While visiting an antique show in autumn of 2015, Scott Reed, architect and interior designer, received a call about a house from the 1800s.
In the digital age, the historic 2nd Street property found restoration thanks to an advertisement Reed’s sister found on Craigslist.
The listing offered a place sitting on the Watkinsville Memorial Baptist lot. The church wanted the building off of their lot; maintaining the full structure presented a challenge. The ad mentioned the building’s approaching demolition.
“It was listed as an architectural salvage goldmine,” Reed said. “I immediately looked at the link and recognized the house… I had walked around the house when I was in college.”
“I was determined to see that the house could live on,” Reed said.
When Reed made the decision to pursue the restoration of the 2nd Street house, his family connections proved useful.
“When I was in high school, my mother had an antique shop in Watkinsville on Main Street in an 1827 historic house,” Reed said. “[James] Carter came in one day. I overheard him talking to my mom about, at that time it was his hobby…restoring these wonderful historic houses … I remember thinking to myself, ‘That is what I want to do one day.’ I never forgot his name.”
Reed’s personal history helped him secure a buyer for the house. Carter, now the owner of the 2nd Street house, works alongside Reed on the restoration of the building.
Of Carter, Reed said, “He’s one of the few people who truly thinks like me and has this intangible understanding and appreciation for historic buildings.”
During a review of the house, Reed came across a civil war soldier’s initials etched in glass. Inscribed on the window pane, the signature of Milledge Lindsey Durham along with evidence of two dramatic renovations date the home to earlier than initially thought.
“It had been known as the Dr. Durham House,” Reed said. “It was supposed that it was called that because it was modeled after the house of Dr. Lindsey Durham who was a very prominent member of the community in the 1820s through the 1840s.”
Since the Watkinsville Courthouse caught fire in 1887, destroying several of town’s forms, Durham’s initials in the home do much to boost local legends.
“The etching by diamond on glass was a fad really prewar,” Reed said. “…I think it gives us strong evidence that this was the Durham place.”
The renovation plans aim to maintain some aspects from previous reconstructions, including the home’s balconies. According to Reed and Carter, the presence of front and back balconies suggest a North Carolina influence. For Carter, native to North Carolina, this feature further unites the structure to his ideas of home.
Carter also plans to convert the former kitchen structure into a guest house. The majority of the plans propose to source period-authentic materials whenever possible.
Modern accommodations, such as replacing interior features with kitchens and bathrooms, present an issue of debate for Carter and Reed.
“It is difficult finding a way to make the house really function for the way we live today but completely respect the historic architecture,” Reed said.
Despite the challenges, Reed and Carter gathered many rewards through the renovation, especially concerning the community.
“I’ve had so many wonderful, wonderful folks thank me for saving the house,” Carter said. “The thing that makes me feel the very best is that it makes other people feel good.”