Where was I going to stay when I visited my friendEleanor in Edenton, North Carolina ? Scanning the listings on Air bnb, I was intrigued by one particular description:
“Renovated 1900s Mill Village House – moved in 1991, one bedroom, plus sitting room with gas fireplace, efficiency kitchen on 100 Acre Farm, two and a half miles from Town. The Guest House is a historic 19th century house next to two historic homes in the midst of several acres of gardens. There is satellite tv when weather permits and wifi in the guest house.”
The owners of the farm were Clem, a semi-retired veterinarian and Suellen, his wife who oversaw the rental. After a short correspondence, I was hooked and arranged to rent the “Mill House” for my stay. At the time the arrangement was made, I had no idea what “moved in 1991″ meant and would learn soon enough.
The Mill House, circa 1900, had been built in the Mill Village surrounding the old Cotton Mill that I was to visit that afternoon. When the Mill closed down, Suellen and Clem bought one of the original houses in the Mill Village — to bring to their farm!
It was “loosened” from its base, carefully placed on the back of a flatbed truck and transported by road from the Mill Village to their farm, where it was re-installed next to the larger home where they presently live. A covered walkway was built to connect the two homes and it now looks as if they belong together. This is “moving a house” — apparently in North Carolina it is not unusual to move one, or lighthouse for that matter, from one location to another by road.
Entering the Mill House, I found it was beautifully furnished and very inviting.
The two rooms were separated by a gas fireplace that could be turned on at night for instant atmosphere and warmth. A portrait of Clem’s late mother was hung prominently in the bedroom as well as family pictures on the walls.
The cottage was furnished in the country French style with carefully chosen antiques peppering the views of the farm from every window. A gun was hanging above the door frame: was it to stop someone coming in and trying to move the house again?!! Entering the kitchen I noticed there was enough food in the fridge and pantry to last at least a week, including homemade cookies, jellies and jams, grits (of course), tea, coffee, cocoa, marshmallows, fresh strawberries and cream — all alongside more than sufficient china, a microwave, cooking utensils and a four-element stove with oven. Going outside, the views were endless, with a long avenue of mature pecan trees that had dropped a heavy layer of pecans onto the mulched earth. Being early spring, the daffodils were just beginning to open.The scene looked familiar… and a printed bio of the family that I found on the table revealed that one of the relatives was Alfred Uhry, who wrote Driving Miss Daisy. I was told “Miss Daisy” was a compilation of two sisters, one of them being Alfred Uhry’s wife and the other was Clem’s late Mother.
The house next to the one I was using for my stay is presently lived in by Suellen and Clem. They kindly invited me in – it had a huge country kitchen, weathered beam ceilings throughout that had at one time been fire damaged, hand painted floors and casual country antiques. Clem’s late mother had moved from Atlanta where she had been a well-known interior designer, and in her later years had refurbished this house for herself — it was design magazine perfect. What is interesting is that this home also had an addition of another home that was brought in by road, doubling the original home’s doubling it in size. The “joinst” where the other “moved” house had been added on were not immediately visible as — Clem’s mother had seamlessly “married” the two buildings together.
But there was a third house, of course. This was just short walk away and was the house that Suellen and Clem had lived in while their family of two daughters were growing up. Although no one is presently living there, it is move-in ready and beautifully furnished in similar style to the other houses.
The entire property, one hundred acres and three homes, is on the market for $1,400,000 – possibly negotiable. This becomes more interesting with the fact that Mill House in which I was staying was sold twenty years ago for $20,000 and is now worth $250,000!
The farm is a ten-minute ride from town and several houses are already built along the way, bringing it “closer” to town. If the increase in value of the Mill House, with no land, is an indication of how prices can appreciate, then one hundred acres of land with three houses, close to town, could possibly be worth upwards of fifteen million dollars in twenty years!
Being so close to town, it is ripe for a new township development and if this happens then it’s potential value is considerably more. Wishful thinking, but I mention it in case anyone has a stash of dollars under their mattress and is looking for a place to invest. You never know !!
Even though I had made the arrangements, this experience was totally unpredictable. There was no way I could know the surprise that was in store for me with this particular Air bnb, and that’s the charm of the best ones. Staying in an original Circa-1900 Mill House, on a farm in the country outside Edenton North Carolina with not one, not two, but three houses — plus welcoming and gracious hosts — will endure as one of my most unique holiday housing experiences.