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Young Couple Find their Dream House:

A Historic Stone Ender in Lincoln

Dakota Keller spent his childhood watching his parents restore a circa 1790 home and shares his love and appreciation of old houses with Carley McEnery. The two then naturally made it a priority to find a livable historic property when they began house-hunting. Especially one that still had a lot of its original character, so finding the Valentine Whitman House for sale in Lincoln “from 1696, completely restored and thoughtfully renovated with modern conveniences,” was like striking “historic-home gold” according to Carley.


The Valentine Whitman Jr. House (c. 1696) stands today as perhaps the state’s finest example of the Stone Ender style. Several years ago, with the house facing an uncertain future, Preserve RI acquired the property from the Town of Lincoln and undertook a careful rehabilitation to turn it into a functioning home for 21st century residents. 


A year into living at the Valentine Whitman House, Carley and Dakota could not be happier. Each of them has favorite features. Carley loves the clawfoot bathtub and tin ceiling. Dakota is interested in the stone end and timber frame construction; as he says, “when you run your hand across those beams you can imagine the original carpenter doing the same with meticulous care, skill, and artistry.” (Original hand-hewn beams are a key feature of the house.) Both, however, agree that having the comfort of up-to-date convenience gives them “the best of both worlds.”


Owning a historic home does not come without its challenges. Some are cosmetic, such as putting risers under furniture legs to ensure that everything sits level. Others are not. As Carley puts it, “It takes a high level of vigilance to notice changes and stay on top of maintenance… but the restoration and renovation work by Preserve RI and Heritage Restoration was so thorough that those worries are currently minimal.”  


Another layer of owning the Valentine Whitman House is the easement on the property, a binding legal agreement that protects selected historic and architectural qualities of a property, ensuring they will not be destroyed or inappropriately altered. The easement on the Valentine-Whitman House is held by Preserve Rhode Island and involves an annual site visit to ensure that the historic character of the property is maintained.


While this might seem to be a negative aspect of owning the house, Carley and Dakota don’t see it that way. As Carley told us, “The easement has made sure that each of our hopes and projects for the house are thoroughly thought through.” Moreover, they feel it’s “a springboard connecting us with an amazing pool of resources and professionals,” especially ones who “know our home inside and out.” Easements are a way of keeping the historic feeling intact, a characteristic that Carley summarizes well, “historic homes help root a sense of place and remembering that the opportunity to purchase one is because of countless people before you appreciating, maintaining, and advocating for the home. You become the caretakers and the next chapter of the home’s history.”

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