Father, son renovate historic twin

Ed Bardzik III and Ed Bardzik Jr. renovated a 114-year-old West Chester home.
Ed Bardzik III and Ed Bardzik Jr. renovated a 114-year-old West Chester home.

A Queen Anne was taken back to its Victorian roots, right down to the doorbell.

Posted: June 09, 2014

They share the same name - and a renovation project involving a historic Queen Anne Victorian in downtown West Chester.

Ed Bardzik Jr., 74, and son Ed Bardzik III, 43, recently completed a six-month, $100,000 remodeling of the twin house, which sits on a corner of West Union Street in the thriving college town.

Built in 1900, the house is once again a single-family residence, after years of use for student rentals.

The story began a decade ago. Ed Bardzik III had purchased and moved into the twin next door on West Union Street. After a while, he concluded he could do wonders with the adjoining property, which he feared would one day turn into a local version of Animal House.

"My brother told me, 'I used to party next door . . . a lot!' We realized the tenants were too rowdy," the younger Bardzik said.

So he and his father bought the place and since its renovation have signed a 30-month lease with the current tenant, a single professional.

They wanted the structure rehabbed both historically and accurately, so they contracted with James Schell, who does such renovations mainly in Chester and Delaware Counties.

"We wanted the renovations to complement the neighborhood," said Ed Bardzik Jr. (A similar set of twin houses sits down the block.)

The house has had only a few owners since it was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century. Its owner between 1970 and 2001 ran a deli in West Chester, and "that owner's mom supposedly invented the hoagie in Chester," said Ed Bardzik Jr.

Another prior owner, real estate agent Barbara Pennington, who sold it to the Bardziks in 2013, said, "It's a grand old house, and I fell in love with the great parts."

The Bardziks worked to make their twins identical, down to the antique doorknobs, doorbells, fixtures, even the mail slots. When they couldn't find matches for purchase on the Internet, they asked Schell to subcontract someone to make reproductions.

Structurally, they shored up the front steps, unified the styles of the entrances, and repointed the outer brick. During the rehab, they got rid of the web of cable and electrical wires that had resulted from years of multiple tenants moving in and out.

Because the father-and-son team wanted to make a true home rather than a serviceable student rental, they gutted the kitchen and created more living space. That required removing the massive chimney running from basement to roof.

Retained were original wood and plaster crown moldings and casings, a wooden hutch in the kitchen, cast-metal grates for the heating system, and a turn-of-the-20th-century corner cabinet that was refinished by Haines Furniture Restoration in West Chester. They also reinforced the original staircase, which was sagging.

To save money where they could, the Bardziks and Schell laid what looks like tile in the kitchen, but is actually resilient peel-and-stick flooring with real grout between the squares. Schell also had blades cut to carve and match the wooden baseboards, and he created a third-floor bay window out of reclaimed wood.

Ductwork was upgraded, as well.

"The house was 'starved' for air and wasn't heating efficiently even though it had a new furnace," Schell explained, something that has now been remedied. Also updated was an upstairs bathroom, which got a drop-in tub and shower and proper ventilation.

New electrical wiring and plumbing was a necessity, as was a new roof.

The twins both have wooden pocket doors in the dining room area. Because rehabbing them wasn't in the Bardziks' budget, the doors were encased to protect them - in case the next owner wants to tackle the project.

The Bardziks were able to refinance their mortgage recently. The house was valued at $445,000 - "well beyond what we paid and invested in it," said Ed Bardzik Jr.


earvedlund@phillynews.com

215-854-2808

@erinarvedlund

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