In architecture, adaptive reuse (also called building reuse) refers to the repurposing of an existing structure for new use. For example, converting an old church into a restaurant, an old train station into an office space, or an old windmill into a home. Adaptive reuse architecture breathes new life into historic structures by converting them into something useful for the surrounding area.
In Cheriton, one of the most exciting things happening now is the adaptive reuse of the former Esso Park Auto Court at the intersection of Bayside Road and Bayview Circle.
The renovation is being undertaken by Sylvia and Eric Hawkins. The couple purchased the property last year with the intention of converting the bungalows into short-term and vacation rentals. The location is now called Cape Charles Tiny Living.
The couple also purchased and reside in the brick rambler next door, and are on the property overseeing all aspects of the renovation.
“We just love the Eastern Shore, we have always loved it. And one day as we were exploring, we came across the property, and just fell in love with it. It just had so much potential,” Sylvia told the Mirror.
Reuse and renovation are not new to the Hawkins’. They have renovated Airbnb properties in Richmond and Charlottesville.
“This project is a little different for us,” Eric said. “Some of the other places, our friends would look at us like we had totally gone crazy. But with Tiny Living, everyone can see the vision we have for this place.”
For residents of Cheriton, they are also excited about the vision. Many of us have been driving past these bungalows for many years just hoping someone would come and rescue them.
Eric told the Mirror that they see Cape Charles Tiny Living as a multi-faceted affair.
“We see Cape Charles Tiny Living as appealing to a new kind of vacationer, some of the younger travelers that are coming to the Shore as a destination vacation, or just passing through and want to see what the area is like,” Eric said.
Cape Charles Tiny Living is designed to fill a niche for those not looking for glitzy 5-star accommodations, but those coming for the beauty and nature that the Shore has to offer, whether coming to explore the coves and barrier islands by boat or kayak, to take part in our world-class fishing, the viticulture of Chatham Vineyard on Church Creek, agritourism, or to check out our area’s rich, historical fabric. The small footprint and eco-centric design fill a void for many destination travelers.
The Hawkins’ estimate that most of the bungalows will be completed sometime next spring.
For us locals, the project brings a sense of excitement to Cheriton which seems poised for a re-birth of its own. The timing is just about perfect. Many of us see places like downtown Cheriton and Exmore as the next, real cool spots that will exploit the quirky and little bit eccentric personalities of smalltown Eastern Shore without being overrun by excess tourism.
The original structure served as an Esso (now Exxon) auto park court, with a gas station, general store, and a series of bungalows behind:
The renovations at Cape Charles Tiny Living are right on point, with meticulous attention to detail that allows for maximum spaciousness and livability inside of a small, eco-friendly footprint. Foldaway bed and desk units are an example of how these units maximize the space.