(CONTINUED) Feature on Candlelight Tour House—704 Prince Edward Street
Blog Post by Wendy Migdal
Edited by Linda Billard
Principal Marker Researcher: Roger Engels
Kaufman and Hannah Hirsh were not the original owners or builders of the house, however. That distinction belongs to James Turner, who worked as a manager for a local merchant and later a foreman in a foundry. In 1854, Turner bought an irregular piece of land from William Mitchell that fronted Prince Edward Street for 60 feet and extending back 264 feet. A year earlier, Mitchell had purchased the land from the owner of the Federal Hill estate but seemed to have some trouble paying his bills.
Turner probably built the brick Greek Revival style house in 1855, with a gable roof and two chimneys. Because the earliest map showing the house dates from 1878, no records exist regarding the exact original footprint. The house is a two-story brick dwelling with a side hall measuring 24 feet by 32 feet, and a one-story brick extension to the rear measuring 14 feet by 26 feet. The extension may or may not have been added later; there are no visible joints, however. (And at some point, there was yet another brick addition, 14 by 10 feet, that does show a break in the brickwork. A frame sunroom was added above this.) There was also a 1-½ story kitchen dependency.
When Turner came home from work, he may have stood on his small front porch (which at that time covered only the doorway entrance) and gazed on the bustle of town. Prince Edward at that time was the western edge of the city, so he was “getting away from it all.” But it was not to last long; he sold the house after only 2 years to Charles Brown. Turner’s obituary mentions health problems, so that may have been an issue.
Charles Brown was the owner during the terrible battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, when cannon and musket fire raged above the heads of the citizens of Fredericksburg as they cowered in cellars. The Union set up gun emplacements behind Federal Hill and 704 Prince Edward. Because most of the Confederate troop movement was to the north of the house, it may not have sustained great damage during the battle, and Charles Brown may not have been cowering in the house at the time. As you learned in the previous blog installment about this house, the Hirshes purchased the house only about 4 months after the battle.
Today’s owners enjoy a porch that wraps around the left side of the house—date unknown—with Doric columns and a turned balustrade. They are eager to preserve the historical character of the house and received their historical marker from HFFI in 2016. To learn more about their preservation efforts and the history of the home, join us for the Candlelight Tour on December 8 and 9, 2018.