Author Anna Hayes has, in many ways, led a lucky-girl life. Trained as an attorney, she has been an avid traveler. After college, the North Carolina native lived in many places, including San Francisco, Mexico, Guatemala and France.
When she decided to come home in the late 1980s, she was looking for a place in the country.
I was lucky enough to find this 40-acre property perfectly situated about halfway between Hillsborough and Chapel Hill, Hayes said.
The rural community she found has a quirky moniker Frog Level. Long home to horse and dairy farms, the rural community of Frog Level now also includes people working for local universities and businesses in Research Triangle Park, Raleigh, Durham and Greensboro.
Hayess property is located on Arthur Minnis Road and, like the surrounding farms, has rolling meadows and mature forests. It is also an easy shot to I-40, which makes the commute to Raleigh, or Greensboro for that matter, an easily feasible option.
And, oh, how sweet it is to come home to this lovely place.
The description Hayes gave to architect Jon Condoret in 1987 when she was ready to build a home was: I want something that looks like North Carolina on the outside but California on the inside.
She says Condoret, who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at the LEcole Speciale dArchitecture in Paris in 1959, understood exactly what she meant.
Condoret, who was in his mid-50s when he designed the house for Hayes, came to North Carolina from his native Algeria in 1962 to work for architect Archie Royal Davis, who designed many buildings in Durham and Orange counties, including the Carolina Inn and Morehead Planetarium.
Condoret went on to work with architects Louis Summer Winn Jr. and Donald Eugene Stewart before opening his own practice. He designed many private homes in the modern style in Orange and Chatham counties, and was senior designer for Fearrington Village. For more examples of his work, including the house he designed for Hayes, log onto www.trianglemodernisthouses.com/condoret.htm
For 22 years Hayes divided her time between an apartment in Paris and this peaceful place Condoret designed for her in Frog Level.
Hayes says that Condorets creativity and practical-mindedness added enormously to the way the house functions.
Hardly a day went by that I didnt mentally thank him for some thoughtful touch that made my life easier or more pleasant, Hayes said. Great storage, wide doorways, the way the space flows, and the plentiful natural light are just a few examples.
The house and adjacent guest apartment total 4,448 square feet of heated space. There are three bedrooms in the main house and one in the apartment, which also has a living room, dining room, kitchen, and screened porch for guests to enjoy.
The main house has a great room and a living room and is surrounded by a covered wrap-around porch that offers great views of the surrounding farmland. There is also a patio and screened porch all of which combine to make entertaining easy.
Although the house has the soaring ceilings and large rooms of a modern California-style house, many of the materials that builder Bill Phillips used keep it true to its Southern exterior.
Phillips and Hayes found 100-year-old heart pine flooring, old doors and even retrieved a leaded-glass fan window from the old OHenry Hotel in Greensboro to grace the Frog Level living room. The windows overlooking the kitchen and breezeway are from the old Chapel Hill Post Office on Franklin Street.
Hayes describes Phillips, who no longer builds homes, as meticulous and conscientious.
Bill always went the extra mile, Hayes said. After graduating from Duke, he had been a violin maker for awhile, and I always say that the house was built like a violin.
In addition to the old wood used in creating the staircase and fireplace mantel, the house has Western red cedar rafters with exposed ends; custom-made, eight-light exterior doors; steel-reinforced footings and triple-stacked structural steel over the bedroom area which allows for open, airy spaces.
Hayes says that if she had to pick a favorite room in the house, it would be the combined kitchen-living area, which has a big fireplace on one end and opens onto a screened porch.
My true favorite room, however, would have to be the huge wrap-around porch, Hayes said. Sitting on the porch and contemplating the meadow will cure most anything that ails you.
Hayes now spends much of her time in town.
I miss that view and the house that I enjoyed, not to mention my wonderful country neighbors, Hayes said. Its a special house in a special spot. But it was time for me to simplify my life a bit and move into town, which has a different set of pleasures.
Children living in Frog Level would attend Orange County Schools: Grady Brown Elementary, A.L. Stanback Middle School and Cedar Ridge High School.
To see more photos or take a video tour of this $1,735,000 property, which can be subdivided, go to
For more information about the house or a private showing, call Franklin Street Realtys Beth Louden at 919-619-0973.
Sally Keeney can be reached at email@example.com
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