House of the Week: Smith-Cole House

Built around 1840 in Orange County, North Carolina, the Smith-Cole House is a four bedroom, 3 bath classic antebellum federal style farmhouse. On the market now for $1,395,000, the last time this Chapel Hill home was for sale was back in 2002, when it went for $875,000 to award-winning historic home preservationist Diane Eckland. Well, Diane has done some very nice work here, and although there are certainly some things which she should have consulted me about beforehand, I’m still willing to give this home The Taste Maven Stamp of Approval.
12316067_1263160853701458_2267221428139490226_nSituated on 10.41 acres, this double-pile Federal home belonged to three Smith siblings, Mary, Francis and Sidney, and was the manor anchoring 1500 acres called Price Creek Plantation. After a few impressive centuries of dividing the land amongst descendants, the original house ended up on a much smaller plot and was sold out of the family in 1999. In case you are curious, as I was, this was indeed a slave plantation for the two decades between it’s construction and the abolition of slavery. While I was unable to find any references to the Price Creek Plantation owning slaves, I did find several regarding the slave-holding on Smith Plantation, which has a slave cemetery just down the road from the house. The reason I bring this up is because it feels ignorant to celebrate antebellum homes without acknowledging the people who, against their wills, lived and died there, and who remain now all but forgotten. I love plantation houses for their architecture, but I’m not willing to pretend I don’t know about the cruelty that went on in them.
That being said, the house itself is really quite pretty and remarkably well preserved for its age. A few liberties were taken when updating the house, such as an addition of a “gourmet kitchen” where a back porch used to be, grumble grumble. But there is still much to love.

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One Comment

  1. ann

    April 27, 2016

    Really lovely, especially the exterior and property. Kept the “old style.” Re: the resident slaves of yore – some of them were very likely responsible for the actual construction of the place, serving not just as labor but also as craftsmen.

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