Family restoring Victorian home in Dalton to original glory

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Photo Gallery | Family restores Victorian home in downtown Dalton

This story has been modified to clarify the previous ownership of the house.

DALTON — A Main Street Victorian home adorned with a grand oak stairway and stained glass windows will return soon to its turn-of-the-century glory.

Located at the corner of Main and Glennon Avenue, the two-and-a-half store single-family residence that had fallen into disrepair should be fully restored in six months, according to the new owners. J. Cristopher and Caroline Irsfeld bought the vacant, foreclosed home in October for $65,000, not for the rock-bottom price, but for the desire to save a dwelling that was structurally sound and retained much of its original interior.

"The house was telling us what to do," Cris Irsfeld said.

The couple have teamed up with their daughter Alicia Jost and her husband, Eric, for the family affair restoration.

"I think it's more fun because we are doing this together," Caroline Irsfeld said.

"And together we have one brain and we have the same ideas," Alicia Jost added.

Built in 1900, the wood frame house at 575 Main St. also features herringbone floors in pristine condition, hidden underneath carpet stripped away by contractor by Dale Dedrick of South Lee and his team.

The wallpaper has also been peeled away to reveal salvageable plaster walls, said Cris Irsfeld, a former Stockbridge selectman.

"And there were no cracks in the ceiling, a testament that this house is really built," he said.

The Irsfelds and Josts were pleasantly surprised the quarter-sawn oak woodwork around the windows and doors remained unpainted, not always the case for older homes that change hands several times through the decades.

"The graciousness and quality of the wood work [is beautiful,]" Alicia Jost said.

Originally inhabited by the Bartlett family and last owned for nearly 50 years by David and Eileen McCall and later their daughter Connie McCall, the interior is getting all new plumbing, wiring, kitchen, bathrooms and a wine cellar in the basement.

As for the exterior, a black fence resembling an early 20th century wrought-iron enclosure has been installed and the overgrown landscaping removed.

"They had so many bushes you couldn't see the house," said Eric Jost, himself a landscaper. "We'll plant things that won't grow 340 feet tall."

The family brings a wealth of experience in old home restorations. The Irsfelds' resume includes several classic homes in California before moving to the Berkshires 30 years ago. They spent the first decade in Stockbridge refurbishing Longview, a 226-year-old farmhouse.

Having inherited her parents' passion for saving old homes, Alicia Jost, along with her husband, restored a century-old caretaker's cottage, once part of a Stockbridge estate.

The Josts, and their two children, daughter Peyton and son Griffin, expect they will eventually be that young family the Irsfelds envision living in the Victorian house.

Apparently, the locals are thrilled about the downtown residential revival.

"There are a lot of honking horns ... a Dalton fire truck came by a few days ago and [the driver] hit the siren," Mr. Irsfeld said. "People seem to be very grateful that the sad corner house will live again."

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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