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Local home receives historic designation

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A grand old lady has a new name, title and owners. A home in the Moneta area of Franklin County has been named to the Virginia Historic Registry and the owners are now waiting to find out if it will be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Mark and Wendy Kedzierski bought the home in the Waterfront Community about three years ago. They found it via an internet search.

“My husband is close to retirement, and we have another lake home, but that lake always freezes,” explained Wendy Kedzierski. “So, we must take the dock up every year. My husband wanted a home on a lake that was a little bit farther south that had milder weather. We’ve always loved fixing up old houses and we’ve fixed up many. This is the oldest.”

The house sits on a little less than an acre. The Kedzierski’s purchased another 3 acres of waterfront property across the road and recently added about 7 more acres to add “a buffer” to the historic property. According to the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form the “Federal style home” is the only surviving structure on what was John Craghead’s plantation. Over the years property was sold off then the Waterfront Community built up around the house.

“It’s kind of funny because it’s in the middle of newer community,” said Wendy. “As you drive by lake looking houses, when you drive into the neighborhood, you’re driving down a long driveway that use to lead to the farmhouse.”

When Mark and Wendy came to look at the home, from Northern Virginia, it was their first visit to Smith Mountain Lake. “All we knew about the lake was that people loved it,” continued Wendy. “We decided then and there we were going to buy it.”

The home was built in 1825. Wendy spent hours researching its history at the Virginia Library in Richmond, and the local historical society. Architectural historian, Michael Pulice, with Virginia Department of Historic Resources helped by telling Wendy what to look for in the records and by evaluating the architecture style of the home.

“When I was looking through these old land tax records, I went back to before 1800 because we were told when we bought the house that was built in 1799,” explained Wendy. “So, I looked at the Franklin County land tax records in the late 1700s and followed John Craghead properties.”

She saw a jump value in a column that said, building improvements which indicated a house was probably built. “Even better, there’s an extra column at the end on these old land tax records that typically doesn’t have anything in it, it’s sort of like a column for notes and fortunately this did have something,” added Wendy. “It did say, the addition of a house.”

The Craghead family farmed corn and other vegetables as well as tobacco. At one point, the Craghead’s had 24 slaves on the plantation. The family cemetery is located nearby on another lot.

“Sally Craghead who was the wife of the original builder of the house was born in 1776 and she lived to be 100 years old,” said Wendy. “Her tombstone is in great shape. John Craghead’s tombstone is still there too, but his is not as in well preserved.”

The house experienced some tough times and had become so derelict at one point in the early 1900s it was used as a tobacco barn for handing tobacco leaves, Wendy said.

“The people who had owned it before us, the Copenhaver family, I credit them for saving the house,” said Wendy. “I also credit the developer [Ron Willard] for not tearing it down. Most developers would. I really appreciate that.”

The Kedzierski’s have not started renovating yet. “We’ve done things to stabilize it,” said Wendy. “We are living in it to decide what changes to make. We might make an addition, but we want to keep the historical integrity of the house.”

The home received Virginia Historic Landmark status in December 2021. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources determines whether to send it to the National Register of Historic Places and they have done that in this case.

“It’s likely that within three months, it will also be on the National Register of Historic places,” said Wendy. “Virginia is very good about choosing properties and making sure that they fit the criteria before they send them on to the National Register.”

Wendy is still looking for information on the home and urges anyone with stories to contact them. At some point an ‘i’ was added to the name making it “Craighead. Wendy also learned John Craghead’s family was originally from Scotland. That is why she and Mark have named the house Faodail, which is Scottish Gaelic for a lucky find.

“We feel it’s a lucky find because we love old houses, and we love living on the water and we were able to find both at Smith Mountain Lake,” said Wendy. “We feel like the house deserves it [historical designation]. It survived all these years; the lake being filled in and it has survived development all around it.”

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