Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Ever dream of getting married in a palace? If all goes as planned, brides could one day walk down the aisle at Salisbury’s most palatial residence — the Hambley-Wallace House.
The lavishly detailed mansion at 508 S. Fulton St. may host weddings, fundraisers and other private events after the family completes an extensive restoration begun two months ago.
Lee and Mona Lisa Wallace bought the home in March from Lee Wallace’s siblings for $950,000, according to documents filed with the Rowan County Register of Deeds.
“My family and I are extremely excited to have the opportunity to purchase and restore this magnificent home,” Mona Lisa Wallace said in a statement.
Wallace called the restoration “a significant investment and undertaking” and said her family recognizes and values the home’s historical significance.
The home can “educate, inspire and excite our community,” she said.
Perhaps the most recognizable residence in Salisbury, the house built in 1903 has been in the Wallace family since 1927.
“Once restored, we plan to offer the home and grounds to various charities and foundations for fundraising and to host weddings and other private events,” Mona Lisa Wallace said.
Her brother, Spencer Lane, and his wife, Janie Lane, are the driving force behind the restoration, she said. Karl Sale, a restoration expert, is assisting with the historic preservation of the property.
Contracting the house for events like weddings will require changing the city’s Land Development Ordinance, City Planner Preston Mitchell said.
“This is unchartered territory for us,” Mitchell said.
The city has no provision for someone to rent out or contract a private home to a third party, which would be a commercial use, he said.
Planners are working with the family, fire marshal and Rowan County Building Code Enforcement to come up with appropriate language for a text amendment to the ordinance, Mitchell said.
Nothing official has been submitted, and the change would require a nod from the Salisbury Planning Board and City Council.
Restoring the home’s exterior, however, did not require approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission because repairs will match existing work, City Planner Janet Gapen said.
“It can be extensive, but it’s still considered minor works — things that can be approved at a staff level,” she said.
The paint around the windows has gone from gray to green, but the color change did not need approval because green was determined to be the original color, Gapen said.
Exterior work approved by staff will include repairing mortar joints, cleaning and repairing guttering and removing old storm windows in favor of low-profile storm windows.
Crews will repair and paint windows and the roof ridge cap.
They will take out aluminum casement windows from the sleeping porch and restore it. They will remove roll-out windows from the back porch and replace them with windows that conform with original windows in the house.
The home earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Described as late 19th and 20th Century Revival architecture of a “Chateauesque style,” the home was one of 10 nationwide examples of the style, including the Biltmore House in Asheville, chosen as illustrations in the 1984 “A Field Guide to American Houses.”
The late Leo Wallace Jr. and his wife Virginia Wallace lived in the house for many years. Three siblings — Lee Wallace, Victor Wallace and Suzanne Wallace Casey — owned the property as co-trustees when Lee and Mona Lisa Wallace bought it.
Mona Lisa Wallace said her family anticipates that one day the home will again become a private residence.
“We hope to always emulate Leo and Virginia Wallace’s decades of generosity and to preserve this home as a historical landmark and source of pride for Salisbury,” she said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.