— Colonial National Historical Park —
"?an example of all that was fine and most lasting in Colonial domestic architecture?"
Clyde F. Trudell, 1938
Throughout its long history, the Cole Diggers House served many roles in the village of Yorktown. Originally used as a residence and warehouse, in later years was a teahouse/store and the First National Bank of Yorktown.
In 1921, Mrs. Helen Paul of Michigan bought the building and four years later began a major remodeling project transforming the 200-year old building into its current appearance by applying the Colonial Revival style made popular at Colonial Williamsburg and reflected in original and reconstructed buildings along Main Street, including Swan Tavern, the Medical Shop, and the Nelson House. Colonial Revival elements include red brick, side lights at doorways, paneled or louvered wood shutters, and multi-sash windows. John H. Scarff, the architect who developed the plans for the building, stated that the "intention of this restoration (is) to preserve the spirit of an early Eighteenth Century cottage in all details."
There were major changes to the exterior and interior, including raising the first floor seven inches, altering the north end chimney to provide a window opening on the second floor, installing an entry to the basement from Reed Street, adding wood paneling on the first floor walls, and adding a skylight in the stairwell. Slate replaced the wood shingles to protect the building from catching fire and "to give the appearance of an older roof."
In 1968, the National Park Service acquired the building. Plans to repair the failing building included retaining the slate roof. However, the slate roof was replaced with wood shingles in 1978. In 2011, a simulated slate roof replaced the wood shingles, allowing for a more durable material and an appearance that more closely resembles the building's Colonial Revival restoration.
Cole Digges House after its remodeling, circa 1930
The Cole Digges House as it appeared in the 1890s when Elizabeth Cooper operated a restaurant or teashop and store