Boyettes’ 26-room Sheffield Mansion to be featured on HGTV

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Mickey and Denise Boyette spent years longing for the chance to peek inside the elegant Sheffield Mansion.

For nearly three decades, the Virginia Beach couple would occasionally drive to Suffolk, grab lunch from McDonald’s and go park outside the pillared, brick house on South Broad Street.

&uot;When we first got married, we would sit in the car, in front of the house, and try to think of a way we could see the inside,&uot; recalled Boyette, owner of Heirlooms of Tomorrow in downtown Suffolk.

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Five years ago, his father – a Virginia Beach resident who was raised in Suffolk – happened to drive past the 21,000-square-foot house that had fallen victim to years of neglect. When he noticed a sale sign in the window, he called his son.

The next day, the Boyettes had finally got the chance to see inside their dream house.

Hours later, they put a contract on the 26-room house they had admired from afar for so many years.

The house was built in 1911 by a railroad tycoon who came to Suffolk, Boyette said. It took construction crews, some from as far away at New York City, three years to build the $75,000 house. The average cost of building a house was $1,400 at that time, he added.

Luckily, the rest of the world won’t have to wait as long as the Boyettes did for a glimpse into the spectacular mansion. Millions of people will have a chance to see the house next week, when the Boyettes and their home are featured on &uot;Generation Renovation,&uot; a show on the Home & Garden Network.

The show is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10.

Generation Renovation, which is kicking off its second season this month, spotlights home enthusiasts who put in the hard work to bring new life to unique old homes.

&uot;The most important thing we look for is a dramatic change, a large transformation in what the home looks like,&uot; said Joni Emily, a producer for Generation Renovation. &uot;It’s vital to us that the homeowners be actively involved in the renovation.

&uot;In other words, we don’t want someone who handed the house keys over to a contractor and stroked a check to cover the renovation expenses.&uot;

That’s not an issue for the Boyette, whose hands were blistered and bleeding for months after he scrubbed the inlaid hardwood floors with paint thinner.

&uot;My enjoyment comes from buying an old property and seeing how pretty I can make it,&uot; said Boyette. Since moving to Suffolk and completing most of the renovations to his own home, he and a partner have purchased several old houses to renovate in and around downtown Suffolk.

Although the house is only receiving a few minutes of air time, camera crews spent 15 to 20 hours taping the house on two different days this summer, he said.

The Boyettes are not being given a sneak peek of their first television appearance – which makes them a little nervous, Mickey said.

&uot;We are going to see it with everyone else,&uot; he said. &uot;But we’ll probably end up losing our electricity that night or something.&uot;

While taping in Virginia last summer, the Generation Renovation crews also got footage of homes in Drewryville, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Emily said. They will be airing on shows in November and December.

Elizabeth McCoury, the city’s former downtown development director,

told the H&G Network about the Sheffield house, initially for another show, &uot;Mansions Across America., Boyette said. Producers came out but said the Boyette’s home didn’t quite fit the bill for that show.

&uot;We thought that was the end of it,&uot; Boyette said. &uot;Then about six months ago, they called up and wanted us to appear on this show.

&uot;It’s kind of exciting.&uot;