OctoberTour brings history of local homes to life

Published 12:10 am Sunday, October 15, 2017

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — For Fan Moberg, stepping into the Hall House is like reliving her family’s history.

OctoberTour attendees say they enjoy the event because of the unique architecture on display or the history hidden in halls of local houses. Meanwhile, Moberg has a different connection that brings her back year after year.

Moberg, who lives in the San Francisco area, is the great-great-granddaughter of Dr. Josephus Hall and Mary Cowan, who began living in the house in the 1850s. Now owned by the Historic Salisbury Foundation, the house is a regular feature on OctoberTour. Originally, it served as classrooms for the Salisbury Female Academy.

Moberg never lived in the house, but recalled visiting and eating lunch there when she was younger. Sweetened ice tea, chicken and salad were likely items on the menu, she recalled. As she walks through the house now, she thinks about whether her grandmother, also named Fan, once stood in the same spot.

“When I go upstairs and look out the windows, I’m looking out the same glass windows that my grandmother looked out of when she was little girl,” Moberg said. “The creaks in floorboards, the way the house would talk during the night, would have been the same sounds she would have heard.”

Moberg was among the hundreds of people on Saturday who served as guides or criss-crossed through city streets for the Historic Salisbury Foundation’s annual OctoberTour, now in its 42nd year.

Stops on the tour stretched from China Grove to Salisbury’s West End community. OctoberTour attendees ranged from casual explorers to historic home enthusiasts. Charlotte resident Cher Cosper, for example, said she’s been to three home tours in the previous month. Meanwhile, Steve and Marlene Seltzer of Albemarle joked that they attended OctoberTour to get “bonus points for culture” from their son, who has a Ph.D. in French history.

Kathy Stevens, a docent at the Hall House, said she volunteered for the event because she enjoys looking at old homes. Stevens said she particularly likes the painted ceiling at the entrance to the Hall House.

With overcast skies and cool weather for much of the day, OctoberTour volunteer Jerry Short estimated that Saturday’s attendance was among the best-ever for OctoberTour. Working at the J.C. Price House, Short said 214 people had visited his location by 1 p.m. At roughly the same time, the Lynch-Nicholson House had seen 256 visitors. The Hambley-Wallace House, the most popular among tour-goers, had seen about 700 visitors by 1:30 p.m. Lane Wallace, a volunteer at the Hambley-Wallace House, said people started lining up as early as 9 a.m.

This year’s tour represented the second-straight in which West End houses were featured. Former presidents of Livingstone College built both West End houses on the tour.

The Lynch-Nicholson House, also featured in 2016, was built by William H. Goler, Livingstone College’s second president. In 2016, OctoberTour featured the house as a work in progress. This year, the tour showcased the fully restored house, located on West Monroe Street.

The restoration included: curved, stained glass windows in the stairwell and front hall, the original mantels, wood floors and windows throughout the house.

OctoberTour also featured the J.C. Price House, a few blocks south of the Lynch-Nicholson House. Historian Reginald Brown said the house is the oldest residence in the West End.

Brown said Joseph Charles Price, the founder and first president of Livingstone College, built the house before a road existed. Within a year, a path in front of the house became College Avenue, Brown said. Later, it became West Monroe Street. The house sits directly across Monroe Street from Livingstone College.

Brown said one unique feature about the house is that nails were not used in its construction. Wooden pegs were used to join the joists, beams and sills of the house. College students made bricks used in construction of the house. Also built by students was a mantel and fireplace surround in the dining room.

The Price family still owns the house, which is for sale.

OctoberTour continues today from noon until 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 each for groups and $10 for children. Tickets allow one visit to each tour site and can be used either day of the tour.

For more information about this year’s event, visit octobertour.com.

Contact Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.