Fans of 'The Waltons' plan new replica house
By EMILY SIDES
Feb. 24, 2018
SCHUYLER, Va. (AP) — Owners of the childhood home of the late Earl Hamner Jr. are planning to build a replica of the two-story home made famous in "The Waltons," Hamner's signature television creation.
The house will have a similar porch and first floor as the home portrayed in the popular '70s TV show, said Ray Castro, who co-owns the Waltons Hamner House with Carole Johnson, both long-time fans of the show. When finished, the replica house also will serve as a bed and breakfast, he said.
The pair purchased in December the property next to the Hamner house, known as the Giannini house. That home was in the family of Doris Giannini Hamner, who married Earl Hamner Sr. in 1921 and inspired the character Olivia Walton in "The Waltons."
The two originally had planned to restore the Giannini home. Castro said they ultimately decided to demolish the house, which is adjacent to Hamner's childhood home, because there were termites and black mold in the house, and part of the foundation had collapsed. The house was built in 1910 and had been vacant for about 10 years, Castro said.
"After much consideration to save the house, it just made sense to demolish it and start new," Castro said.
The replica house will be built on the property where the former Giannini house was, Castro said.
The Waltons Hamner House, which is located at 128 Tree Top Loop near Rockfish River Road in Schuyler, is where Earl Hamner Jr. grew up as the eldest of eight children, Castro said. Earl Hamner Jr. based "The Waltons" TV show, which ran from 1971 to 1981, on his experiences growing up in Schuyler.
Castro said fans come from all over the world to visit the Hamner house, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. But the Hamner house wasn't familiar to fans because it is smaller than the house depicted in the TV series, which was shot mainly in Los Angeles, Castro said.
Beatle Tapscott, owner of Tapscott Excavation & Landscape in Scottsville, said he demolished the former Giannini house and preserved a lot of the material, including doors.
Castro and Johnson are planning a groundbreaking-event for the replica house at noon March 4, at the site of the former Giannini house, which is adjacent to the Hamner house, Castro said. He added the goal is to have the debris gone by the end of the month, in time for the groundbreaking.
Minnesota resident Stephen Page is a fan turned volunteer who was in the area to visit the Hamner house for a few days this week to help Castro with different tasks around the Hamner house, such as caring for a 5-month-old puppy named Reckless after a dog in "The Waltons." Castro adopted the puppy from a Puerto Rico-based animal welfare organization after Hurricane Maria. The light-tan puppy is the newest member of the Hamner house and part of the vision to make visiting it feel like visiting "The Waltons" show, Castro said.
"When the fans come here, it's really going to be the Walton's Mountains experience," Castro said.
Page said he supports the new replica house and the bed-and-breakfast concept.
"I'm sure I'll stay there once or twice in my lifetime," Page said.
Hamner was a prolific writer and his writing was entertaining for the entire family, Page said.
"I think that's important because families tend to go their own ways with all their distractions," Page said.
Castro said the family drama show appealed to many.
"That's what we're trying to recreate here — a place where fans can come to and call home," Castro said.