Today Benjamin Rennolds Carpentry and Painting, LLC employs skilled carpenters and painters, as well as sub-contractors, with decades worth of experience. They have successfully undertaken numerous high profile projects and built wonderful relationships with their customers by going the extra-mile toward customer satisfaction and employing some of the “best people in the business.”
One of their highest profile projects was the restoration of the William Atkinson Jones House, which is immediately recognizable upon entering Warsaw. For those of you who may not know the house by name, it is the large white house located diagonally across the street from Rappahannock Community College. It has been lovingly preserved by the Jones family, specifically Mrs. William Atkinson Jones III and project leader
Mr. Rusty Gilfillan.
What initially started as a small job to replace 5 or 6 pieces of siding turned into a project that would last a year and a half. During the process of replacing the siding, it was discovered that the house had significant termite damage and other issues that required serious intervention to maintain the structural and aesthetic integrity of the house. Warner Elliott, one of the great master carpenters of his time, came on board and spear-headed the effort to return the Jones house to its former glory and replace the portions of the house that had suffered catastrophic damage from years of undetected termite damage. No detail was overlooked, including matching the existing siding with new wood siding that had to be specially ordered to match the original construction. They jacked up and reinforced the portions of the house that required it and replaced historically significant architectural details, like columns and exterior moldings.
During the Jones House renovation, the painting division was started out of necessity and has continued to thrive and grow as contracts are continually added to current backlog of upcoming painting and construction projects.
The Jones House is one of the most recognizable historic icons in Warsaw and was the home of William Atkinson Jones, a native son of Warsaw and Representative to the United States Congress from 1891 to 1918. He is buried in the St. Johns Episcopal Church cemetery which bears a striking monument to his life and work as a great American, congressman and advocate. Likewise it was also the home of Colonel William Atkinson Jones III, a United States Air Force officer and recipient of the United States military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, for his extraordinary and heroic actions taken during the Vietnam War.
William Atkinson Jones III was an Air Force lieutenant colonel and an A-1E Skyriader Pilot. He risked his life and showed extraordinary bravery in order to rescue the pilot of a downed American F-4 Phantom. Risking life and limb and under enemy anti-aircraft fire he visually located the downed pilot. He took out the enemy gunnery, however his aircraft had already sustained significant damage. The cockpit was hit which set his aircraft ablaze. All radio transmissions were useless due to the fire. Although he tried to eject, the fire had damaged the extraction system and only jettisoned the canopy. Colonel Jones was badly burned and without the ability to transmit the downed pilot’s position.
Jones was able to hold on to his plane in a state of what had to be excruciating and indescribable pain. In spite of all of this, he landed his damaged aircraft safely and insisted on passing on the location of the F-4 pilot while on the operating table.
As a result of his heroic actions, the downed pilot was rescued later that day. Colonel Jones survived his wounds but was killed the following year in an aircraft accident in the United States. His medal of honor was presented to his widow, Mrs. William Atkinson Jones III, by President Richard M. Nixon on August 6, 1970.
The renovation and restoration of the Jones House led to the restoration of the carriage house and old smoke house as well, which has resulted in the restoration of the main house and dependencies to their original condition.
One of the things that seems immediately evident from the outset of meeting with Benjamin is his determination and desire to surround himself with experienced people in his personal life and business, who have opened many doors for him as well as sharing their life experiences and wisdom. Jeff Brooks and Darrell Kellum are two close friends and advisors who have helped him in his business and personal life.
Benjamin’s ability to remain teachable has enabled him to serve his customers well and expand his business which now serves clients in the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and as far away as Richmond, Virginia.
Currently, the company is finishing up an upscale 5,000+ square foot waterfront home near Farnham. This project required the ability to make decisions quickly and be a good communicator, as the owners were not always readily available. It has also been a labor of love for the couple they are building the home for. In Ben’s own words, “when a customer comes to me to build the dream home that they have saved their entire lives to build, I take that very seriously… They are trusting us with the largest investment they will ever make and I will do everything I can to see that dream fulfilled, successfully.”
Benjamin’s family roots go back to Rexburg, where the Rennolds have lived in the same lovely home and on the same acreage as long as anyone can remember. Rexburg is about 8 – 9 miles North of Tappahannock on Mt. Landing Road.
His mother’s family, the Fergusons, have their roots in Urbanna. For generations the Fergusons made their living as watermen. Those of you from the area will certainly remember his grandfather’s business — J. W. Ferguson’s Seafood Company (not to be confused with Ferguson Seafood).
Coming from an old-time Rexburg farming background on his father’s side and the tough hard working waterman’s background on his mother’s side, Benjamin is no stranger to hard work. He credits his hard work in the family oyster business and his great-grandfather Buster Ferguson’s ideals in sparking his interest in one day being a business owner. One of his most striking memories as a boy is of a picture his great-grandfather had placed on a wall in the business office. The picture was of a little boy at a lemonade stand with the caption underneath that read, “everyone has to start somewhere.” Throughout his life he said he never forgot that picture, which he says gave him the motivation he needed when he started the business with his wife Angela eight years ago.
Keys to the company’s
success to date
Benjamin will be the first to tell you that the success of the company is due to his wife Angela, who keeps the business end of the company in tip top shape, his construction foreman, Michael Carneal, the painting division foreman, Jeff Townsend, and Bobby Wharton who is the company’s “everyday savior” and salesman for the business. He also credits his wife’s uncle, “Woody” Yeatman, for giving him a chance by “hiring a left-handed carpenter.” He learned so much about the building trades from Woody who gave him his first opportunity when he needed it the most.
Benjamin is adamant about stating that the keys to the success of the company are due to the people who work together to make the company successful for everyone. His goals for the future are for the continued expansion of the business, providing quality construction, carpentry and painting services to customers who in the end become lifelong friends, and sharing the success of the company with everyone who has made it successful.
If you are interested in talking with Benjamin about how they might serve your construction, renovation or painting needs, please feel free to call him anytime at 804-366-2382.
Written by Karin Andrews, Contributing Writer