Rebuilding the clubhouse

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, April 8, 2010

North Suffolk residents and passersby will soon notice some activity in the middle of the Nansemond River.

The Ballard Clubhouse, which was washed away during a nor’easter in November, will start the rebuilding process soon, said Drex Bradshaw, one of the owners of the mid-river home.

“It’s going to be rebuilt,” Bradshaw said. “It’s got all the permits. We’re in the process now of building the houses.”

The construction process for a building that stands in the middle of the river is not as complicated as it might seem, Bradshaw said. The buildings are built on land, then transferred by barge to the site and placed on top of the pilings with the help of a crane.

“Probably, in retrospect, it’s much easier to build them on land than it is hauling all that stuff out there,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw has received all the permits for the building, he said, even getting express approval from Gov. Timothy Kaine in December.

The Ballard Clubhouse was originally constructed in the 1930s by Robert Hall Ballard. It stood at the mouth of the Nansemond River for decades before collapsing during Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Bradshaw and others resurrected it by 2006, only to have it washed away again in 2009.

“It’ll look just like it did when it was built in 1930,” Bradshaw said. “It will be new materials, but from a distance it will look the same.”

Bradshaw and a group of others are financing the project themselves, he said. The clubhouse recently was transferred to a new limited liabilities corporation to get more people involved.

The first step in the project is getting the piles driven into the river, Bradshaw said.

“One day you’ll see them out there working, and probably in the next two or three days you’ll see the building appear,” Bradshaw said. “We’ll take a crane and a barge, put all the stuff on it and take it out there.”

Construction should be getting started within the next month, Bradshaw said.