CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every resident leaves a unique mark on Arlington Court's living spaces, although many have made similar updates. They've all replaced the gas lights and added furnaces to replace the heating systems originally provided by gas fireplaces, four in each unit, that were the only heat source when Arlington Court was built.
Many have removed the walls separating the small galley kitchens and 12- by 16-foot dining rooms, a move that opens and brightens the space. Quite a few residents have undertaken the tedious process of stripping the plaster from walls to expose the brick beneath. Some leave the brickwork rough, while others like Gary Rider repair and smooth all the mortar, as he did in the bathroom.
Quite a few owners have converted the small back porches that grace each unit into bathrooms or powder rooms. The units were constructed with only one bathroom, on the second floor.
Several couples found they were better served to transform the smallest of the three bedrooms into a walk-in closet. The architect was stingy with closets at Arlington Court, as were most builders 100 years ago.
The walk-up third floors are unfinished storage spaces in some of the 22 townhouses, while others are elaborately furnished dens, family rooms, studios or offices. The light that pours in through the dormer winders is ideal for the artists who live there.
Nearly everyone has replaced the original wood double-hung windows with more modern, energy-efficient varieties.
Kay Michael and Jim Reader made most of those improvements to the townhouse they purchased when the former owner moved before completing the renovations he'd just started.
They opened the wall between the kitchen and dining room, converted the back porch to a powder room, converted a small bedroom to a walk-in closet and still have two good-sized bedrooms and a walk-up, finished third-floor room that stretches the length of the house.
Three years ago, Gary Rider and Claudette Hudson-Rider purchased one of the end units, which are about 500 square feet larger than the interior condos. They walked into an enviable situation. Their unit had undergone major renovations, including a new kitchen and bathroom and installation of larger windows. It also contains the only garage in Arlington Court.
Energy-efficiency-minded Rider, who works for American Electric Power, capped the chimneys and sealed the covered fireplaces except for the one in the dining room. They installed tubular terra wine tiles, which stack for handy storage, in that fireplace.