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A family legacy lives on in Russell Union community - The Warren Record: News

A family legacy lives on in Russell Union community

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Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 3:00 pm

Eunice Harris Bobo, a descendant of the Russell family who settled the Russell Union community in northwestern Warren County near Oine, will celebrate her 99th birthday on Oct. 11. Though today she lives in New York, she knows she can always return to her family home place, thanks to the work of a local contractor who helped fulfill a dream.

“It was the wish of the last three living sisters that their father’s legacy live on,” said Joyce Magyune of Washington, D.C.

Joyce and her husband, Theodore, also a descendant of the family, oversaw work at the family home place, where a dedication was held over Labor Day weekend.

Eunice, the last surviving sister, was unable to attend.

Warren County’s own Keith Tunstall, owner of Environmental Builders, LLC, was chosen for the work, which, at first, was hoped to be more about restoration than rebuilding. But as Tunstall and his crew, Keith A. Tunstall and Karen Hockaday, evaluated the old home, which had been vacant for some 20 years, it became apparent there was too much rotten and damaged wood to save it.

The elder Tunstall, who taught woodworking and carpentry at Vance-Granville Community College for 45 years, said that the original house had burned and a second home built on the same site around 1945. Instead of taking the easy way out and tearing the house down, his team disassembled it piece by piece, salvaging what they could out of respect for its history and hoping to find new ways of using it.

“The whole project took 14 months, and three and a-half months to disassemble it,” Tunstall said.

Some of the salvaged studs are in the framework on the first floor, and old flooring was used on the front porch ceiling and on an interior accent wall.

“We redesigned the house trying to make the new house resemble the old house as closely as possible,” Tunstall said.

Reclaimed two-by-fours help make up the front porch railing, which mimics that of the previous home.

Though he has worked on older homes before, Tunstall said this one was the most complex and one of the most rewarding.

“We were glad and excited for the opportunity to work on this house and to try to make (Eunice’s) dreams come true,” he said. “This one was meant for us.”

About Environmental Builders

Environmental Builders, LLC specializes in new home construction, additions, renovations and repairs, with a special emphasis on green building options.

Keith Tunstall, Keith A. Tunstall and Karen Hockaday make up a team that can handle everything from drawing up blueprints to picking out product samples for customers to choose from.

“Karen and Alex (Keith A. Tunstall) have a good eye for picking colors and styles to suggest to customers,” owner Keith Tunstall said. “We try to do things as a group and all three sit down with customers, bring to customers ideas we think they’ll be happy with at the end.”

Team members do the legwork for customers who don’t have time to come up with style ideas on their own, such as researching hardwood and tile choices or “green” building products like solar technology or sustainable flooring.

“We stay relevant on what’s new,” Keith Tunstall said, “and we pride ourselves in the work we do and have good customer satisfaction.”

The company has done everything from new construction to renovations and additions, Tunstall said, as far away as West Virginia, but he would like to do more work in Warren County.

“A lot of people know me and find out about my work through word of mouth,” he said. “We’d like to get more into new construction and even try to do some small home building.”

A tiny house may not be out of the realm of possibilities if the right customer comes along.

“When someone hires us, they get all of us. We try to put our hands on as much as possible, which means fewer subcontractors,” Tunstall said.

Tunstall may be reached by calling 252-213-1266 or 252-257-5281.