Published: Nov 30, 2012 12:22 PM
Modified: Nov 30, 2012 12:23 PM
Culp: The style of the house is vaguely Edwardian. It may indicate the way the house is laid out tall ceilings and very tall windows. The windows are 6 feet tall, and unfortunately theyre still single-glazed.
It was built in 1912. Most of the 20th century, its been owned by just two families. One person was a rather prominent name in Hillsborough, William Cates. The property was part of this large farm owned by Billy Strayhorns family. Job and Lizzie Strayhorn were the owners of the property. Their house was up towards King Street. Mr. Cates sold it in 1919. It was bought by the Reeves family, and three generations of the Reeves family lived in it until 1994. The people that I bought it from were Eric and Lauren Hodge. Eric is the morning voice of WUNC.
It was a wood-framed house, and it was clad and bricked in the early 1930s. So if you look in the walls, the original wood siding is still there and the brick is on the outside.
Margaret Lane Cemetery is directly across the street, so I have this wonderful vista out in the front. Its like this giant front lawn practically, and its never going to be built upon.
How I Chose My House
Culp: I really fell in love with it when I walked in the front door the spaces, the high ceilings. Im from Charleston, S.C., and the house we grew up in my sisters and I was an old Charleston house built in the 18th century. That feeling of spaciousness, even though some of the rooms are very small, was immediately attractive to me. It was a good place to put this old furniture that I had, but it also needed some work. I, for probably 40 years, have kept a little file called My Dream House. I just threw in various little things that I would like to have in my own house when I finally got to a place to really put down roots. That allowed me to take out this file with the architect, Frederick Stewart, who is well known locally as somebody who appreciates old houses and can work in their framework to modernize them or to marry old with new. We really hit it off very well because one of the architects whose work I really like was this Australian named Glenn Murcutt. I really liked his ideas about a house fitting into the landscape its part of and his use of materials sort of a classical modernist. It turns out that Fred had spent several weeks visiting this architect in Australia. Fred took these vague ideas that I had, and this is what came out of it. It was literally my dream house.
Culp: The biggest advantage is Hillsborough itself. Hillsborough is a fantastic place to live. It really is a walkable town. It takes a few minutes to walk down Margaret Lane to the center of town, where theres a wonderful grocery, a wine store, and a library, and shops, art galleries and museum. The ambience of Hillsborough is very nice, very welcoming. Its very public spirited. I just came from the birthday celebration of Purple Crow bookstore. A small town like this to have an independent bookstore is an incredible luxury they also have the chocolate shop too. I find it very fortunate to be involved in a community which is growing and developing in a good way.
Culp: [Under breath:] Oh, I wish there were a good baker in town. The thing is that Im spoiled. My friend in a little village near Paris lives across the street from a wonderful boulanger. You get these magnificent croissants. But I really cant think of any disadvantages.
Culp: Very nice people, very interesting mix too young families, retired people, professionals. Theres a new chat group called the North Hillsborough Neighborhood or something. Its a very interactive group. Ive found it to be just gratifyingly friendly, gratifyingly easy. A lot of times, you go into a neighborhood and youre in your sort of cocoon. But thats not the case here at all. Its a very supportive feeling. For instance, somebody broke into the back of the bookstore. It was reported on this little group. It felt like a violation. As a group, we petitioned the police to increase their presence and reinforced how important it was to have a bookstore in town. I suggested starting a book a month club: Everybody buy one book a month from the bookstore. So its a very supportive community in many ways.
How I Made My House a Home
Culp: Just the little touches that I was able to bring from where I lived before all the way back from when I was a child. For instance these little pieces of furniture that Ive carried around with me the card catalog, the desk in the library and some of the other pieces of furniture that Ive always considered my little microclimate. It was great to finally be in a place where they could fit. Finally a feeling of rootedness I suppose. This chandelier [in the dining room] I brought back over from France very, very delicately. This old sofa [in the parlor] I inherited from my grandmother from the mid-19th century as well as this secretary. It has the original bill of sale in it for $18.36.
The renovation was the big thing finally being able to realize a lot of things you had only dreamed about doing. I really redid significantly in the front. I wanted a very formal front to balance the very freeform back. It reflects the very formal gardens I grew up with in Charleston. This [addition] is the master stroke of the architect. Everybody gravitates back here. The side two-thirds of this room are floating. We designed this to be supported on the middle section with steel beams. We did this to preserve this big pecan tree. Some renovations are nightmares. This was a wonderful experience. John Shoneman with Dovetail Construction is an unusual general contractor in that hes a master carpenter too. So he was always on site. There were no pauses, no hitches, no anything.
And thank goodness its not all done yet. There are still some things to do, hobbies and gardening.
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