Owners of landmarked El Vedado home get OK to replace fire-damaged garage

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Nearly two years after fire destroyed the garage and guest house of a landmarked home on El Vedado Road, plans are moving forward to rebuild the structure.

At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved plans to reconstruct the two-story accessory building in the same footprint as the original, though with no garage.

Instead, it will be rebuilt as a two-bedroom guesthouse, said Rene Silvin, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The building is at the back of the property on El Vedado Road.

“It’s going to be a charming new guest house,” Silvin said. “It’ll be sensitively done.”

More:Landmarks commission approves renovation plans for historic Queens Lane home

Also on Wednesday, the commission approved minor renovations to the nearly 100-year-old, E.B. Walton-designed main house, as well as a handful of other additions including new wood double-hung windows and an enclosed porch with a balcony that would replace a non-original, 1960s-built laundry and storage room.

The north side of the home had fallen into disrepair, Silvin said, and renovations were needed.

Council members praised the renovation plans, which include new French doors and sidelights at the loggia, as well as impact-rated wood doors at the balconies.

“I think the house is going to be beautiful,” commission member Brittain Damgard said. “It needed those improvements.”

The main house did not sustain damage in the Aug. 1, 2019, fire, which took nearly six hours to extinguish. Crews used 500 gallons of water per minute to contain the fire and keep it from spreading.

Nobody was home or living at the guest house at the time.

The property is owned by businessman Frederick A. Krehbiel II and his wife, Kathleen “Kay” Krehbiel, who purchased the Mediterranean-style, two-story El Vedado home in November for $5.9 million.

Built in 1926 and landmarked in 2010, the home has undergone extensive renovations, including the addition of central air conditioning, new electrical wiring, structural improvements and rebuilt balconies. 

The garage of 271 El Vedado Road will be rebuilt as a two-bedroom guesthouse.

The home, which has a total of 7,116 square feet of living space, was previously owned by Wylene Commander and David Van Schaick, who moved into it after they married in 2005.

Commander-Van Schaick continued to live in the home after her husband’s death in 2016, but put it on the market two years later.

The home was briefly pulled from the market before it was purchased by the Krehbiels, who have worked to restore other properties including the historic Irish estate Ballyfin House, which they opened in 2011 as Ballyfin Hotel.

“They know exactly what they’re doing,” Silvin said of the Krehbiels. “They’ve had other historic homes. They’re making this fabulous. El Vedado is a pristine block.”

The El Vedado renovation plans will be considered by the Town Council at its April 14 development review meeting, Silvin said.

jwagner@pbpost.com

@JRWagner5

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