A home — at last

Published 7:44 pm Friday, May 22, 2020

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With restoration largely complete, Brandon Cook’s family moves in to former clinic


Brandon Cook, formerly of Courtland, has not only risen to the challenge he set for himself in January 2019, he has evidently surpassed himself. That’s brightly evident while walking through what had become a dilapidated century-old-house. In better days many decades before, the building was better known in Southampton County as either the Raiford Clinic or, as it later expanded, the Raiford Hospital. The facility was named after its creator, the esteemed Dr. Rufus Livius Raiford of Sedley.

As readers will recall from the summer and fall issues of this magazine, Cook’s restoration efforts were documented in words and pictures. A few past images are included for comparison.

Though he first stated about wanting to be done by July 1, that deadline got pushed to late September. Later in fall, though, is when Cook was ready to bring his wife, Morgan, and their son, Carter, to what has become their new home.

Immediately on crossing the threshold of the front entrance the transformation is unmistakable. Where once the framework was exposed, now it’s covered by Sheetrock and painted a clean white color.

At left is the entrance to an open parlor flanked by stained-glass windows made by neighbor Debbie Ricks. One states 1900 and the other 2019. At right, wooden curlicues grace the new staircase. Above, a crystal chandelier sparkles in the sunlight that’s coming from the second-story window where a Christmas tree has been set on an adjoining ledge.

The hallway ahead leads to an open living room and dining area. Lush soft carpet is in front of a restored mantle place. The kitchen and bathrooms look like something one might see in a magazine or home improvement TV show.

Morgan said that months ago she asked her husband, “What have you gotten yourself into?” During the recent tour, she gladly acknowledged, “I never thought it would turn out to how it looks.”

“I wanted to move here from the start,” he said.

Persuaded that this is the place to be, the family began moving in the week before Thanksgiving.

Cook also said the renovation process had been “a leaning curve,” that is, in some instances discovering what needed to be done as work progressed.

Throughout the ground floor, a sea theme is evident in the decoration.

“Marine life has kind of been my life. I’m a Navy veteran,” Cook said by way of explaining, and added he also has Reel Fishing Charters LLC, in which he’s able to take small parties out on the ocean in Virginia Beach and Cape Hatteras, or the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore.

Some examples of the nautical look: Atop the bottom newel post of the front-entrance staircase is a finial that’s a replica of one from the HMS Titanic; a bookshelf in Carter’s room is shaped like a boat; and wedding and family photographs show the Cooks at the seaside.

There are still finishing touches to be done here and there in places such as a first-floor breezeway, an upstairs bathroom and the outside basement, the latter of which could become a future wine cellar.

Cook stressed that he didn’t do all this work by himself. By no means. In addition to his father, Sam Cook, he expressed his gratitude to his cousin, Dylan Draper, and Eric Navitsky, both of Quality Air Makers LLC; his uncle, David Power; Jamie Britt, who was especially helpful with installing Sheetrock; Chris Rice; Steven Crawford; Mickey Bracey; Casey Brinkley; Chris King with Strait Line Seamless Gutters; and Robert “Carolina” Gurley.

“I couldn’t have done it without them.”

He also expressed gratitude to Western Tidewater Living for the stories and photos “making the house shine.”

In addition to getting a new home, the Cooks have also gained new and welcoming neighbors, such as Nick Pittman and the aforementioned Ricks. The Cooks have even found on their front porch sacks of fresh produce from other residents, grateful for the restoration.

“Many people have come up and told me how much they appreciate what’s been done.”