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A fully renovated home that sits on Dallas Avenue in the Schoolfield community now belongs to a former Marine and Afghanistan war veteran who served nearly 10 years before suffering a traumatic brain injury.
The keys and deed were handed over to Charles Edward Duke Jr. during a ceremony held Saturday morning in front of the house at 41 Dallas Ave.
“This house is a blessing,” Duke said following the ceremony. “As a Marine, you are told that you cannot show tears, but I’ve got tears in my eyes now. This is my first house.”
Duke also noted that the neighborhood is quiet, which will be a welcome change from the noisy apartment complex where he has resided. He has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a veteran experiences a traumatic event.
The house given to Duke was donated to the City of Danville and the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority as part of the City’s blight eradication program. The house initially was to be demolished, but the City instead turned the house over for renovation to the Dan River Region Association of Realtors and American Legion Post 1097.
“We decided that we wanted to do something meaningful in the community, so we started discussing veterans in need because there are so many,” said Kelli Hauser, president of the Realtors association and owner/principle broker at Hauser Manasco Realty Group.
Jim Houser, a real estate agent with ERA Holley & Gibson Realty Co. who served as project manager for the house renovation, said the renovations were extensive.
“There were a lot of challenges with this house,” Houser said. “The house had a lot of termite damage. Plaster was broken. In the back portion of the house, the flooring was sunken. We had to rip out the back flooring and put in new floor joists. We virtually gutted the entire house.”
The roof had to be repaired due to leaks.
The association raised money for the project, and real estate agents and affiliates with home repair and renovation skills volunteered many hours toward the project.
“We raised a lot of money, but fortunately we had a lot of people contribute to this project as well,” Houser said. “It’s been an expensive project, but a worthy project.”
Bill Joyce, owner and operator of Joyce Electrical Co., was one of many contractors who assisted in the renovation.
“They called me and asked me if I could be available and I told them ‘absolutely’,” Joyce said. “Once I got over here, I saw that everything was going to have to be done. But that’s fine. It’s wired like a brand new home now.”
Inside the electrical panel, Joyce inscribed, “May God bless this house.”
“I shared that with him (Duke) and how great God has been to me and blessed my home,” Joyce said. “That is why I did that.”
Duke was selected to receive the house through an application process conducted by Post 1097.
“We reached out to the local VA (Veterans Administration) office and other veterans organizations, said Ray Barbour, Post 1097 adjutant. “He (Duke) met the criteria. He is a disabled veteran and I think he will do well in this neighborhood.”
According to real estate records, the two-bedroom, one-bath house was built in 1930 and has 1,074 square feet of finished space.