Riverhouse rising again

Published 5:35 pm Saturday, June 19, 2010

After its destruction at the hands of nature eight months ago, the Ballard Clubhouse is nearly rebuilt.

For several weeks, reconstruction has been going on in the middle of the Nansemond River, resurrecting the iconic home from the pounding waves of a November nor’easter that swept the building away.

Owner Drex Bradshaw has taken steps to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

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“We added some strength to it,” said Bradshaw, who bought the house after Hurricane Isabel destroyed it in 2003. “There is a tremendous amount of hardware in there.”

The house now sits higher up on new pilings, Bradshaw said. He wanted to drive new pilings and raise the house the first time he rebuilt it, he said, but could not because of time constraints.

“This time, we had a little more time,” he said.

The house, located at the mouth of the Nansemond River, originally was owned by Robert Hall Ballard. Bradshaw and Maxann Morrison purchased the building from the United States Power Squadron after Isabel’s destruction and resurrected it to its original condition by the summer of 2006.

The reconstruction of the house is nearly complete, and inside build-out is ongoing. Bradshaw hopes to have the house completed before he hosts an Independence Day celebration there next month.

Community members are enthusiastic about its return, Bradshaw said.

“I’ve had hundreds of people that I see at various places say, ‘We’re glad to see it back up,’” Bradshaw said.

He hopes this is the last time the Ballard Clubhouse needs to be rebuilt.

“I never thought in five years we’d lose it twice to 100-year storms,” he said. “If Mother Nature decides to take this one away, Norfolk and Virginia Beach will be long gone.”