CertainTeed supplied builder Paul Burgin Builders with the materials to complete restoration of the historic “Avalon House,” in a historic New Jersey community.

For decades, the “Avalon House” was a fixture of the coastal community of Avalon, New Jersey. The impressive, three-story Queen Anne-style home—built in 1895 by Avalon’s first tax assessor George W. Kates to serve as his summer cottage—currently sits on a plot 20 miles away in neighboring town of Cape May.

In 2017 the property was sold to a developer who planned to raze the historic property to make way for a two-story, single family home with a swimming pool. After a long and unsuccessful effort to preserve the home in the city of Avalon, the Scharnikow family that had owned the home from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s utilized a quitclaim deed to buy back the home for $1. The one stipulation was that the home would be physically moved to another location.

The Avalon House was disassembled and moved north to a muddy storage yard in Egg Harbor Township, where the home sat in pieces for more than a year while the Scharnikow family obtained the permits to physically transport the home 40 miles down the Jersey Shore to a plot they secured in Cape May. The home had survived two lightning strikes, numerous nor’easters, and the Great Atlantic Storm of March 1962, but sitting in the mud without a foundation for more than a year took its toll on the home’s flooring, exterior, and structural elements. By the time the home reached its final destination to Cape May to local fanfare, much of the home was in need of a serious facelift.

The Scharnikow family wanted to retain original circa 1895 appearance of the house while making it comfortable and functional for 21st-century living. According to homeowner Adrienne Scharnikow, blending the old and new required a lot of work and attention to detail. Modern improvements included an addition doubling the home’s square footage from 1,820 to 3,559 square feet, converting the layout from a 3 bed/2 bath to a 6 bed/5 bath, bringing all of the plumbing and electrical up to code, and adding closest space. 

At the same time, Scharnikow maintained or restored many of the original Victorian features, including much of the original wood flooring; classic light fixtures; black exterior scrollwork; decorative exterior corbels; interior molding with bullseye plinth blocks; a front porch with a pebble dash finish made of beach stones, shells and sea glass; an original claw foot tub; and the home’s third story viewing tower (with two feet added for a better view of the coastline). Certain delicate items like original stained glass windows were removed from the house and re-installed after the move to Cape May.

One area that needed attention was the home’s original mixed cedar shake siding. Much of it was soft or rotted. The city of Cape May takes historic preservation seriously and required siding materials that could replicate the appearance of a late Victorian era home. CertainTeed Cedar Impressions polymer shingles were selected for their era-appropriate look and maintenance-free ­demeanor. 

The Cape May Historic District is included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, so the town has high standards when it comes to restoring homes. The variety of Cedar Impressions shingle shapes allowed Burgin and his team to accurately replicate the Queen Anne style of the Avalon House with modern materials less susceptible to coastal moisture. Burgin utilized a combination staggered shingles on the front and older sides of the house; scallop, octagon, and half-cove shingles on the front, gable, and tower; and sawmill shingles on the majority of the addition, which was built onto the back of the home. In all, 54 squares of polymer siding were used to restore the Avalon House’s original, off-white façade.

Project Details:

Location: Cape May, New Jersey

Size: 3,559 sq. ft.

Builder: Paul Burgin Builders

Supplier: Universal Supply, Cape May

Siding: CertainTeed: Cedar Impressions Staggered Perfection (Snow), Cedar Impressions Scallop, Half Cove and Octagon (Snow), Cedar Impressions T5 Sawmill (Snow)

Interior Paint: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace