On Monday, three generations of floor covering installers were at the rendezvous – including two on their knees – at the historic Duval-Metz house in the Cité Florale.
Paul Clemens, 92, who started a flooring business in 1976 in Homosassa, his son, Chris, and Chris’s son, Dave, had come to install hardwood floors in the kitchen of the historic home built by the former Confederate soldier John Paul. Formy-Duval around 1866.
Chris Clemens and his business partner Joe Bell opened Surface Flooring in Homosassa in 2005; Dave works with them and Paul is retired.
“What we’re doing today is installing engineered hardwood flooring…that looks like old, old, flooring, like it came from an old fence,” said Chris Clemens .
Surface Flooring donated all materials and their labor for the project.
The Duval-Metz House, which sits on the property at the corner of Orange Avenue and Old Floral City Road in Floral City, was purchased in 2012 by the Duval Preservation Trust, established by HD Bassett, a descendant of Formy -Duval.
Since then, the aim has been to restore the house as a complement to the neighboring heritage museum. The kitchen, which was once a separate building, was moved and joined to the main house, likely after the arrival of electricity to Floral City in 1913.
The restoration of the kitchen is also one of the last projects to be completed.
As Chris, Dave and their team nailed the floorboards in place, Paul Clemens spoke to the Chronicle about his more than 50 years in the flooring business, starting in Orlando where he grew up.
“I started in 1945 when I was still in high school,” Clemens said. “I worked part-time after school. At the time, I was making 25 cents an hour, which was a good salary at the time. … Then I got a 50 cent raise, and eventually I was making $1.30 an hour.
After a stint in the Air Force during the Korean War, Clemens and a partner opened Stoll & Clemens Flooring in Orlando; their company installed the flooring in original attractions at Disney, Sea World and Circus World parks.
In 1976, Clemens and his late wife moved to Citrus County and opened Clemens Flooring, across from the Howard Flea Market in Homosassa.
Later his son Chris joined him.
“At that time they were selling five acres of land for $1,500 – $20 down and $20 a month,” Clemens said. “I bought five acres and then another five acres next door on Palmer Road near Cardinal Lane.”
He said his son started working with him “when he was just on the belt”, and Chris said the same about his son.
Chris Clemens said he learned from his father that work comes first, before taking a lunch break, and that integrity is more important than profits.
Dave said his grandfather taught him, “Ten good jobs will win you one, and one bad job will lose you 10 – word of mouth is a big deal.
Clemens went into semi-retirement in 1990 when he purchased property in Bat Cave, North Carolina, not far from Asheville.
“I say semi-retired because when I got there people kept asking me to do their floors,” he said, adding that he had probably been over 15 years. was laying floors, but he hasn’t forgotten how to do it, and he still has his tools.
On Monday, during work in the kitchen, some inhabitants of the Cité Florale involved in the heritage and preservation of the Cité Florale gathered under the porch of the Maison Duval-Metz.
“It’s just my opinion, but it’s one of the most important projects this small community has been involved in,” said Frank Peters. “We have other historic structures, but this is the oldest residential structure in the county, and it dates back to the Civil War.”
Chris Clemens said that’s what made him want to do this.
“We’re here, three generations in this business working on the oldest home in Citrus County,” he said, “what better business to do this with?”