The Emil and Anna Shaffner House sold this week for $710,000, and it was a bargain. The price for the 4,200 square-foot mansion was just $168 per square foot. That’s a lot of money, but many relatively mundane homes in upscale neighborhoods sell for far more. The Shaffner House is an extraordinary gem. An elegant stone cottage with steep gables and a tile roof, it sits on two-thirds of a beautifully wooded acre in Buena Vista.
The address is 217 N. Pine Valley Road. The house has four bedrooms and four bathrooms. The moldings, mantels and other woodwork remain unpainted. The casement windows throughout are either well-maintained originals or very good replacements. An attached garage is tucked in on the right, partly concealed by the slope of the lot. What appears to have been an open back porch with a fireplace has been enclosed, but the house still includes three levels of outdoor spaces.
The house was designed by William Roy Wallace and built in 1940. He and his mentor, Charles Barton Keen, designed a remarkable number of notable buildings in Winston-Salem in the first half of the 20th century. “Throughout his career, Wallace designed houses, schools, churches, office buildings, auditoriums, and cottages,” the NCSU Archives say in the notes on their collection of Wallace’s papers. “During much of the 20th century, he was the architect of choice for many Winston-Salem business leaders and their families as well as for business leaders in Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, and elsewhere in North Carolina.” The N.C. State collection includes the original plans for the Shaffner House and those for alterations in 1960 and an addition in 1973.
The property had been part of Westview Farm, a 147-acre model diary farm established by William Neal Reynolds (R.J.’s brother) around 1902. Twenty years alter, North Carolina’s biggest and richest city was growing to the west, and the farm was relocated to Davie County. William Neal and Katherine B. Reynolds sold off the property; two lots were sold in 1922 to Dennis G. Craven, owner of a ladies’ wear and millinery store downtown. Craven sold the lots in 1940 to Emil and Anna Shaffner, who built the house at what was then known as 217 Westview Drive West. It remained in the Shaffner family for 70 years.
Like his father before him, Emil Shaffner (1909-2003) was one of Winston-Salem’s leading businessmen. A descendant of early Moravian settlers, Henry Fries Shaffner (1887-1941) co-founded Wachovia Loan and Trust Company in 1893. After it merged with Wachovia National Bank in 1911, he rose through its leadership to become chairman of the board in 1931. As was typical of movers and shakers of the period, he was engaged in other ventures as well, including the Briggs-Shaffner Company, which made tobacco-cutting machines. The family home, a 1907 Tudor mansion at 150 S. Marshall Street, is now The Shaffner Inn B&B.
Emil was an assistant treasurer at Wachovia in 1940 when he and Anna built their home. Westview Drive was quite the neighborhood. A next-door neighbor was P. Huber Hanes Jr., future president of P.H. Hanes knitting Company. Down the street were Archie Davis, future Wachovia chairman and co-founder pf the Research Triangle Park, and Frank L. Blum, whose construction company is one of the largest in the region. Emil left the bank in 1943 to run Briggs-Shaffner, which he sold in 1968 (it’s still in business, now located in Yadkinville and producing textile manufacturing equipment). He was a co-founder of the Children’s Center for the Physically Handicapped (now the Children’s Center and part of the public school system) in 1952.
Emil and Anna sold the house to their daughter Gertrude and her husband, M. Powell Winstead, in 1976 (the deed identified the Shaffners as living in Ashe County). The Winsteads owned it until 2010, selling it to the couple who sold it this week. Anna died in May 2003 at age 92; Emil died less than five months later at 93.