When Reydaleo "Reyd" Dellafiora bought his Steele Place home four years ago, he thought he was facing a big, big restoration project.
The house had been vacant for most of 30 years and appeared to be in terrible condition. But, as luck would have it, the home turned out to be in pretty good shape, needing some painting and updating.
"I knew this house was not a teardown," said Dellafiora, a general, electrical and mechanical contractor.
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The late Everett Theriot, a local builder, had constructed the Spanish-style stucco home in 1926 using solid, reinforced concrete.
Some 94 years later, the foundation is still strong as are the joists, which had been coated with Creosote, a tarlike substance, to protect them from deterioration. Even the original Spanish tile roof was in good condition, having been partially protected from standing water by copper gutters.
"This house was ahead of its time," Dellafiora said.
One of the nicest things about the home is its placement at the center of a double corner lot with three large pecan trees in the backyard and two live oaks in the front.
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Throughout the property are seven mature camellia bushes from Baton Rouge's camellia expert, the late Violet Stone. At the back of the property is a free-standing garage with the same concrete construction as the home. Dellafiora also added outside lighting and a swing for his children, who visit from Colorado.
Dellafiora said the unique look of the stucco home attracted him.
His plan, still in progress, is to preserve as many of the architectural elements of the house that he can then modernize it to make it safe and livable.
He started with new electrical service to replace an antiquated 110-volt electrical box that had been disconnected. He added new heating and air conditioning, and even found some old-time plasterers to repair cracks in the stucco.
The exterior was painted a color called dove wing with bronze trim, while dove white went on the interior walls, which were trimmed in deep brown.
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The entrance to the home is thre steps up to a semicircular covered porch with four stone columns and a terrazzo stone floor. The exterior doors are all arched at the top with a layer of exposed brick between the door and the stucco.
Dellafiora removed the old screen from a porch on the west side of the house and painted the trim the same bronze as the doors and windows to pick up colors in the terrazzo floor.
"All of the original wood on the porch was in perfect condition," said Dellafiora, who plans to install new copper screen.
Inside, the home's charm is evident, starting with the original hardwood floors found throughout.
In the living room one wall is centered by the original stone fireplace, which is carved in a traditional botanic pattern with leaves and bunches of grapes. On each side of the fireplace are two high circular windows that flood the area with light.
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Comfortable furniture and a coffee table with a carved-right-from-the-tree look anchor the room.
Double glass doors from the living room open to the dining room, furnished with antique pieces, including a piano.
A hallway from the living room on the west side of the home leads to two bedrooms and the bathroom.
Next up are renovations to the kitchen and bathroom while keeping the original patterned tile floors in those two rooms. He even rebuilt the original Crane faucets so he could keep some of the kitchen and bathroom fixtures.