(This article is part of a series that spotlights historic farmhouses in Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, Kent, and Talbot counties. These homes are being given new life by the younger generation that lives in them presently.)
When Brianna and George Paugh turned onto the driveway of Dukesdale Farm last summer, they didn’t know what to expect.
The couple had been living in Hurlock and sought a new place to call home.
George wanted to look for property to build on, but Brianna felt a strong desire to live in a historic home.
They saw a listing for the Dukesdale Farm in Talbot County and decided to go check it out on a whim.
The house, located on Dukes Bridge Road in Cordova, was built in 1865 by Civil War Captain Levi Dukes.
Seated on 42 acres, the white, antebellum-style farmhouse features an open front porch with columns two stories high.
The elegant fireplaces, abundant built-in bookcases, and a foyer with a gorgeous, sweeping stairway set this home apart.
The farm had been owned and loved by a few different families, and the time had come for it to pass on to new owners that could update and maintain the house, pastures, outbuildings, and landscaping.
While many prospective buyers would have been intimidated by the tall grass, overgrown shrubbery, green swimming pool, and outdated bathrooms and kitchen, all Brianna saw was possibility and promise.
“Once I saw the way her eyes lit up,” George reflected. “I couldn’t tell her no.”
Brianna and George purchased the farm with her mother and step-father, Vicki and Harry Parker in 2021.
The long-term plan is for Vicki and Harry to build on the property and move there from Georgia to be closer to family.
After settlement, the Paughs had a lot of work to do before they could move in.
Brianna, George, and children Zach, Peyton and Bryson got to it right away, assisted by Brianna’s father Luke, her brother Josh and many friends.
The kitchen and bathrooms were some of the first rooms to be remodeled, giving the house an almost instantaneous facelift.
The new tile, granite countertops, cabinetry, paint and fixtures gave the home a more modern look while keeping the house’s historic charm.
Stainless steel appliances and a breakfast nook made the kitchen efficient and inviting.
The hardwood floors were sanded and sealed, allowing the beauty of their natural color to be on display.
While they were making excellent headway, no old house restoration project is complete without a few headaches along the way.
Due to the age of the house, the county did not have records of the existence or location of a septic system.
The Paughs knew there had to be a septic system, it was just a matter of finding it.
An inspector was able to locate it and determined it had failed.
Their septic contractor agreed to install a new tank, but then determined they would also need all new piping. Why? Because, as he demonstrated by easily cutting through one with a shovel, the old system had Orangeburg pipes.
This style of pipe is made of tar pitch and wood pulp and was commonly used as septic pipe and conduit until 1972.
Once at the end of its lifespan it begins to deteriorate and must be replaced with PVC, which is what the Paughs did.
Next, the updated HVAC and kitchen appliances overheated the electric panel to the extent their electrical contractor Charlie Schwaninger cautioned them against leaving the house until the issue was resolved for fear of a fire hazard.
The panel was updated and made safe, a huge relief to all involved.
Now that the “big stuff” is out of the way, the Paughs look forward to making Dukesdale Farm feel even more like home.
This spring they have plans to renovate the outbuildings and turn one into Dukesdale Saloon, a “man cave” for George.
The fences need repair in order for the family to bring home goats, chickens, and other livestock.
Plans are also in place to pave the driveway and install a patio with a fire pit.
Although the Paughs have only been living in the house since Dec. 17, 2021, they feel it has always been their home.
Their love and enthusiasm for bringing this Talbot County treasure back to its original glory is proof that this is where they are meant to be.