NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — “One day I was riding by this house and it just called out to me. It said, ‘You have to buy that house, you have to restore it!.'”
And, Mary Kayaselcuk, a 42-year veteran Newport News city employee, did buy what’s known as the “Harwood House” at 5400 Huntington Avenue.
“It’s such a significant property, in North End,” Kayaselcuk said.
“Mary K,” as she’s known at City Hall, would know. Part of her job at City Hall is to help maintain and restore
“This home was a private residence for the Harwood family. He [W.W. Harwood] was an early pioneer, citizen
merchant. And his wife, Montague Harwood, was a local educator. She started the Newport News female academy in downtown Newport News,” said Kayaselcuk.
Kayaselcuk knew from experience that restoring the Harwood House, built in 1900, would be costly.
“I probably spent over a half-million dollars, excluding the purchase price,” said Kayaselcuk, after
about 10 years of painstakingly detailed work, including repairing and refurbishing all windows up to the
In 2015, she decided to give the Harwood House to the city, in hopes the restoration work would continue.
“This [Harwood House] is a great example of the turn-of-the-century properties that were built here along
Huntington Avenue as the railroad transformed the rural, agricultural Warwick County to the industrial city,”
said Anne Miller, superintendent of Historic Services in Newport News.
North End, Huntington Heights neighbors David Galinski and Chris Schappell restored two equally historic
homes, just one block away at 55th Street.
Schappell said the efforts have been “a labor of love. These homes have such individual character.”
Galinski agrees. “We don’t have many beautiful historic homes in the City of Newport News because the
City of Newport News is not that old,” Galinski said.
The One City Historical Foundation has helped raise about $30,000 toward the six figures needed for a new roof and porch.
Councilwoman Tina Vick says the city will help.
“We’ve already appropriately some money in the capital improvement plan budget, but I’m looking forward
to looking for even more funding so that we can actually do all of the repairs,” Vick said.
Vick sees a renovated Harwood House as a sort of “meeting place and history place” that could showcase
the history of how the city, and Newport News Shipbuilding, grew together.
“This could be a gathering place for so many potential activities by our citizens, ” said Kayaselcuk, “And it’s
my gift to the city. And I hope that the city will continue the work that I started.”