Wallaces win state preservation award

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 11, 2013

SALISBURY — Mona Lisa and Lee Wallace have won a Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit from Preservation North Carolina for the restoration of the Hambley-Wallace House, a 20-room mansion that has been called “Salisbury’s Biltmore.”
Presented since 1974, up to 12 awards are given each year. The awards recognize people or organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to historic preservation through leadership, research, philanthropy, promotion or significant participation in preservation.
The awards are named for the late Dr. Gertrude S. Carraway, a noted New Bern historian and preservationist.
For two years, armies of craftsmen guided by Spencer and Janie Lane brought the Hambley-Wallace House at 508 S. Fulton St. back to life.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 10,000-square-foot home has muscular granite accents and seemingly endless spires, pinnacles, turrets, gables, towers and chimneys.
Along with Asheville’s Biltmore House, the Hambley-Wallace House is listed as one of the 10 finest examples of the Chateauesque-style of architecture in the country.
For the Wallaces, restoring the 1903 structure reinforced for them the home’s importance to Rowan County history and their family’s own heritage. They made it a preservation project for the community and for generations of Salisburians and family members to come.
“We just thought it was the right thing to do,” Mona Lisa Wallace said during the restoration.
The home was the centerpiece of the 2012 OctoberTour, Historic Salisbury Foundation’s annual tour of homes.
Since 1941, Leo Wallace Jr. and his wife, Virginia, had lived in and lovingly maintained the home. But in more recent years before their deaths, the family priority became the Wallaces themselves, not the mansion. The Wallaces lived their last years at Trinity Oaks.
After Leo Wallace died in 2010, his oldest son Lee and wife Mona Lisa purchased the house, and Mona Lisa persuaded her brother, Spencer Lane, and his wife, Janie, to lead the renovations of the house and grounds.
The couple routinely worked 18-hour days with as many as 50 people — carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, roofers — on site at one time. The Wallaces hired local craftsmen when possible.
Thanks to the full basement and outside buildings, items such as original light fixtures were stored away intact and could be located and returned to their rightful places. Nothing original to the house was lost.
Preservation North Carolina will present the 2013 awards Oct. 4 in Edenton at the organization’s annual conference.  Visit www.presnc.org for more information.

The awards presentation and luncheon are open to the public, but pre-registration is required. 

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