An 1889 Restoration Candidate in Kernersville: The First Thing It Needs Is a Good, Sturdy Fence

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The owner of 4981 George West Road in Kernersville apparently doesn’t think much of the house. The listing mainly is concerned with two other things. One is how nice the flat, 1-acre lot would be for a home site. The other is this goat:

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Listing: “If there is an Old Billy Goat Gruff in the yard, RUN! He is the neighbors and shouldn’t be there!”

The goat lives nearby (supposed to, anyway) and may not appreciate having visitors on the turf he’s staked out. Since the neighbors haven’t put up a fence, that may well be the first thing a buyer will want to do. It also appears that the goat may be eating the house, so someone needs to get on it right away.

“This is a bit over an acre of FLAT land with a few old trees that would make a gorgeous homesite!” the owner says, seeming to overlook that it’s already a home site. The house was built in 1889, and from the outside it appears to have a bit of charm.

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It has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and 1,054 square feet. There are no pictures of the inside. The house has no heating or cooling systems. The asking price is $30,000 or an economical $29 per square foot. With some work, it could be a sweet little place, a home with more character than whatever a new owner is likely to come up with to replace it.

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The outbuilding seen above appears to be a neighbor’s, judging from the county GIS system photo below.

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The house has a Kernersville address, but it’s closer to Walkertown, just east of U.S. 158.

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The 1839 Davie County Jail: A National Register Property in Mocksville Is For Sale in an Online Auction

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Davie County’s original jail was built in Mocksville in 1839, three years after the county was established. Now it’s the centerpiece of an online auction of five properties all on the same downtown corner. Prospective buyers can bid on the properties separately or all of them together.

The jail is the centerpiece. It housed the county’s most armed and dangerous for 70 years and then became a residence. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 2001 the current owner bought it and converted it to office use.

A brief rundown of the deal:

The online auction is scheduled to run until Thursday November 14 at 6 p.m. (click here for details and any changes). For comparison, the jail and other properties were listed for sale as a package in 2018 for $580,000; in 2015 it was listed for $620,000.

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As the video shows, there’s nothing left to identify the building as a jail except for the plaque. Still, it’s a substantial piece of local history. “The Davie County Jail is of considerable local significance, for its history parallels that of the county since its founding,” the National Register nomination states. “The sturdy, well maintained building with its handsome Flemish bond brickwork is an important Mocksville landmark.”

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The lot for the jail and guest house, as seen above, is a nicely wooded half acre. The jail’s address is 284 S. Main Street (online listing). It’s listed as having 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, 1,752 square feet.

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One odd detail: The kitchen appears to be upstairs.

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The guest house is being sold with the jail. It has about 858 square feet. The garden lot sits behind the guest house, well off the street.

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The entire package is 1.27 acres. The two additional houses are the “Yellow House” and the “Gray House,” 131 and 141 E. Lexington Road, respectively. The aerial view shows Lexington Road, U.S. 64, at the top and South Main Street, U.S. 158, at the right.

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131 Lexington has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 3,046 square feet. It was built in 1898.

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141 Lexington is a bungalow with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and 1,272 square feet. It was built in 1933. Both houses have vinyl siding. These are the only pictures of the two houses available.

A 1955 Mid-Century Masterpiece in Greensboro, $1.099 Million

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Mid-Century Modern never generated any great mass appeal among mainstream home buyers. It’s too out-there for the typical family. And you won’t find a Mid-Century home much further out there than 3905 Henderson Road in Greensboro’s remarkable Hamilton Lakes neighborhood. The house is for sale at $1.099 million. The price has been reduced a bit since it was listed (originally $1.195 million), but it’s still $384 per square foot, a rather breath-taking price for any type of house in Greensboro.

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The 1955 home has everything you think of with Mid-Century design — lots of glass that brings the indoors and outdoors together, modern materials, sleek lines, flat roofs and an ultra-clean, uncluttered look. More than 60 years after it was built, it still looks as “modern” as the day it was finished. The house has 4 bedrooms and three bathrooms, 2,886 square feet on a lot of 0.4 acre.

Designed by Thomas Hayes for his college roommate, it’s known as the Will and Diane Howard House (Hayes and Howard went to N.C. State). “Their home featured a flat roofline and solid wood and brick exterior walls that alternated with voids of glass,” Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro wrote. “Interior spaces were austere, featuring areas of terrazzo and carpet coupled with masonry and textured walls. Unusual details include clerestory windows located between ceiling joists and a copper hood above the fireplace. True to the style, public spaces are logically separated from private as the form of the house is dictated by the function of spaces. Form follows function.”

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The Howards sold the house in 1967. Eventually, it fell on hard times, so hard it was included on the N.C. Modernist endangered list in 2013. Then, it was bought and restored by the current owners, Liz and Mike Felsen. The house “has been completely restored to its former glory w/open floor plan, sleek lines, walls of glass, original terrazzo floors, 6 outdoor terraces & 2-story Casita. Completely rebuilt by Gary Jobe [a prominent Greensboro builder], preserving almost everything in the original 1955 plan,” the listing says.

The reconstruction addressed “long-term challenges related to materials, drainage, and sustainability,” Briggs wrote. “It retains its original H-shaped plan and honors the scope, scale and materials of the initial design.”

The casita was a later addition, beautifully complementing the original. It could serve as a mother-in-law suite, if you have a really sophisticated mother-in-law.

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Mid-Century Modern continues to have an enthusiastic following. We’ve tracked 18 sales of Mid-Century homes in the Piedmont this year, and six sold at or above their asking prices. The Howard house is the most spectacular of the recently available Mid-Century homes in the area. There are few chances to buy such a remarkable example of the style.

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Restoration Project of the Week: Holt’s Chapel, Haw River, $75,000

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One of Haw River’s first churches is for sale for $75,000. Holt’s Chapel was built in 1896 as the first and only home of Haw River’s Methodist Episcopal church. By 1942, the town’s two Methodist churches merged, following the national merger of their denominations. The chapel was used for Sunday school, and what had been the Methodist Protestant church on the hill behind the chapel was used for worship services.

More recently, the building was to be the home of an antiques and auction business, but it’s not clear whether the shop ever opened there.

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The address is 401 W. Main Street. Inside, there’s what looks to be some relatively new framing, but otherwise it’s 3,000 square feet of all but blank canvas. Great windows, high ceilings, open floor plan — it could be a very interesting home. With some work. “Needs electric/heat/cooling/connection to water & sewer,” the listing says. “Public water/sewer as well as electric and gas available.”

The Methodist church is still up the hill behind the chapel. A cemetery lies between them. The chapel is across Main Street from some railroad tracks. In the aerial view below it has a blue square.

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Zillow listing

Restoration Project of the Week: Dongola House in Yanceyville, “the Most Pretentious Farmhouse of the Piedmont”

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dongola stairs.jpgThe number of grand old houses in Caswell County is amazing, and Dongola House is one of the real gems. “The home is considered the most monumental house in Caswell County and one of the grandest in the Piedmont,” the N.C. State University Library says (Rare and Unique Digital Collections). “Dongola is a two-story, L-shaped brick home, with a tall portico of four Doric columns composed of stuccoed brick.” Multiple internet sources report that some envious person also called it “the most pretentious farmhouse of the Piedmont.”

Dongola stands at 336 W. Main Street in Yanceyville. It’s for sale at an unpretentious $109,000. “Many people believe it will take a fortune to refurbish this palatial home – we have quotes for everything and it will take less than $100K,” Preservation North Carolina says. The organization holds protective covenants on the house. Sadly, there are no current photos of the interior available. There’s a large collection of undated photos on Flickr.

Dongola was built in 1832 by tobacco planter Jeremiah Graves, whose family owned most of what is now Yanceyville. “Tradition has it that he found a name on a map in his Bible showing ‘Dongola’ as a place on the Nile River,” the invaluable Caswell County Historical Society reports. Also known as the Dongola Graves House, it’s a manageable 2,881 square feet on 1.86 acres. I couldn’t find anything listing the number of bedrooms. The county property card says there are four bathrooms, but it also says the house was built in 1965. Dongola now is part of a 15-acre tract owned by an LLC based in Washington state.

“The last of the Graves family to live in the house (Robert Sterling Graves) donated the home and plantation lands to the NC Baptist Association for development into an assisted living facility that served the community well for many years,” the historical society wrote in 2006.

“Since the early 1990’s this property has been owned by various investors in the film industry who have added sound studios that have been used for film production, social events, and a community ministry.” The dream of a film studio in Yanceyville appears to have produced more bankruptcy filings (at least three) than movies (none found on the Internet Movie Database). A more modest dream, like simply restoring one of the Piedmont’s great houses, certainly seems more feasible.

Preservation North Carolina listing

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Photo from the Library of Congress, Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South

Rosemont, 506 W. Hunter Street in Madison: A Grand Old 1911 Mansion, $429,000

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Rockingham County has more than its share of great old houses, and Rosemont in Madison is one of the grandest. The imposing Queen Anne is set well back from a quiet side street on an acre of land at 506 W. Hunter Street. It’s for sale at $429,000.

The 1911 house has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. With 4,800 spacious square feet, Rosemont’s price comes out to a remarkably reasonable $89 per square foot.

The exterior, including the clay-tile roof, could use a little cosmetic work, but the interior is immaculate. A grand porte-cochere stands at the left end of the house, and a large solarium is on the right.  In between are nine fireplaces, hand-laid parquet floors, leaded-glass windows and pocket doors. The property also includes a detached apartment and two-car garage.

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As you might expect, Rosemont’s builder was quite the prosperous fellow. Nathaniel Macon Pickett owned the Madison Building Supply Company and was a co-owner of the first car dealership in town. His collection of more than 300 books was used to establish the first public library in Madison. Pickett was born in 1871 and died at age 58 in 1929. He was originally from Chatham County.

His wife, Cora Johnson Pickett, was born in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1874. She was a school teacher and a charter member of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She outlived her husband by almost 40 years, dying at age 93 in 1968.

Listing for 506 N. Hunter Street, Madison

July 18 Auction: A Davie County Property with Connections to Daniel Boone and other More or Less Historic Figures

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[Update, July 18, 2019: The winning bid was $225,000.]

The property at 239 Arrowhead Road in Davie County has had connections to a few diverse figures in North Carolina history over the last 271 years. It is the subject of an online auction that will end with a live auction Thursday at 6 p.m. at the property. The auction will be live-streamed for online bidders. So far, the bid stands at $170,000. The house can be seen from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The house has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Period features remain. The current owners “meticulously refurbished the home, paying close attention to restoring the interior,” the listing says. Exterior work wasn’t quite as meticulous; the house now has aluminum siding. HVAC wasn’t a high priority, either. The first floor has two heat pumps. The second has window air-conditioners and electric baseboard heat; the third has no heating or cooling.

Some significant facts about the house are reported variously by different sources. The listing shows the size as 2,733 square feet. County records say it has 3,091 square feet heated and an additional 972 unheated. The listing shows the lot size as 5 acres; county records show it as 12 acres.

Varying dates of the house’s origin have arisen as well. County property records show the house as built in 1913, although historical information provided by the sellers suggests it’s about 100 years older. “The home was built in the same era as the Vogler house was built in Old Salem,” it says. The Vogler House was built around 1819.

The property has a Mocksville mailing address, but it’s actually well to the north, close to where Davie, Forsyth and Yadkin counties meet. It looks to be about halfway between Winston-Salem and Mocksville; Bermuda Run, Clemmons, Lewisville and West Bend are all nearby.

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The property includes a barn, a large shed/hangar, an original 1800’s doctor’s office, a gazebo with a repurposed church steeple for a roof, multiple outbuildings and land for an airplane runway (shared with a neighbor, as is a road through the property).

The history of the property, as opposed to the house itself, goes back to 1748, the sellers say. It was part of a 565-acre tract on the Yadkin River granted by Lord Granville to Morgan and Martha Bryan. One of their grand-daughters, Rebecca, married neighbor Daniel Boone in 1756 (the couple lived in Davie County for 10 years before lighting out for the frontier).

In 1840 the property was sold to Dr. John Patillo Clingman, who built the medical office. If the Clingman name is familiar, it’s because of his more prominent brother, Thomas. Nicknamed “Prince of Politcians” (for reasons not obvious), Thomas was a pre-Civil War congressman and U.S. senator and a Confederate general. After the war he measured mountains in western North Carolina; Clingman’s Dome is named for him.

Since the Civil War, when the Union Army occupied the place, history has left the house alone. The current owners bought it in 1980. Davie County’s online records don’t go back that far, so the price is unknown.

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