Green Front Furniture exec’s Monument Ave. mansion undergoing $1.5M restoration

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A sign in front of the house at 2315 Monument Ave. notes the restoration that’s about to get underway. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

As Richmonders converge on Monument Avenue for this Sunday’s Easter on Parade, many will notice the makings of what’s planned to be a two-year restoration of one of the street’s standout homes – the residence, it so happens, of the main sponsor of this year’s event.

A sign posted out front of 2315 Monument Ave., the Mediterranean-style mansion owned by Green Front Furniture CEO Den Cralle, informs passersby that the 100-year-old house is about to undergo a restoration and expansion in keeping with its original building plans, parts of which were never realized but will be with the project.

Work is set to ramp up after Easter on Parade, which Cralle’s Farmville-based business is sponsoring this year along with local law firm Lantz & Robins, co-led by fellow Monument homeowner Michael Lantz.

Cralle, who bought his house in 2021 and splits time between Richmond and Farmville, said his three years in the home are informing the restoration, which will include renovations of the first and second floors, updates to bathrooms and windows, and an addition off the home’s west side to expand the kitchen and open the house out to its Charles Gillette-designed gardens.

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A rendering of the back of the house shows the lattice walls to be added around the rear courtyard. The addition is shown at left.

The project also will add lattice walls behind the home to better enclose the rear courtyard, restoring a feature included in the original plans of architect William Bottomley. Parts of the lattice will be placed atop the garage, which will be converted from two bay to three without altering the structure.

Cralle said interior renovations identified over the past couple years added up to a point that a full restoration made sense for the house.

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Den Cralle (BizSense file)

“It came to the point where if we’re going to do this, we might as well do it,” Cralle said. “It’s going to be a pretty comprehensive project that’s going to take probably up to two years.”

Cralle is working with SMS Architects’ Matson Roberts Jr., who is designing the restoration, and interior designer Avery Frank Designs. R.A. Praught Construction is the general contractor.

He said research for the project revealed more history about the house, which was built in 1924 for J. Scott Parrish and his wife and was altered when it was used in the 1960s and ’70s by a tuberculosis association, according to a project summary.

“We found all these old pictures of the house that I’ve never seen before, taken in the early ’40s,” Cralle said. “We found that the back of the house originally had a full privacy lattice that encompassed the garage. We got the green light to remake that structure because it was original to the home.

“We definitely have been doing a lot of digging in terms of finding little nuggets about this house, and the City of Richmond was flexible and worked with us to make all this a reality,” he said.

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The addition to the west side of the house will open it out to its gardens and enclose that part of the property.

The project was approved last April by Richmond’s Commission of Architectural Review, and a building permit was awarded in October. Cralle said the sign was placed out front a month or two ago, and fencing for the addition went up in recent weeks.

Cralle put the overall cost of the project at about $1.5 million. He bought the 7,500-square-foot house for nearly $2.3 million, beating out competing offers that came in a year after the house was listed for sale in 2020. The previous owner bought it five years earlier but never moved in.

Cralle, who co-owns Green Front Furniture with his father, Richard Cralle, has been documenting the interior renovation on an Instagram page called Monument by Green Front. He said the photo and video content would continue over the course of the two-year restoration.

“We now have enough backlog of content and interviews over the last two years to really start telling that whole story of the history of the house,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of really good content we’ve been collecting, so I really want to tell that story, because at a certain point we’ll hit current day as we’re doing this remodel.

“It really is kind of an experiment to promote Green Front and the house. And doing this, why not document it and tell a fun story?”

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Fencing for the addition went up in recent weeks.

During last year’s Easter on Parade, Cralle could be seen out front greeting attendees and welcoming some inside for a tour. He said he won’t be able to open up the house this year but will be out front again taking part in the festivities.

“I had so much fun last year, I was like, ‘Let’s do it again,’” he said. “Obviously we’re not going to have the full spread. Me and a few of my friends will probably be hanging out in the front courtyard.”

While construction is underway, Cralle said he’s renting a home on Rothesay Circle after deciding against a plan to live on-site through the renovation.

“The idea was, ‘Oh, I’ll live on the third floor while they renovate.’ It was like, ‘No, that’s a bad idea,’” he said with a laugh.

POSTED IN Residential Real Estate

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Charles Simmons
Charles Simmons
19 days ago

Glad to see the seriousness regarding historical accuracy being taken in this restoration. Not very common today, unfortunately.

Jake Kelly
Jake Kelly
19 days ago

Always been on of my favorites as I walk by it. Glad to see it’s getting some love.