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Historic Salisbury Foundation commissions restoration of abandoned Bank Street house

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
One of the stars of this year’s OctoberTour will be the rejuvenated Hamill-Thompson-Kessler House at 321 E. Bank St.
Historic Salisbury Foundation hopes the home’s complete restoration, which began last November, will prove to be a showpiece and catalyst for the Brooklyn-South Square Historic District the way the McCubbins-McCanless House was for Park Avenue.
The foundation held a reception at the East Bank Street house Thursday night to say thanks to all the contractors and vendors who played a role in the structure’s top-to-bottom transformation.
The contractors gave the foundation breaks on their prices, but they did not compromise on the quality of their workmanship, said Gwen Matthews, director of historic properties, the real estate arm of the foundation.
By OctoberTour, the Hamill-Thompson-Kessler House will be in move-in condition, with an asking price of $239,900.
The property includes an 1891 cottage in back and a two-car garage with considerable upstairs space.
Matthews and HSF Director Jack Thomson say the house already qualifies for state historic tax credits which will sharply discount what the new owner ends up paying.
“Whoever buys this house will be getting quite a deal,” Matthews said.
The house sits in the area that once was part of the Salisbury Confederate Prison site.
“The terra firma is very valuable to us,” Thomson said. “We knew it was a significant location.”
With the financial help of Jim and Gerry Hurley, Historic Salisbury Foundation bought the 1899 house about 20 years ago to save it from further deterioration. It had been vacant and in disrepair in recent years.
In 1967, a previous owner had divided the house into apartments with seven small rooms, one after the other, in what is now the central hall for a single-family residence with all-modern amenities.
The one-story Italianate home features a Victorian front and wrap-around porch. It covers about 2,100 square feet and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and a formal parlor.
The spacious kitchen has a ceramic tile floor and painted cabinets. The master bedroom connects to a front sunroom and has a fully appointed bathroom to the rear.
Two of the home’s original pine fireplace mantles have been restored and include new tile.
The side of the house has retained its 1950s-era carport.
Project manager Ken Weaver of Carolina Home Restoration said the project has been “a beautiful challenge for a beautiful house.”
Weaver approached Salisbury preservationist and foundation trustee Ed Clement about tackling a total restoration last July, and the foundation secured important funding from Community Bank of Rowan.
China Grove’s Larry Stirewalt, who Matthews said “is always a blessing to have on a project,” served as the general contractor.
Weaver said the first major challenge proved to be under the house, where everything was rotting and floors had done some serious settling over more than a century.
Floors were raised, leveled and stabilized. Double-hung windows were restored. Hidden arches were revealed. Pitted ceilings had to be repaired. Moldings on doors and along the floors were reconstructed, duplicating remnants left in various places of the house.
New drywall had to be installed in many rooms, while others have retained their wooden walls and ceilings, which rise at least 12 feet high. Many of the rooms have new wallpaper.
“It’s a brand new home ó with better features,” Matthews said.
The double front door was salvaged from a next-door residence that burned down in 1992. Anne Lyles, a resident of Brooklyn-South Square, held the door in storage so it could be used in just this kind of project.
Matthews pointed out a couple of other doors in the newly restored house which were salvaged from the old Ice House.
Weaver said he left a section of the original 1899 wallpaper on a wall that was covered up. The next remodeling 50 or 60 years from now will offer a nice little treasure, he said.
The home’s original heart of pine floors are all intact.
The central hall floors are 200-year-old cypress from a demolished home in New Orleans.
J.W. Hamill was a prosperous saloon owner. In 1899, he moved the small 1891 cottage (Holmes-Hamill House) that sat on Bank Street to the rear of the property and built the larger home in its spot.
The cottage in back is pretty much cleaned out and has water, sewer and power, Matthews said. It might make a good apartment, office or shop, she suggested.
The space above the nearby garage could make a good man cave, Matthews added.
Thompson and Kessler refer to families which owned the main house after Hamill.
Matthews said the foundation is really proud of the house looking forward to the OctoberTour (Oct. 10 and 11) when the whole community can see a first-class restoration and the foundation’s efforts at neighborhood revitalization.
“(We) do want to parade the whole town through it,” Matthews said.
Other partners in the restoration included Bonilla Plant, Southeast Plumbing, Rowan Decorating Center, Sherwin Williams, Travis Shane Martin (tile work), Ludwig Linoleum and Carpet, Chandler Concrete, J&J Drywall, Grimes Flooring, Erwin Glass, Queen City Appliance, Rico Tile, Apple Blossom (insulation), Home Lighting, Design In Counter, Stirewalt Plumbing, Stirewalt Landscaping, Heritage Home Restoration (Paul Cheek), Kevin Moore, SMJ Electric, Inman Heating and Air, Design Enterprise, Taylor Designs and Mike Webb (wallpaper).

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