North Carolina’s brilliant mid-century Modernist houses are frequently endangered and often torn down, largely because buyers, sellers and realtors often do not realize the importance of how to identify, preserve and protect these livable works of art. You can’t save something if you don’t know where it is and why it is important.
This tour supports NCModernist, an award-winning nonprofit digital archive for owners, students, journalists, researchers, real estate agents, historians, preservationists, architects and architecture fans to protect and preserve the state’s Modernist houses. With documentation on over 5,000 houses, NCModernist is an unrivalled resource for Modernist research and preservation.
3307 Gaston Road is one of Edward Lowenstein’s “Commencement Houses,” the three homes designed by Lowenstein and his students when he taught at the Women’s College (which had become UNCG by the time this one, the third, was built). Two of the houses still stand, and this one in Sedgefield is now for sale at $765,000.
The house is a Mid-Century Modern classic. The entrance hall has a 17-foot high wall of windows. There are large windows throughout the house, an open staircase and minimal ornamentation. At the back, a second-floor deck provides a view of the Sedgefield Country Club golf course. The house sits well back from the street in a forested landscape. The kitchen is modern but maintains its strikingly 1950s look.
Update: The house sold for $205,000 on September 13, 2022.
Kitchens are among the trickiest rooms of historic houses. How do you balance historic character with practicality? Most homeowners are willing to sacrifice character for the benefits of modern lighting, adequate cabinet space and a convenient outlet for the microwave. With Mid-Century Modern, though, a time-capsule kitchen can be both livable and authentic.
Consider 108 Jackson Road in Mount Airy. Joe and Eleanor Powell built their home around 1955. Now, for sale for the first time, it’s in very good condition. The kitchen is beautiful, a trip back into the Age of Turquoise. Undisturbed by nearly 70 years of decorating styles, trends and fads, it’s worth celebrating.
Update: The house sold for $2 million on October 7, 2020.
The Maya Angelou House has had a $1 million-plus makeover since she died in 2014, so it’s quite different from what it was when she lived there. But it was her house for 20 years, so it definitely deserves its name. It’s for sale now at $2.395 million.
Maya Angelou became the third owner of the house in 1994. She had come to Winston-Salem in 1981 as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest. After her death, the house was bought for $500,000 by Shelley and Daryl Bible. The current listing agent told Triad Business Journal that the couple “wanted to stay true to the essence of the home and its legacy, but it needed a lot of renovation.”
Update: The listing was withdrawn December 5, 2019.
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.