By Dave Enscoe, Advertising Department
Joel Ashley and Don Andres live in Hollywood Hills in a lavish 1920s Spanish colonial home next door to film stars Jeremy Renner and Amanda Seyfried. They also own a lovingly restored townhouse in Washington D.C. just a few steps from the U.S. Capitol.
But their summer home, a wonderfully preserved 93-year-old house two blocks from the ocean, is in Ventnor, New Jersey.
Joel, a retired arbitration attorney who grew up in Margate, and Don, who spent 35 years in the aerospace defense industry, bought the 7-bedroom, 3½ bath house in 1987. The all-brick three-story colonial revival structure stands on Ventnor Avenue in prestigious St. Leonard's Tract, a neighborhood dominated by stately homes built on oversized lots in the 1920s and '30s.
The property was originally owned by Joseph Thompson, who also owned the St. Leonard's Land Company. It was purchased in 1919 by Frederick Burke, who built the house in 1920 and owned it until the end of World War II.
Don and Joel bought the house 26 years ago from the Broome family. They never felt the need to restore, renovate or remodel. But they took great pains preserve. Today, nearly a century after it was built, the house retains its original floor plan and nearly all of its original features.
"We haven't changed anything other than updating the bathrooms and replacing the water heater and the furnace," says Don, a native of Hamburg, NY.
Among the vintage features are four wood-burning fireplaces, random width hardwood floors, plaster walls, cast iron radiators, and solid wood doors with glass knobs. The original front door with its brass knocker is flanked by leaded glass windows and there are still gas light fixtures that are now wired for electricity. Even the double hung windows are original.
"I personally took every window out and had them re-glazed and repainted," Don says. "And all the windows have new chains and weights."
&rtab;An unusual feature for a 1920s-era home is the one-car attached garage. Also unusual is the built-in wood-burning fireplace with full brick chimney on the covered front porch, which is accessed from the formal living room by two sets of French doors. The fireplace adds ambiance to the all-brick porch, which is shielded from Ventnor Avenue by a row of tall shrubs.
"On a lot of nights we'll have dinner out on the porch," Don says.
Fireplaces are also found in the living room, formal dining room and master bedroom. An intimate sun room with brick walls used to be an open porch but was enclosed many years ago. It's one of Don's and Joel's favorite hangouts.
"We call it the Tavern on the Green," Joel says.
A grand staircase in the center hall ascends to the second floor, where there are four bedrooms and two full baths. The immense master bedroom has a remodeled bathroom with a 1920s style checkerboard tile floor and a pedestal sink.
A second staircase leads from the kitchen to the second floor landing and then up to the third floor servants' quarters, which has three more bedrooms and a full bathroom with a claw-foot tub. One of those bedrooms is home to Joel's extensive Lionel Train layout, which he's in the process of packing up.
A mudroom/laundry room has a door to the backyard, where mature trees and shrubs provide privacy.
"The house is perfect for parties," Joel says. "It flows out on the porch and the back yard. It's a style of living that's gone with the wind."
Since they already own homes in California, and Washington, Don and Joel have decided the time has come to sell their Ventnor property.
"We're getting too old to take care of this house," says Joel.
Don agrees. "It's a lot of house to keep up from 3,000 miles away," he says.
For more information on this property, which is listed for $1.2 million, call Mary Lou Ferry of Farley and Ferry Realty, 609-822-1836.
Size: 7 bedrooms, 31/2 baths
Taxes (2012): $15,040
Price: $1.2 million