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One of the city’s oldest houses will make a big move later this year, getting out of the way of an apartment complex.
The Crabtree Jones House, built around 1795, sits on a wooded hill near where Wake Forest Road meets the Beltline. It has remained untouched as developments grew up around the once rural site – a cluster of hotels on one side, a subdivision on the other. But now a developer wants the land to build the 243-unit Jones Grant Apartments. Russ Davis of Greenville, S.C., plans to start construction later this year. And while century-old trees will have to go, Davis wants his wrecking ball to avoid the house.
“We realized that the most critical issue with this site was the Crabtree Jones House,” Davis said. “It’s important to us that the house remain.”
So Davis’ company will pay the costs of moving the two-story, 4,000-square foot home to a nearby neighborhood. It will be donated to Preservation North Carolina, a nonprofit that protects the state’s historic sites. PNC is buying a lot in Crabtree Heights for the historic home and is looking for a buyer willing to fix the place up.
“The house does need a lot of work,” said Myrick Howard, president of the group. He expects renovation costs to near $500,000, with the house and new lot selling for $300,000 to $400,000.
The house is named for its builder, early Raleigh settler Nathaniel “Crabtree” Jones, who ran a plantation that neighbored Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, where plans for the state capital were first made. The property stayed in the Jones family until the 1960s, when real-estate investor Charles William Gaddy bought up tracts of land around the Beltline. Gaddy didn’t have much use for the old home, but he made a point to preserve it, inviting a local architect to live there rent-free in exchange for keeping the place up. After Gaddy’s death in 2005, his family is selling the lot – one of his last undeveloped properties – to Davis.
“(Gaddy) always assured me he would not tear down the house,” Howard said.
PNC has been working hard to ensure the home’s future. The group plans to purchase a home at the end of Hilmer Drive and raze it to make way for the Crabtree Jones House. The newer house’s owner recently died and her children were willing to sell. Nearby residents have been largely supportive of getting a 217-year-old neighbor, Howard said.
Howard thinks the house could be Raleigh’s oldest home still in private hands. Other houses constructed in the same time period – the Mordecai House and Joel Lane House closer to downtown – are now museums run by the city.
PNC still has a few hurdles to clear before the house goes on a moving truck within months. The city must approve an exception to its zoning buffer, which would allow the house to cross into Crabtree Heights. And it’s unclear what plants and building materials can be saved before the bulldozers arrive.
“We’ve got to figure out which part of the stone foundation we can salvage,” Howard said.
Then there’s finding a buyer willing to take on the tall task of renovations. PNC is taking a bit of a gamble there. “When we sell it, we hope to at least recoup the costs of the land,” Howard said.