Academy Hill residents planning benefit tour of historic homes
BY HALEY JONES
Friends and neighbors of a Statesville man who was critically injured in a cycling accident have organized a tour of several historic Statesville homes in an effort to help his family through this difficult time.
Barry Whitesides, 47, who works in the Iredell County Planning Department, suffered life-threatening injuries on Sept. 26 when a deer ran into his bike during a ride with friends.
Whitesides and his wife own a home in the Academy Hill Historic District of Statesville. They have been working to preserve the home. Whitesides also serves as vice chairman of the Statesville Historic Preservation Commission.
Influenced by his dedication to the preservation of history, friends and neighbors have organized the Academy Hill Historic Holiday Tour, which is scheduled for Dec. 2. All proceeds will go directly to Whitesides and his family. Only the cost of necessary permits will be deducted from the proceeds.
The Academy Hill Historic Holiday Tour will include homes built between 1876 to 1917, many of which are in various stages of renovation. All of the homes are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Similar tours were hosted by Preservation Statesville until 2012, when they ceased due to a lack of public interest.
Statesville Historic Preservation Commission member Kim Siegrist is one of the organizers.
“Barry is a huge advocate for historic properties and has taught me a great deal,” Siegrist explained.
She recalled a conversation she had with Bonita Eisele, a former City Council member and fellow historic home owner. “We wanted to do something to help Barry and his family. With the holiday season coming up, this just seemed like the right thing to do,” she said.
Those involved with planning the tour live near Whitesides’ residence and feel that it was appropriate to highlight all of the positive changes occurring in the Academy Hill Historic District.
“I am so glad I was able to get these families to participate,” said Siegrist, who owns the historic J.C. Steele House along with her husband Roger. Not long ago, the three homes on Siegrist’s block were abandoned and run-down.
“That would have been a significant loss to our history and community. But instead the owners are doing it right and have really committed to preserving these properties. Barry has helped all of us as we started out with (his) advice.”
Siegrist hopes that the tours rekindle interest in the historic properties and that Preservation Statesville takes a renewed interest in planning such tours in the future.
“Either way, we will carry on and select a charity each year that can benefit from a bit of support,” said Siegrist.
Local photographers will also be on site during the tour for holiday portraits, for a small fee. The tour is also currently collecting items for a silent auction and raffle. These funds will additionally benefit Whitesides.
Homes on the Academy Hill Historic Holiday Tour include:
• 624 S. Mulberry Street, Statesville; The J.C. Steele House: Home built by the founder of JC Steele and Son. J.C. Steele built this home in 1876 while owning a lumber yard. Thus, the home is of wood construction. While this home was in serious disrepair, Kim and Roger Siegrist purchased it in November of 2016 and have invested time and energy into its renovation. The home is incomplete but the vision is for the property to be converted into a Bed and Breakfast/Event Venue upon completion. The gardens have been extensively renovated, and the home includes a wine garden and gazebo. Extensive plaster repair have been completed; new plumbing and electrical foundation have been put in place. Renovations of bathroom and kitchen are still underway. The plaster work of the main foyer will begin soon. All pathways around the house have been refurbished with tumbled pavers made from machinery patented by J.C. Steele and his sons.
• 612 S. Mulberry Street, Statesville; The C.M. Steele House: This home was built for J.C. Steele's son and partner in his business. The two of them embarked in the brick business and later patented a brick delivery truck and the first automated brick-making equipment. This house was the showcase for their business-made brick, and includes featured curved bricks. Kate and Greg Lewis are leading the renovation for this home, which was purchased in the summer of 2017. The front porch banisters, and kitchen. Upstairs space has also been combined to create a master suite. Decorated with many period pieces, the Lewis’ have great regard for the period home, being only the third owners since the home’s construction in 1901.
• 608 S. Mulberry Street, Statesville; The Montgomery House: This two-story frame, 1911 Victorian home was recently purchased by couple, Dilbert and Kathleen. Work to stabilize the foundation is ongoing as is the preservation of many amazing features of this home. The house has a deep-hipped roof with “pedimented” cross gables on the sides and corners. Although the main entrance is located on the Mulberry St., the house seems oriented toward the corner of Mulberry and Armfield Street because of its corner-projecting bay set at an angle to both sides of the house. A one-story Doric porch follows this angle, as it wraps around the corner of the house. The home is still undergoing renovation.
• 502 S. Mulberry Street, Statesville; The H.O. Steele House / Eisele House: Currently for sale, this home has only had two family owners. Owned by Alan and Bonita Eisele, the H.O. Steele House was where Alan grew up. The house was constructed in the timeframe of 1907-1908 by builder, Lee Steele, for the original owner, H. Oscar Steele, a son of JC & Steele. The two-story brick house has both Elizabethan and classical influences. The home has a deep hip roof with widely overhanging bracketed eaves and 1/1 sash with stone. The one-story front porch has quoined brick posts, wooden Ionic columns and turned balustrade. The sidelights and transom of the main entrance as well as some of the windows have leaded and beveled glass. A one-story brick garage is behind the house. The yard is separated from the sidewalk by a low Flemish bond brick retaining wall. The home is impeccably-decorated and a beacon to the other homes in renovation.
Ticket Information• Tours take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Open schedule with drop-ins welcomed. Must purchase a ticket.
• For more information, to contact the organizer, or to buy a ticket, visit http://bit.ly/2j3mYJG