The Wilkinson-Keele House:

The Restoration of “Manchester’s House”



Text Box: The current owners, John and Chasity Nicoll, happened to see “Manchester’s House” while on leave from the Army.  Both were in town for Chasity’s 30th birthday in late April 2003 and saw the house with a For Sale sign in the front yard.  

Although the back upstairs bathroom was literally falling off the house, the foundation and chimneys were crumbling to the ground, and the last coat of paint had been removed by the elements years ago, the couple decided the house was worth saving.  A week later, the couple had an option to buy on the house and on July 3, 2003, they became only the fourth owners of the house in over 115 years.

After six months of trying to find a contractor, Southern Builders from Wartrace, Tennessee began demolition on the house in February 2004.  All of the crumbling plaster walls were taken down exposing extensive hidden termite damage.  The front porch which had been ruined from water damage had to be removed while saving as much of the original intricate gingerbread as possible.

The upstairs bathroom was also removed from the house, as well as the back porch.  The mortar of the brick chimneys was turning to sand; therefore, the chimneys had to be removed brick by brick.  All of the exterior wood had to be hand-scraped and prepared for fresh paint.  The foundation bands were destroyed by termites, thus the house was placed on wooden and steel jacks and each band replaced.  Finally, the brick foundation was gutted and the replaced with a block foundation and then faced with the original bricks.

The brick foundation was taken down in sections and replaced with a concrete block foundation.  The bricks were then put back in place to keep the original look of the house.  All the rotten wood on the outside of the house was replaced.  The front porch was completely rebuilt using the original gingerbread.  The spindles were hand-crafted by Dixie Woodworks to be an exact match of the original spindles.  The back porch was rebuilt as well and glassed-in. The only addition to the house was a modern kitchen which was added to the rear of the house.  

Meanwhile, the inside of the house was stripped down to the studs.  New electric, plumbing, and HVAC systems were then installed.  Insulation was placed in the walls and attic for the first time in the home’s history.  Gas fireplaces were installed.  After the drywall was complete, the original woods floors were refinished, the original mantles were remounted, and the original wood trim was reinstalled.

The Nicoll Law Firm, PLLC Today

Jim Yates restoring the original ceiling paper

Replicas of the original ceiling paper are made by Wolff House Wallpapers LLC

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The Nicoll Law Firm, PLLC is located in Manchester, Tennessee and services clients in middle and eastern Tennessee. 


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