The Ray-Jamerson House: An Affordable 1886 Beauty in Eden

Update: The Ray-Jamerson House sold for $217,500 on October 29, 2020.

Maybe it’s time to take another look at Eden. I drove up there recently to visit the Central Leaksville Historic District, particularly to take a drive-by look at 527 Patrick Street. Gorgeous neighborhood, gorgeous house, and amazingly affordable. After an afternoon wandering around town, I came away wondering if the town might be the Triad’s best undiscovered place for affordable historic homes.

County records list 527 Patrick as being built in 1920, but that would be way late for a Queen Anne like this. The historic district’s National Register nomination gives a more likely 1886 date. The house has three bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,456 square feet. The listing’s pictures show the house to be in very good condition. The lot is 0.57 acre. It’s priced at $219,900, $90 per square foot. That’s a fabulous price compared to what a similar house would cost in, say, one of the historic districts in Greensboro or Winston-Salem.

“The unaltered c. 1886 Ray-Jamerson House at 527 Patrick Street is perhaps the district’s best example of the popular two-story L-shaped vernacular Queen Anne style, characterized by a cross-gable roof, deep eaves with molded box cornices, returns, plain frieze boards, roof covered with standing seam metal, and a three-sided projecting bay window,” the district’s National Register nomination says. “The porch has unusual turned posts and sawn spandrels in an elaborate foliate motif; it shelters the original double entrance door with two-pane transom.”

Amazingly, the 134-year-old house has had only three owners. It was built by B.W. Ray and his wife, Helen Betts Ray. He was headmaster of the new Leaksville Practical High School; she was a teacher at the school. They had come from New York, and after Mrs. Ray’s death about 20 years later, Mr. Ray returned there. He kept the house as a rental property. For a time it was a boarding house, according to the invaluable A Tale of Three Cities: A Pictorial Survey of Leaksville, Spray and Draper (if the link doesn’t work, search for the book on Ebay). In the ’20s, Mr. and Mrs. S.H. Jamerson moved in with their family. They lived there for about 20 years before buying the house from Ray’s son in 1945. The Jamersons’ descendants sold the house to the current owners in 1981 for $32,000. They restored the house to its current lovely state.

The ‘Land of Eden’

The town’s story is worth summarizing for those coming in late. In 1728, a surveyor was so impressed with the area he called it the “land of Eden.” And so, about 70 years later, a community had formed, and the residents decided to call it “Leaksville,” caring little for history or poetry. Then another community formed very nearby, and they decided to call that one “Splashy,” because of a waterwheel on the Smith River there, to hear The North Carolina Gazetteer tell it. Later, they decided “Spray” was an even better name. And then another little town formed almost on top of the others, and they came up with the relatively colorless “Draper,” after a local mill owner. By 1967 the small towns decided to merge. This time, they did look back into history. The towns’ great industrialist, John Motley Morehead, already had a city named for him, so they put his name on the high school and the hospital and called the town “Eden.”

The oldest residential section of the combined town is the Central Leaksville Historic District. “The predominant historic fabric of the district dates primarily from the 1850s to c. 1935, although there are a few houses that date from the 1810s-1840s,” the NRHP nomination says.

It’s a well-preserved and architecturally diverse neighborhood, including “a substantial number of antebellum structures, and a wide variety of residences dating from the 1870s to c. 1935. They exhibit a number of locally and nationally popular architectural styles including vernacular folk types, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Bungalow, English Tudor Revival, and Dutch Colonial Revival.”

Here are some highlights of Eden’s current and recent listings. The prices of even the grander homes are relatively modest (note the price-per-square-foot figures).

514 patrick street eden

514 Patrick Street
The Dunn-Sykes-Hunnings House

  • Sold for $174,900 on August 21, 2020 (listed at $174,900)
  • 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2,856 square feet, 0.30 acre
  • Price/square foot: $61
  • Built in 1920
  • Listed June 15, 2020
  • Last sale: $122,500, July 2000
  • Neighborhood: Central Leaksville Historic District
  • District’s NRHP nomination: “A group of three exceptionally well-preserved one-and-one-half story frame bungalows, constructed between 1910 and 1920 and ornamented with a variety of decorative elements, is located at 510, 512 and 514 Patrick Street. They differ slightly and represent variations on a theme. The house at 510 Patrick has a gracious wraparound porch and gabled dormer; 512 Patrick has multi-pane casement windows and a bay window; 514 Patrick features an engaged porch carried by tapering box posts on brick plinths and a broad gable roof with a shed-roof dormer. “

527 moir street eden

527 Moir Street 
The Trogden-Williams-Cox House
contract pending June 22, 2020
no longer under contract July 10, 2020

  • $139,900
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 3,348 square feet, 0.33 acre
  • Price/square foot: $42
  • Built in 1880
  • Listed June 11, 2020
  • Last sale: $90,000, November 2018
  • Note: The house apparently had been divided into two apartments: “2nd level room can be converted back into 2nd kitchen.”
    • From A Tale of Three Cities: Eden’s Heritage, A Pictorial History of Leaksville, Spray and Draper: “The Queen Anne style house is characterized by its irregular composition of asymmetrical gabled wings projecting from a central hip-roofed block. Decoration is concentrated in the front wing, which has bracketed clipped corners, curved raking board ends, and ornamental bracing. Tuscan columns support a wrap-around porch, truncated by a sizable, one-story flat-roofed addition made after 1930.”

417 S. Hamilton Street
contract pending September 23, 2020

  • $165,000
  • 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 1,879 square feet, 0.56 acre
  • Price/square foot: $88
  • Built in 1936
  • Listed September 18, 2020
  • Last sale: $130,000, December 2016
  • Note: The next-door neighbor to the left, 421 S. Hamilton, is in the Central Leaksville Historic District; 417 is out. Apparently they drew the line at 1935.
305 jackson street eden.jpg

305 Jackson Street

  • Sold for $130,500 on August 31, 2020 (listed at $132,500)
  • 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1,228 square feet, 0.39 acre
  • Price/square foot: $106
  • Built in 1955
  • Listed July 14, 2020
  • Last sale: $21,500, February 2019
  • Note: A Mid-Century Modern home, not common in Eden

1011 Center Church Road
The Johns Manor House (also known as the Johns-Osborne House)

  • $390,000
  • 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3,970 square feet, 2.55 acres
  • Price/square foot: $98
  • Built in 1840 (sometimes listed as 1850)
  • Listed June 18, 2019
  • Last sale: $20,000, December 2009
  • Note: Designated as a historic landmark by the Eden Historic Preservation Commission. It sits well above the street just outside the Central Leaksville Historic District.
    • Listing: “Built between 1840 and 1850 by Dr. Anthony Johns, one of the first physicians in Leaksville.”
    • The property has been used as an event center “but can be a grand private residence.”
    • City ordinance designating the house as a historic landmark: “The original house was a large brick, one-room-deep, two-story structure with a rear two-story ell. … The main house was enlarged in the late 19th or early 20th century with a two-story addition behind the original structure. In the mid-20th century, a one-story wing over a basement was added on the rear and east side of the main house. A wide two-story portico with square columns was also added sometime in the 20th century, giving the home a ‘Mount Vernon’ style appearance.”
351 w. meadow road.jpg

351 W. Meadow Road
The Eggleston-Ziglar House
Blog post — Rivermont in Eden: A Landmark 1936 Mansion on the Smith River, $650,000 (January 20, 2020)
listing withdrawn March 6, 2020
relisted March 16, 2020

  • $575,000 (originally $650,000)
  • 5 bedrooms, 5 full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms, 5,231 square feet (per county records), 15.06 acres
  • Price/square foot: $110
  • Built in 1936
  • Last sales: $400,000, March 2019; $455,000, September 2017
  • Neighborhood: Leaksville
  • Note: Was for sale by owner, now listed with an agent
    • The home’s new owners bought the house in March 2019, made some renovations, secured designation for it as a local landmark in June and now have put it up for sale again at 62 percent more than they paid for it.
    • The property is on the Smith River.
    • From the previous FSBO listing: “Rivermont would make a great home for entertaining, a B&B or wedding venue.” The last previous owners marketed it as a performance and event venue.
    • The house still has its slate roof.

912 Bethlehem Church Road

  • $725,000
  • 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms, 4,872 square feet, 132 acres
  • Price/square foot: $149
  • Built in 1890
  • Listed September 17, 2020
  • Last sale: $119,000, September 1972
  • Note: Formerly the 912 Bethlehem restaurant
    • The property includes a pond and stables with five stalls. 
    • “… Large den with gorgeous rock fireplace with a hard pine mantle from Spray Mercantile Building. Room has wormy Chestnut paneling and a separate air unit.”
    • “The kitchen for the restaurant was created from the two car garage. There is a separate office beside the home.”

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