Published: Nov 14, 2011 10:03 AM
Modified: Nov 14, 2011 10:04 AM
History on display
Mebane Harvest House Tour features seven homes
From a pre-Civil War log cabin to a romantic, brick Georgian/Greek revival, the doors are open to seven historic homes today in Mebane,which straddles the Orange and Alamance county lines. Joe Rice, and his wife, Avis, will be two of seven homeowners opening their historic places to the public today as part of the Harvest House Tour to benefit the Mebane Historical Museum. The Rice family log cabin has been in the family since 1869, when John Elkins Pettigrew, Joe Rices great-grandfather, sold the property to his son-in-law, Robert K. Rice. Leroy Rice, Joes father, acquired it in 1927, and in 1969 Joe and Avis bought it. They remodeled it to National Register of Historic Places specifications in 1987, and they have operated it as a successful bed and breakfast since 1989. It is a perfect place for a family reunion or small wedding, Avis said. Elon University, Duke Energy, and other businesses use it regularly for retreats and staff meetings, as do hunters and parents of local college students, Rice said.Buck Brannaman, the real horse whisperer, stayed here for a week while giving a horse training clinic in Chapel Hill, Rice said. Its the perfect spot for someone who wants to be close to nature.Another must-see place on the tour is the Griffis-Patton house, built between 1825 and 1835 in a Georgian/Greek Revival style for William and Sarah Horn Griffis. The house is notable for its use of brick, which was not widely used at that time. The home was purchased in 1913 by Lonny and Mary Bason Patton and now sits on a beautifully manicured lawn with wrought iron fence.Then theres the Melville, a Federalist style plantation home named after a famous Presbyterian minister and built in 1848 by Henderson Scott for his wife, Margaret Graham Kerr. Its location made it the perfect place for use as a bed and breakfast for the Alexander Wilson School. After Scotts death in 1870, the house passed to his son, Robert Walker Scott, who was the father of 14 children, including Governor W. Kerr Scott, North Carolina Senator Ralph Scott, Dr. Floyd Scott and Mrs. Elizabeth Carrington. The house stayed in the Scott family until 2007. The original post and beam oak construction of this house can be seen in the attic, although the original clapboard siding has been covered with foam sheet insulation and vinyl siding. In 1995, Dr. Charles Scott remodeled the house and old windows were replaced with new insulating double-pane windows. The plaster ceilings and walls were covered by double-layer reflective foil and covered with sheet rock. A high-energy efficient HVAC system was installed.The yard has an extensive irrigation system supplied by two wells. The 150-year-old magnolias and pecan trees tower over dogwoods, live oaks, crape myrtles and a boxwood hedge that once marked the path for carriages. The land also contains May cherry, apple and pear trees. It was once part of a large farm complex called Burnt Shop.For the lover of Victorian architecture, there is a Folk Victorian with Queen Anne Victorian touches on the gables and portico. Known as the Dillard house, the home was built in 1902 and was the first in Mebane to have running water. The original water storage tank is still in the attic.Bonus structures on the tour include two currently maintained by the Hawfields Historical Preservation Committee and Hawfields Presbyterian Church: an old Turner Road Post Office and an 1870 school house whose chimney includes a stone from President Thomas Jeffersons home, Monticello. Another interesting home on the tour is an Aladdin Kit home, which predated the Sears kit homes so popular from 1908 to 1940. The Aladdin home in Mebane was built in 1920 from a design found in a 1917 Aladdin Homes catalog. The home had additions in 1950 and a total renovation in 2006, which included the addition of a master bedroom, kitchen, bath and laundry room to the back of the house.Another kit house on the tour was also built in 1920 and has had so few owners that the home has retained most of its original layout. Delivered by freight train to the local depot, these kit homes would be hauled to the home site where a waiting foundation would make it possible for the house to be move-in ready a few months later. The train depot was integral to the development of Mebane as were the furniture, textile and tobacco industries that relied on the iron horse to export goods to the world. A large photo of a freight train pulling away from the Mebane depot and headed toward the Panama Canal is on display in the Mebane Historical Museum. It accompanies salutes to the tobacco, furniture, textile industries and Southern Railways impact on the citys commercial and cultural growth. Harvest Home Tour goers will enjoy seeing the museum as they pick up their tickets before taking the self-guided home tour. The Museum will open at 1 p.m. today and close at 5 p.m. when the tour ends. For more information, call 919.563.5054 or visit mebanehistoricalsociety.org.
Sally Keeney can be reached at email@example.com or 919-932-0879.