Published: Jun 29, 2011 10:33 AM
Modified: Jun 29, 2011 10:34 AM
How intimate to think of living in a house that hosted evenings with authors William Faulkner, Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost. What would it be like growing up in such a neighborhood?
Those are the thoughts that must run through the minds of anyone contemplating living on Greenwood Road in Chapel Hill. The neighborhood, across Raleigh Road from the University of North Carolinas flagship campus, has been the home of many authors, including the neighborhoods namesake, Paul Green, who lived at the end of the road. Greenwood Road is so close to UNCs campus that the fit can walk or ride a bicycle up to campus just as many of the neighborhoods original professors and authors did.
James Tippett, a well-known childrens poet in the 1950s, lived just up the road from Dr. A.P. Hudson, a professor of literature from Mississippi who was friends with Faulkner. Across from Tippett was William Meade Prince, noted writer and illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post, Redbook and Colliers, and author of the book, The Southern Part of Heaven.
The Prince home, a true Georgian built in 1941 and situated in the middle of a little more than two acres of flowering trees and shrubs, is offered at $899,000 by Kathy Underhill of Allen Tate Realty.
Underhill grew up catty corner across from the Prince home. Her parents were friends with the Princes.
Because the neighborhood was full of literary folks, musicians and artists, the visitors were pretty amazing, Underhill said.
Her personal memories of seeing Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg, she describes as very much of the little vignette variety. But a more recent event brought back those childhood days.
After my mother passed in 2005 and we were going through the house during the following year, I was stunned to discover an original Sandburg volume inscribed to me as a toddler, Underhill reminisced. So I always knew that these people, and more, had visited various folks on the street. Dr. Hudsons grandson is a dear friend. He remembers his grandfather having Sandburg, Faulkner, Frost and other authors in for visits laden with alcohol, etc. But there were apparently lots of enchanting dinners at 707 Greenwood when the Princes were there.
Not long ago, Underhill visited Alice Faulkner, formerly a Cheek, who bought the house from the Princes. Faulkner is near 89 years old now and living in Charleston, S.C. When Underhill was growing up on Greenwood Road, she says, Alice was one of the neighborhood moms and is still a dear friend.
About 35 years or so ago, Alice Faulkner sold the house to current owners Dr. John and Florence Soltys, who developed the gardens surrounding the stately Georgian home. Underhills daughters have carefree childhood memories of visiting their grandparents and going over to see the Soltys and watching The Sound of Music in the gigantic family room that overlooks some of the gardens.
The English gardens John Soltys put in on the side of the house include lights and a fountain. Underhill says the Soltys would flip a couple of switches in the living room and either enjoy the softly lit gardens from indoors or take their wine glasses out and sit by the fountain in the evening.
At the front of the house, they also created massive rose gardens, which are cared for by Witherspoon Rose Culture of Durham.
The huge, formal living room is always filled with light, thanks to the large windows. It has four sections of built-in shelving, a wood-burning fireplace with an 1820 Boston mantel of cherry wood under the pain. There is also a small built-in closet with a gun rack although no guns are currently in the house. Of note in the living room and throughout the homes public rooms are the various panel mouldings, custom shades and original-to-the-house Colonial Williamsburg hardware.
Through a set of French doors is the site of many elegant dinner parties. The formal dining room has a bay to accommodate a large sideboard. The double crown mouldings, chair rail and deep panels bring a Georgian stateliness to this 13-by-16-foot room that has access to the kitchen through a 4-by-6-foot butlers pantry.
The kitchen is bright and cheerful with access to its own garden area perfect for herbs. The kitchen has an abundance of cabinetry and bookshelves, recessed lighting, a gas cooktop and a built-in pantry. The kitchen leads directly to the family room. There is also a back passage from the dining room to the family room, which has beautiful pecan wood paneling and a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams.
The grand entry is dominated by a circular stairwell, more gorgeous paneling, some of which has hidden storage (at the press of a finger!). There is a basement that can accommodate a teen or college student. And theres ample storage in a fully-floored attic.
To take a tour of the home and grounds at 707 Greenwood Road, log onto www.seetheproperty.com/61349
Sally Keeney can be reached at email@example.com.