Operation Restoration

Although the building is threatened by age and environment, the Foundation is dedicated to preserving the house and restoring its original Victorian magnificence. Studies of the building’s needs, from underlying water problems to external and internal repair and renovation, have been conducted and actions have already been taken to comprehensively stop these environmental threats. Our program, Operation Restoration outlines a four-phase master plan to firstly restore the exterior and then the interior of the house.

 Phase I: Porch restoration (July – October 2012)

Phase II: Foundation stabilization (January – March 2013)

Phase III: Roof and Chimney restoration (June 2014 – January 2015)

Phase IV: INTERIOR RESTORATION – in progress!

Since the kickoff of our Operation Restoration challenge campaign in 2012, the Körner’s Folly Foundation has made huge strides towards preserving the beloved historic landmark for future generations.  In January 2015, the final phase of exterior restoration, the roof restoration, was completed. Now that the building is structurally stable, and water-tight, the restoration will turn inside to Körner’s Folly’s 22 rooms.

Two questions we are most frequently asked about restoration are:

1. How long will it take to restore the interior?

2. How much will it cost?

Honestly, we do not really know the answer to either of these questions.  With donations received for the Rose Room, Blue Room, and Kitchen, we will restore three rooms in 2015, which is a huge start!  Realistically, we know it could take up to a decade to raise enough funds for all the rooms, which is why we will start on a room as soon as funding is received.  Most of the rooms can be restored in 3-6 months.  Rooms are prioritized based on safety concerns, immediate threats, and historical significance. The rooms vary in cost depending on the type of damage, ranging anywhere from $5,000 per room to $250,000 or more, for the largest rooms (like the Reception Room and Theater).  Event and tour admission, along with memberships and donations all contribute to much-needed restoration funding.

Restoration, as defined by the National Park Service, is the process of “depicting the form, features, and character of a property at a particular period of time.”  In restoring Körner’s Folly, we will focus on the house’s 1897-1905 appearance, when the house was at the height of family activity. Körner’s Folly is unique in that all 22 rooms are open to visitors; our goal is to move one room at a time to professionally restore each room. As we start to peel back the layers of paint, read through family letters, and look back at old photographs, we begin to gain a better understanding of not only the room itself, but also the people who lived, breathed, and slept there.  We learn about their likes, their interests, their joys, and their fears. Eventually, as all the pieces begin to come together, we gain a glimmer of what it might have been like to live in Körner’s Folly.

The Restoration Process:

ö        Restoration experts conduct color analyses to determine historically appropriate color schemes

ö        Repair unstable infrastructure

ö        Remove modern elements added to the house over time

ö        Replicate and repair missing or damaged plaster details, tiles, and woodwork

ö        Refinish, clean, and paint architectural surfaces

ö        Reproduce historic textiles such as drapes and fabric wall panels

The Rose Room, the Körner’s daughter Doré’s bedroom, is the first to undergo serious restorative work.  Funding for the Rose Room was donated by Wolfe & Associates, in honor of Polly Doré Körner Donnell Wolfe (1923-2014), the late daughter of Doré.  The room was renovated for Doré around 1905, when she was 16 years old.  It’s easy to imagine the excitement, living in a catalogue house like Körner’s Folly, and converting an old guest room into your bedroom.  Doré’s father customized the room especially for her: he added floral trim to the existing silk wall panels; the room was changed from mint green to a light rose color; matching rose fireplace tiles were laid, and custom build in cabinets and a dresser were added, including a special cubby for Doré to display her dolls.  You can read more about the Rose Room Restoration here.

As the Rose Room restoration nears completion, work is now beginning on the Blue Room, the bedroom of the Körner’s son, Jule Gilmer Körner, Jr.  A donation to restore the Blue Room was made by Jule Gilmer Körner, IV and his wife Connie Körner. It is not every day that a historic house museum is able to under-go such a significant, long overdue restoration. If you would like to help us restore the house attend an event, take a tour, consider becoming a member of the Körner’s Folly Foundation, or make a tax-deductible donation.  Contributions to interior restoration can be made online through our donation page.

Körner’s Folly will remain open for tours during all restoration projects.  Körner’s Folly is a nonprofit house museum and open for self-guided tours Thursdays-Saturdays 10am – 4pm and Sundays 1 – 4pm.  For more information, please give us a call at (336) 996-7922.


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