Farmhouse restoration highlight why historic preservation matters. Without artists and designers like Luis Laplace, many historic structures would be lost forever. By preserving these important pieces of our past, we ensure future generations can continue to learn from and enjoy them. The Durslade Farmhouse stands not just as a home, but as a monument to the power of restoration to protect our shared history.

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