A passion for preservation: the history of Ingleside to be kept alive

Ingleside sits as if on an oasis with suburban development almost completely surrounding it. The historic house almost got demolished to make way for new housing, however, at the request of the Lincoln County Historical Association, county commissioners, and the owners, Preservation North Carolina was brought in to help find a preservation solution for this important house.

Ingleside’s former owners, Caroline Clark and her family, who acquired Ingleside in 1951 agreed to donate the house and 5.75 acres to Preservation North Carolina in the summer of 2018, according to a press release from Preservation North Carolina, to ensure its permanent protection while allowing for new development around the house. This donation is one of the largest gifts of property the statewide nonprofit has ever received.

It took a while, but the house was sold to a family from New Orleans and will be protected in perpetuity under PNC’s protective covenants. It will continue to stand as an important part of Lincoln County history.

Darryl Saunders and his wife, Jie Zhu purchased the property on Aug. 9. Before relocating to Iron Station, Saunders and his family lived in New Orleans. His parents are living at Ingleside as well now.

“A hobby of mine is to get online and look at historic properties that are for sale across the country,” Saunders said. “It’s purely out of curiosity as opposed to constantly being on the lookout for something to live in. When we saw this property, it jumped out to us. Basically, because of the significance of the property architecturally, and because my parents lived in South Charlotte and then Lake Wylie for about 20 years. We were familiar with the area and intrigued that we’d never seen or heard of Ingleside.”

Ingleside had been kept in very good condition by the Clark family, Saunders added.

“My family and I had spent the last five or six months in quarantine in a city so something with a little bit of land intrigued us,” he said. “It’d been sitting on the market, I think, for about a year and a half and there hadn’t been a lot of serious interest.”

Ingleside was purchased as a residence for Saunders and his family to live in. He’s restored other historic properties in the past and converted them into apartments, all while maintaining the architectural integrity of the property.

“I like working with historic houses and I care about preserving them,” he said. “I think it’s important for us as Americans to preserve these sites and structures in order for us to understand our history.”

Saunders is starting to add his own improvements to Ingleside, many of which are being done to the exterior of the property. As an example, the massive boxwoods that were formerly in front of the house and blocking the view of it, have all been removed.

At one time, Ingleside sat on thousands of acres and was a self-sustaining plantation. Saunders is interested in the agricultural history of the property and is starting to plant fruit trees that may have been grown at one time at Ingleside. He’s put in a small apple orchard with apples that may be like what the Forneys grew to make cider.

“I think there’s a lot of research that can be done, that hasn’t been,” he said. “I’ve done some preliminary research on Daniel Forney and there were a lot of things that came to light that were easy to find, but no one has taken the time to do it yet. There are some great local organizations like the Lincoln County Historical Association, so it’d be nice to work with them. I think a lot could be achieved in telling the story of Ingleside.”

Prior to moving into Ingleside, while walking behind the property, Saunders found archeological artifacts like shards of pottery sticking out of the ground. When he came back a few months later, that entire area had been bulldozed. All the history associated with Ingleside, including the house, could have been completely lost to development if the property hadn’t been purchased.

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