UPHA 2013 Homes of the Month
December Home of the Month
The UPHA December Home of the Month is Edmonson House at 2508 Stafford Avenue
Sue and Root Edmondson’s home on Stafford Avenue is decorated for Christmas 2013. Because they have lived there for thirty-eight years, their holiday decorations have gradually evolved, so that this year the décor has reached perfection. In the late 1970s, recalls Sue, the other residents of Stafford Avenue put up modest traditional decorations, usually just a wreath on the front door, sometimes enhanced with white electric candles in the windows. Sue laughs when she recalls her own revolutionary décor. She was the first homeowner on the block to drape lights on her shrubbery—colored lights at that! Not until she switched to white shrubbery lights did she receive any compliments from her neighbors. Colored lights were simply not “traditional.” About ten years ago, when they added a big front porch, their decorations became more elaborate. Now white lights outline the porch railings and the central porch entrance, accented by a red bow. The porch, furnished like an outdoor living room, has many chairs decorated with “Holiday” pillows and textiles. Crystal angels sit on the living room window sills. Because Sue’s birthday is December 26, Christmas is an even bigger holiday for her than for most of us. As a child, her grandmother and mother made a Christmas tree cake for her birthday by baking four or five layers tapering from large to small, decorated with white icing and red hots.
The Edmondsons have been involved in University Park for many years. Root, an attorney, wrote the first set of bylaws for the University Park Homeowners Association. Sue tended the rose garden for six years in the 1980s. Their children Ashley and Justin, now grown, often played in the Rose Garden as children. As the children grew, so did the house, a small one built in the late 1940s. The Edmonsons added a large rear addition, and placed the kitchen in the center of the house, illuminated by skylights, because it was the space where everyone always gathered. Since 2011 Sue has been one of the artists in the Roundabout Art Collective at 305 Oberlin Road. Her painting of an old garden trowel won first prize in a show at the Visual Art Exchange in downtown Raleigh this year. We salute the Edmonson family and their beautiful Christmas décor for their longtime contribution to the character and vitality of University Park.
November Home of the Month
Fincher Home, 623 Tower Street
Renee Fincher moved to Tower Street, next door to the Quaker Meeting House, last year because she wanted to live in downtown Raleigh. She bought a quaint early 1900s one-story frame house with a wide front porch and a peaked gable over the front door. This was one of the most popular house types in Oberlin Village, founded after the Civil War by African Americans who had gained their freedom. When Renee bought it, the house had been a rental. It was hardly visible because of a tall chain link fence with overgrown shrubbery around the front yard and a backyard that she described as such a jungle that you could not see the garden shed. Because she is a gardener, one of the main attractions for her was the big level lot.
Renee’s energy knows no bounds, and she has done most of the landscaping and exterior rehabilitation by herself. One of the first improvements was the removal of the fence. After that, neighbors who walked by her house on the way to Cameron Village could watch her outside day after day, working on the house and yard. She planted grass, replaced rotten weatherboards, and supervised the construction of new porch posts and new wood shingles on the front gable. Renee applied a masonry veneer to the house foundation herself, and had her workman veneer the lower porch posts. Although it looks like stone, it is actually a very believable concrete imitation. Her next challenge was to select the right paint color for the walls. She bought pints of many different colors and painted patches of paint all over the front wall. Neighbors who walked by would vote on which color they liked best. “I‘ve met more neighbors in four months in the Oberlin community than I did in four years living in Cary,” Renee commented. She finally decided on the soft green that you see in the “after” photograph.
During the summer Renee shared her bounty of tomatoes and green onions with the whole neighborhood. She put a wooden box on the front porch marked with a “FREE” sign, and posted on the University Park list/serve inviting people to come and get her bounty. Another recent project is chickens. She has a Rhode Island Red and two Silkys living in a chicken coop that she built out of scraps. “It’s the first thing that I’ve ever built,” exclaimed Renee. Keeping the chickens alive is a work in progress. After losing a number of them to a fox, she has learned to lock them in their coop at night. Recently a hawk sailed down to grab a chicken, but luckily she had installed a chicken wire “ceiling” over the chicken’s yard and he ran into the wire. There’s no rooster, and the chickens peck quietly behind her fence while most neighbors are oblivious to their existence. Renee promises that next spring she will share her eggs with the neighborhood. The Oberlin end of University Park is very happy to welcome Renee into the neighborhood.
October Home of the Month
The Readling House
I started renting the little 816 square foot house that once stood at 2407 Van Dyke back in 1997 from the original owner, Dollie Warren. It had been a rental property for 47 years and was showing major wear and tear. When my husband, Greg, and I purchased it in 2005, we knew we would eventually tear it down and rebuild. We both loved the neighborhood and were looking forward to eventually building our dream house here.
We love bungalows, especially the old Sears Roebuck Kit Homes, and worked closely with architect, Michael Booth, who helped us design a house with many of those features. My husband went and got his contracting license and acted as our general contractor throughout the project. Although we hired out some of the work such as framing, electrical and plumbing, Greg and I did much of the work ourselves and on a shoestring budget, no less. We were fortunate to have resources such as Greg’s family sawmill which allowed us to mill our own wood. We reused old slate from an orphanage in Charlotte for our roof and visited many architectural salvage stores for lights, sinks and tubs. We were also able to rent the house next door while we built, so we never had to leave the neighborhood. The whole project took a year and a half and we were finally able to move in to the new house in August 2008.
We did keep a blog for friends and family to follow our progress. Feel free to take a look. I still look at it from time to time and am slightly overwhelmed by all the work we did. Totally worth it though because we know this is our forever home.
September Home of the Month
The Kerri Hall Home
On May 15, 1945 our home at 3014 Mayview was purchased by William D. Moxley and Wife from JJ Fallon, just 7 days after the German Surrender in World War II.
It was owned by the Moxley family until I bought it in January of 2012 from William D. Moxley, Jr. There is an interesting website about property JJ Fallon developed in Raleigh called the Hi-Mount Historic District – One of Raleigh’s Best-Preserved Speculative Neighborhoods (http://www.rhdc.org/hi-mount-historic-district). The descriptions of houses built for that development are similar to our house. Many of the houses on the 3000 block of Mayview have JJ Fallon’s name on the original deed.
I watched the house for over a year. It was the perfect size and location for my daughter and me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a full-time job yet, so I couldn’t make an offer. Twice it was under contract. In December of 2011, I started working full-time. About a week into the job I thought, “I wonder what is up with that house.”
I called my realtor, Peter Rumsey. Anticipating a full-time job would come sooner than later, we explored housing options for a year. The “Mayview House” as we referred to it was back on the market. We quickly put together an offer. It was on the low side.
Having lived in Oakwood, I knew the challenges of old houses and priced the cost of resolving them for this house. Included in an email to my realtor were these words, “He can rest assured I am buying this house to make a home. My daughter starts kindergarten in the fall and I want her to attend Fred Olds. (He may have attended himself.)”
A counter offer was given. It was something I could afford. I learned Mr. Moxley did attend Olds Elementary and had fond memories from there.
The house was rock solid but the hvac, plumbing and electrical needed to be replaced. The backyard was overgrown. There was an oil tank in the yard, a cracked oil furnace in the basement, and asbestos in the cinder block closet. I’m a librarian, so I researched everything. During that time, Google offended me. They had me pegged as a 40-year-old man.
Luckily, the interior of the house was filled with original architectural details . . .hardwood floors, two built in corner china cabinets with glass doors in the dining room, arched doorways and a built in desk and bookshelf in what is now my daughter’s room. They all remain the same.
Everyone was curious about the cinder block closet in the house and shared their theory on the original purpose of the closet. The final conclusion is a coal furnace was housed in this room. However, when I purchased the house, the room contained a small apartment-sized washer/dryer combo and a vacuum cleaner. As I explored options for the space, someone suggested I make it a powder room/laundry room. The only bathroom in the house is between the two bedrooms, resulting in visitors going through one of our rooms.
Thomas Barnes of TM Barnes Home Innovation designed and built an amazing space. In a 4.5′ by 5.25′ space, he created an elegant powder room and efficient laundry room. The cinder block walls are covered with wainscoting painted a pale turquoise. There’s a solar tube that radiates light during the day. The corner sink is tiny and in perfect proportion to the room.
I call it the James Bond room. There’s a clothes rack to dry clothes. It pulls out of the wall when needed. That wall is removable. It had to be; there wasn’t another way to get the washer and drawer inside the space.
Thomas found some interesting things in the walls and attic. A yard stick for a furniture store on 110 West Hargett Street with a 3-digit phone number (the address no longer exists). In the attic, there was . . .a newspaper about Raleigh service men in World War II. . . a leather folder filled with congratulations notes and cards on the 1972 retirement of Mr. Moxley, Sr. . . . a snake skin. I saw a black racer in the backyard of the house the spring before I purchased it. I admit it. I was stalking this house. I’m pretty certain where that snake hibernated over the winter.
I need to get in touch with Mr. William Moxley, Jr. so I can return the leather binder. Also, I want to thank him for allowing us to join such a wonderful community. If you know him, I would love his contact information. I am curious about a lot of things, especially the first name of “Wife” on the original deed.
August Home of the Month
2503 Van Dyke Avenue
Our family – the Link family – has lived in two different houses on Van Dyke Avenue since we moved here in 2006. Prior to that, we’d lived in various parts of North Raleigh and Apex. Since moving into Raleigh, we do more walking and less commuting, and we’ve really learned to appreciate our neighbors and neighborhood. We have a fifth-grader at Olds Elementary, and a three-year-old who will be there soon; needless to say, we hope to be here for years to come.
The original house at 2503 Van Dyke was built in 1945 by Mr. and Mrs. Snakenburg and purchased by the Jones Family in 1969. When the Jones put their home up for sale in 2007, we were living next door (and in the process of making tentative plans to renovate our own home there). In the end, we chose to build our (mostly) new home at 2503 and make the long move to the address next door. We completed construction and moved in during December 2008.
It took us about eight months to figure out what we wanted to do with the property before construction started. Although the house had been sold as a “tear down,” it was important to us to at least consider ways that we might save or re-use features or materials from the original house. We hired Rich Trumper from Mid Carolina Contracting Inc. to help us through that process. Instead of a complete demolition, we chose to deconstruct the existing house, board by board, and keep most of the existing foundation to build upon. We discarded rotten timbers and ruined windows but saved lots of the original lumber, much of which we were able to incorporate into the new construction. (We were amazed at the high quality of lumber that had been milled in 1945!) Materials that we chose not to re-use – doors, fixtures, even furniture – were reclaimed curbside by neighbors or donated for re-use. Once our engineers helped us figure out how to re-use most of the original foundation, we supplemented that with an addition that added about 1/3 to the size to the original footprint. (Interestingly, although the vast majority of our house is new construction, the city considers our home a renovation and addition.)
Building new from the foundation up gave us the opportunity to build an energy efficient home with practical “green” features. Making this happen required a diligent contractor and input from many of our subcontractors, including our plumbers, HVAC installers, framers, and electricians. Rich also brought in Southern Energy Management to advise us before and during construction and to inspect and certify our home later on. We framed with 6-inch exterior walls, used blown in insulation to seal and insulate hidden spaces, and installed high-end energy efficient windows to achieve the highest R-value possible. Throughout much of the house we installed LED down-lighting manufactured by Cree, Inc. (a local company in Durham). Our plumber installed dual flush toilets and helped us to plan and build a 750-gallon rainwater cistern under the front porch (plumbed and pressurized with exterior hose bibs) and a 250-gallon water barrel at the top of the property (gravity powered). Although we’re still learning how to become more efficient, these improvements have helped us to lower our utility usage significantly. At the end of construction, our home earned an Energy Star rating with a “HERS Index” of 65 (meaning the house is 35% more energy efficient than a “standard” home).
Of course, our home is always a work-in-progress. We do lots of the landscaping projects ourselves, and we’re still trying to figure out much of it through trial and error. In 2012, we brought in Ken Brooks, owner of Brookscapes – a local company right here in University Park – to help us design and re-work our backyard: what was once a muddy slope is now a beautiful play area for the kids and adults. We still have lots of work to do on the property, but we look forward to spending many years here in this wonderful neighborhood.
July Home of the Month
The Euvino Home
When we moved up to Raleigh, we weren’t sure where we wanted to live so we agreed to move into one of the rental apartments “for a maximum of 2 years.” This took the “pressure” off and allowed us to do a lot of traveling from here in search for our new retirement home.
Although we visited many beautiful places on the East coast and in the mountains over a period of years, they all lacked the totality of what the University Park location in Raleigh offered us as far as a residential neighborhood with convenience to shopping, entertainment, education and yet very accessible to beach and mountains. We never actually made the decision to stay in Raleigh, but in this situation, “no decision” was the best decision of all.
Since living here, it has been an ongoing work in progress. Most of the changes inside of this 1940’s house include upgraded kitchen, new windows, roof and HVAC system and many cosmetic features. The front yard was graded and a retaining wall added along the walkway on the side of the house to prevent the constant run off every time it rained. But my biggest challenge was the very shady front yard.
Every fall the soil got tilled and the grass got planted but once the summer rolled around all efforts to have a lush green lawn ended in disappointment due to the tall shady Japanese Maples that umbrella the yard.
This futile effort with nature went on for several years and although somewhat reluctant, my last attempt to have best of both worlds was to plant Mondo grass. Not only did this work out exceptionally well; I finally have a beautiful lush green lawn. It has also eliminated the regular maintenance of mowing the lawn.
Now that this major issue has been resolved, I will move forward more confidently and expand on this total design because I couldn’t be happier with the look of this little park setting!
June Home of the Month
509 Gardner Street
Our home was originally built in 1938 and was owned by the Winkler family until 1998 when we purchased it. The Winkler family modified the house several times, converting a small side porch and the garage into bedrooms as their family grew. When we moved in, we began to make our own changes to the home, particularly to enlarge and modernize the kitchen.
Our back yard originally sloped down close to the house, with a retaining wall along the carport and back of the kitchen. Because of the steep grade, we couldn’t enjoy the back yard and because the retaining wall was so close to the house, it was impossible to walk all the way around. We wanted more of an open back yard with more usable space and better flow from the back door of the house. To achieve this, we contracted a significant grading project in 2008 to push the slope back, with resulting retaining walls.
When the project was finished we had the space we wanted, but we felt that the yard looked stark and uninviting. We needed to soften the look and create a cozier atmosphere. So we began a long process of building up a backyard garden, which has now become something of a hobby. We have tried to use native species as much as possible, but with a few non-natives as well to provide color in the heat of summer. We have also tried to create something of a wildlife habitat for birds with seasonal flowers and berries. Overall, we are very pleased with the result, though it is always a work in progress. Our house and garden are still very much works in progress – we hope that you see more beautiful developments to come.
May Home of the Month
2711 Barmettler Street
The house was originally constructed as a 1100 sq. foot brick bungalow in 1940 by Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Jordan, and was home to two more families: the Economys in the 40s and 50s, then the Wardlaws from the 60’s through the end of the century.
In 2001, having undergone some cosmetic changes, including a coat of exterior white paint, it was purchased by Tom Mills and served as his bachelor pad and band practice space.
In 2007, Tom and Michelle Williams got married and expanded the house to accommodate their growing family, using the existing foundation and first floor. Today, the active household is again teeming with visitors, music, and general silliness.
April Home of the Month
3 Henderson Street
Stephanie Gootnick and her daughter moved to Raleigh in 2006. Here is their story about how they found their house and the very interesting history of the house at 3 Henderson Street.
After moving to Raleigh from Florida, we lived in a rental house on Brooks Avenue for nearly two years, My daughter was attending Fred Olds Elementary, but we had almost given up hope of finding a home we could buy when we came upon 3 Henderson Street very early one Monday morning in January of 2008. George Huntley, our beloved realtor, was willing to meet us before school that day. My daughter ran through the big open rooms and said to me, “Mommy – THIS is the house!” We put an offer in that morning and the rest is history.”
3 Henderson Street, a brick side gable home built circa 1924-1928, is part of the West Raleigh Historic District, and is officially listed as the “William O. and Elizabeth Honeycutt House” on the National Register of Historical Places. Dr. Harry E. Cooper, esteemed former chair of the music department at Meredith College and founder of the North Carolina Music Chorale, resided in the house with his wife and children for 50 years from 1943 until 1993. In 1994 there was a foundational renovation to the house, when central air and heat was installed. While the house remains in its original structure today, the house was in neglected shape when the Gootnick family purchased it in 2008. Termites had destroyed the window frames, water was entering the house through settled sills and uneven landscape, and a 15-foot wide swath of brush obscured a view of the nearest neighbor’s home. All the floors except for the living and dining room areas were rotting away, 75 years of wallpaper were peeling off the walls, the driveway was dirt and gravel, and a 40 year-old roof was leaking. But, an engineering inspection revealed that the bones of the house were solid. The curb appeal was undeniable.
Rather than tear down this historic Tudor home and rebuild, the Gootnicks decided to retro-fit the home both structurally and aesthetically to preserve the charming 3-bedroom bungalow, while reducing the home’s carbon footprint in the process. Over a period of four months, the brush was cleared, the fence was repaired, landscaping and drought-resistant emerald zoysia sod was installed, masonry work corrected the sills, and 25 low-E windows were installed. 0-VOC paint refreshed the entire house, bamboo and teak floors were installed in the kitchen and bedrooms, original bathroom tiles were lovingly re-glazed, CFL lighting was installed throughout the house, recycled truck tire flooring was installed in the basement, cyanide-free countertops and particle board-free cabinets were installed in the kitchen, and low-flow toilets and sinks replaced the original fixtures. Energy-efficient appliances were also brought in. Water from the property was re-routed through an underground piping system to the street to create a more efficient flow of ground water and to eliminate the risk of water damage to the foundation of the house. Finally, rainwater collection barrels were installed to support irrigation in the outdoor flower beds.
Filled with the laughter of all ages and nearly 100 years of memories, 3 Henderson Street provides a cozy and inviting environment for all who enter.
March Home of the Month
Grey and Meg Powell House
3307 Clark Avenue
Parquet flooring, entrance foyer
Grey and Meg Powell’s nearly-new house on Clark Avenue is the March Home of the Month. Meg’s following story explains how the Powell family came to call University Park home.
We decided to move from North Raleigh to University Park to be closer to immediate family and in a better area for our three young children (now 5, 8 and 10), with good schools, and other families with children. Grey grew up in the house next door and his mother, Mary Ann Brittain, and step-father Bill, subdivided the five lot yard and gave us the other half to build a house. Mary Ann said people contacted her in the past trying to buy the land, but she refused. She often told us about the wonderful neighbors, the children, Fred Olds and events in the neighborhood, convincing us that this was the place to be. She was right! We love living beside family. People often ask me how I love living so close to my in-laws and I always tell them that I love it! We couldn’t be more fortunate and it is a perfect fit! Mary Ann enjoys walking to school with us in the mornings with her dog, Meme, and being able to take the kids easily to the museums or other places. We love being beside them. The children run over to play cards with their grandpa or play violin with their grandma. It’s great being so close.
The lot is narrow, with a steep hill, so we built on the back of the lot and it had to be tall and skinny rather than wide. It took a long time to figure out a good floor plan for our needs. Grey is an attorney, and while often downtown in the courthouse, he does some work from home as well. I work for AuPairCare and am able to work from home, to also be here with the children. So we spend a lot of time at home. After searching existing floor plans for months, we had Thomas Betts, on Clark Avenue, a family friend and architect, design the house. We wanted an open floor plan for the den/kitchen/dining area, but also wanted a downstairs bedroom/full bath and half bath for guests or when we can no longer climb the stairs, and two office areas (one on the main level and Grey uses the walk-out basement.) There are four bedrooms and three baths upstairs. We built a full basement for Grey’s office, storage and extra space for future needs as you can’t go back and add those later, although that is unfinished space for now. We ended up finishing the unfinished attic for a playroom for the kids after moving in as we quickly found that they needed it. We may add a porch at another time.
Grey’s father’s relatives live in Pennsylvania and make hardwood floors on their farm. They came and lived here a few weeks and put in custom hardwoods. People probablhy remember seeing their RV for a while out front. Some people said they thought we gave up on the project and were just living in the RV. It took us a long time to build the house, from finding the floor plan to some family health problems, and birth of the baby. We finally moved in on July 4, 2010, selling our North Raleigh house luckily on June 28.
We love the neighbors, Fred Olds, the parks, the social events, and the area. We love walking to school and now avoid driving up and down the roads to North Raleigh if possible. It’s great to stay in our little community within a community.
February Home of the Month
The Guy House on 2415 Van Dyke
After her first year of college at NC State, Catherine started looking for a place off campus to live with her roommate Janna that would be convenient to campus. After looking for a place to rent she stumbled on this cute house that was badly in need of work. Catherine approached her mother and I to see if we would consider purchasing the house and renovating it instead of tearing it down. Once her mother and I took a look at the house we saw that it was in a great neighborhood convenient to campus and area shopping. We knew it would take a lot of work but we saw the potential in the house and wanted to maintain its character consistent with the neighborhood.
Our first problem was to deal with the structural damage to the water damaged porch. Because of the slope to the lot we first had to divert the water away from the house in the rear with a retaining wall that would also make room for the addition. It was our decision to tear off the porch and add a family room, dining area and third bedroom to increase the square footage and value of the house. We also added an additional bath and laundry area. We decided to keep the original hard wood floors by refinishing them to their original state. We were very fortunate, being from out of town to find Joe Fiore a local builder to oversee and complete all aspects of our renovation. We took an unusable back yard and turned it into a great outdoor living space that they can now enjoy and share with their dogs. One of the challenges in any renovation is to try to keep it consistent with the original design of the house and area. We are pleased with how the overall project came out providing a quality living space in a great neighborhood that is convenient to everything.
Back before addition….
Back after addition….
January Home of the Month
Home for the Holidays!
At the corner of Van Dyke Avenue and Parker Street stands an aging one-story brick four-plex built in 1952. By 2012 the old building had seen better days. The former owners, who inherited the quad from their father, lived in scattered locations and were not able to manage and maintain the building well. Brad and David Harvey purchased the apartment complex in 2012. The large parcel may have tempted them to demolish the apartments and redevelop the property with single family houses, but the brothers decided instead to preserve the building and refurbish the apartments. Brad explains that he and his brother “saw an opportunity in this building to turn it around and provide nice apartments in a wonderful neighborhood. We enjoy providing good homes to young professionals. We wouldn’t offer a home for rent that we wouldn’t want to live in ourselves.”
The Harveys did a complete rehabilitation from September to early November. They tore out the old kitchens and installed new ones, replaced all the windows, replaced the HVAC system and put in central air conditioning, redid the wiring and plumbing, rebuilt the roof, painted inside and out, and re-landscaped the property. The brothers even replaced the metal railings at the front stoops. The renovated building now projects a happy appearance to the neighborhood and provides housing for four new families.
Merissa Gremminger and Luke Smith are one of the new households. Merissa works at Research Triangle Institute and Luke rides his bike over to NC State University, where he is getting his Ph.D. in statistics. They were thrilled to find the apartment in November. Besides the great location, they love the friendliness of the neighborhood. When their cat Biscuit went missing, they put up notices and neighbors called to help. Biscuit finally reappeared in December after twenty-two days.
UPHA celebrates the Harvey apartments on Van Dyke Avenue as the Homes of the Month for January 2013. The renovation of these apartments helps to preserves the heritage of University Park as a diversified community of owner-occupied and rental homes. We welcome the new tenants of 2300-2306 Van Dyke Avenue to the neighborhood.