The Peter Clemmons House has been a general store, meeting house, tavern, inn, stagecoach stop and possibly a boarding house. As the local tavern in the 1830s, it provided space for the first Methodist church services in the town. And it’s reasonable to think at some point since 1805 it was a family home. For the past 25 years, it has been empty.
The Clemmons House was sold for $212,750 on May 20. It had been put up for sale on March 2, and two days later the owners accepted a full-price offer. The house has the somewhat awkward configuration of six bedrooms and one bathroom (at 3,500 square feet, couldn’t someone in the last 215 years have found room for at least one more bathroom?). The lot is just under an acre.
The price works out to a very modest $61 per square foot. “It will require a complete rehabilitation,” the listing said. “The house has not been lived in since 1995, and the heir does not know if the systems, such as water, septic, heat will function.” The roof and exterior paint are new, so that’s something.
The address is 3736 Clemmons Road (aka U.S. 158) in Clemmons. The house is surrounded by a mix of shops and offices. Some homes are still hanging in there, too. Like many landmark homes, creative reuse may be the Clemmons House’s key to a sustainable future, but that won’t be anything new.
Peter and Comfort Clemmons
Mill owner and storekeeper Peter Clemmons (1749-1815) was born in Virginia and in 1777 moved from Delaware to what is now Forsyth County. He was a Quaker; he and his wife, Comfort Clemmons, are said to have had 14 or 15 children (James, Susannah, Rebecca, Mary, Peter Jr., John, Ezekiel, Sarah, Rachel, Comfort, Alphonsine, Lydia, Benton, Ann, and there may have been a William in there as well).
Peter Sr. also was an author; his subject was righteousness. Poor Peter’s Call to His Children and to All Others Who Can Hear and Believe was printed in 1812 (an almost readable edition is available at the invaluable Internet Archive, probably scanned by an optical character reader not optimized for early 19th-century printing).
“It has been thirty years and I believe upwards since my mind was first moved with a desire to write something for your instruction in the way of righteousness which you all might peruse and meditate on when my body lies speechless in the silent grave, that by reading what I have wrote you might remember the griefs and sorrows I have had,” it begins (I think).
Whatever those those griefs and sorrows were, history remembers him as the community’s leading citizen. By 1816 it was known as Clemmonstown. It was incorporated in 1824 as Clemmonsville.
Senior and Comfort are believed to have been buried on the property, which was originally 216 acres. They left it to son Benton (most of the others apparently left the area). There are no headstones for the Clemmonses; the evidence is an 1839 appeal by Benton to his creditors: “I own a small grave yard in Clemmonsville and where my father and mother and two of my children is buried and two tomb stones for to put on my children’s graves and I would thank my creditors if they please to not sell my grave yard and tombstones and let me keep this much property as long as I live as I don’t want my parents and children sold for others to trample over.” That graveyard is believed to be the Eccles family cemetery, nearby on Clemmons Road.
Around 1870, grandson Edwin Clemmons used the house as a stagecoach stop. He owned stage lines based in Salem and traveling to Asheville, High Point, Raleigh and Wytheville, Virginia. One of his stagecoaches survives and is a featured attraction at the village hall.
The last 150 years apparently have been more mundane. No previous owner got the property listed as a county landmark or National Register property, which would qualify it for a property-tax reduction and tax credits for restoration, respectively. The property does have a historic preservation easement, though, which should protect it for whatever further changes the future has for it.