Historic Spencer home remodeled and ready to sell

Published 12:05 am Sunday, November 10, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SPENCER — Through a partnership involving the town of Spencer, Rowan County and the Salisbury Community Development Corp., a house at 509 S. Carolina Ave. in Spencer is on the market.

At 4 p.m. Tuesday, the home, which has gone through nearly two years of renovations, will be on display to the public. A ribbon cutting is scheduled at 5:30 p.m.

The house will be available for purchase by low- to moderate-income families that make 80% or less of the median income in Rowan County. The CDC will assist with the down payment.

The house may be familiar for patrons of the Historic Salisbury Foundation’s OctoberTour, where it was featured in 2018. Visitors were able to see the outside and inside of the home during its rehabilitation as part of the tour.

Chanaka Yatawara, executive director of the Community Development Corp., said the home has been completely renovated since the 1910-era house was acquired by the town in early 2018.

Because the home is in Spencer’s historic district, Yatawara said, the transformation was “painstaking work.” Molding and wallboard were replaced, granite countertops were added in the kitchen and bathrooms, the original windows and porch were repaired and shingles were replaced with wood.

Because of the historic nature of the house, the renovation was challenging and expensive, Yatawara said. The house was purchased by the town for $14,000. The CDC put about $120,000 into renovations. And Yatawara said the sale price is $149,990.

Yatawara said the CDC working with the town of Spencer was a first. Rowan County provided federal grant funding.

Joe Morris, Spencer’s interim town planner, said the 1,600-square-foot house will be affordable for a first-time homebuyer, whether a teacher, public servant or future employee of Chewy, the online pet retailer that will bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area next year.

The money made from the sale of the house will go to construct another house on a lot next door.

In Spencer, Yatawara said, buyers can get a lot more house for their money than in Salisbury.

Morris said Spencer was a once a bustling town with 100% employment in transportation and industry. Residents could realize the American dream, he said. Now Spencer has lost its industrial base and is trying to keep up with the service economy. Morris said he hopes the Carolina Avenue house will entice someone to move to Spencer and that the town can again become a thriving community.

“This is a great model to have the town come back,” he said.

Morris said all that is needed is TLC and some elbow grease.

Yatawara said the house is not perfect but it has historic character. The owner will need to be a little savvy with home maintenance, he added.

Tuesday’s open house, Morris said, will hopefully be an inspiration for others to see the potential of older homes and inspire them to restore more in town.

Morris said the main goal is to have someone living in the house who can contribute to the town with ideas and inspiration.

Some residents have urged Yatawara to put it back on OctoberTour to show off the finished product.