A historic farmhouse near Providence Estates East in south Charlotte has been saved from destruction a second time, despite plans to build multiple homes on the pasture surrounding it.
Development plans call for eight homes to be added to the 5.44 acres around the Henningan Place, at 3503 Tilley Morris Road in Matthews. But the house will survive intact, said Dan Morrill of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. The barn on the property will also remain, officials said.
The restored 2,180-square-foot home was rescued once before, in the early ’70s, when it was purchased by a couple for $159 and moved from U.S. 521 to its current location. That move came after news spread the James Henningan Place was to be torched so a local fire department could practice firefighting techniques.
Built around 1845, the Hennigan Place is considered one of Mecklenburg County’s “finer examples of vernacular Greek Revival Style farm house,” according to the landmarks commission. It is located southwest of Colonel Francis Beatty Park, in a booming part of southern Mecklenburg County.
Morrill said the former owners, Peter and Betty Snow, tried for several years to sell the land to someone who would preserve the surrounding pasture.
“Nobody would step forward. Many prospective buyers even wanted to tear the house down,” Morrill said in a Facebook post.
“The property was sold to a developer who plans to build several new houses, and the Historic Landmarks Commission will control the design. The developer will save the Hennigan Place and sell it as a home. It will be a wonderful place to live....And, most importantly, the developer will grant a preservation easement on the property to assure its preservation in perpetuity.”
Morrill acknowledges his preference was to save the entire property, but that “proved impossible.”
“The Historic Landmarks Commission has to manage change, not try to prevent it,” he said on Facebook.
Philip Hayes is the man behind the development project – to be called Hennigan Place – and he says it has been two years in the planning. Work will begin in the spring. Among the highlights:
- All the surrounding homes will be “farmhouse style” in architecture, he says, and will range in price from $750,000 to $900,000.
- The Hennigan Place will be protected within a 2-acre enclave of preserved land, and its barn will be saved for possible use as an art studio.
- The unique staked rail scissor fencing that the previous owners had erected will be saved.
A 2008 Charlotte Observer story noted the Snows were driving along U.S. 521 (near the President James K. Polk State Historic Site) in 1970 when she looked up and saw the house on the hill.
“It was in rundown condition, but the lines were exquisite,” she recalls.
They soon learned of the plans for the fire department to burn the house, built by a prominent farmer named James Hennigan. The couple quickly bought it, moved it across the street, and began looking for a permanent place for it. In 1973, they disassembled it carefully and moved it to 3503 Tilley Morris Road, where it sits near Interstate 485 and Providence Road.
The couple restored the house in their spare time, working alongside hired laborers stripping paint, and spending weekends hunting for antiques in the N.C. mountains. They did not add plumbing or wiring.