Historic NC home on 8 acres was up for rent for $850 a month. Why it was such a find

In the Triangle, where rent and home prices continue to surge, a 2,700-square-foot house on almost 9 acres of land is going for $850 a month.

The catch? You have to take care of the historic property, which could include cutting the grass, repainting small areas of the home and keeping the gutters clean.

Preservation North Carolina is leasing the John A. Mason House in Chatham County near Chapel Hill beginning in early August. In exchange for the low rent, the new tenant would be responsible for regular maintenance of the property and the road leading up to the house, according to the organization.

It’s the first time Preservation North Carolina has publicly announced a search for a new renter, said Myrick Howard, the organization’s president.

“We’ve gotten over 90 responses so far,” he said earlier this week.

By Thursday, the organization said it no longer was accepted inquiries due to “overwhelming interest.”

Preservation North Carolina works to preserve and restore historic sites and buildings around the state. In the late 1990s, the organization bought and restored the house that’s nearly 2,700 square feet on a 8.628-acre parcel with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“We spent quite a bit of money to get it back up to speed,” Howard said.

The property is on a peninsula of Jordan Lake south of Chapel Hill and Durham near Fearrington. The land is surrounded by horse trails and game lands, where hunting is allowed outside a perimeter from the house.

Though the home is federally owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Preservation North Carolina has been leasing the home for rent for the past two decades, Howard said.


The house comes with a deep history. Mason, the original owner, built the home around 1850 after he was given 600 acres of land for $1,000 by his father, William Mason, a vet of the Revolutionary War, in February 1835.

Historians have documented that on the property, Mason owned 20 enslaved people and produced wheat, corn and swine. Mason served in the War of 1812 with the Chatham militia. As part of the planter class in the state, he was involved in agriculture, had some education, and owned enslaved people, making him a prominent figure in his community.

The house is considered Greek Revival Style with flat-paneled corner posts and low-brick foundation. The house’s exterior also features a hip-roof porch and a distinctive staircase inside the home. The area surrounding the property is heavily wooded and only accessible through locked gates, according to the organization.

Howard said the Greek Revival style doesn’t mean the house is as high-style as a city house. The portions of the rural house are bigger, taller and more substantial, he said.


The cost of rent to live in the house is below many market prices for rental homes and apartments. The triangle has seen significant increases in rent over the past few years, as reported by the N&O. There has been a 35% increase in five years, and real estate experts predict rent prices will continue to increase.

Howard said they are not looking for any temporary tenants. Ideally, the renter would sign a multi-year lease, he said. In the past, renters have lived in the house for several years, and their successor ends up being someone they know or family members.

Tenants in the house would be responsible mainly for the day-to-day maintenance of the house and property. This can range from anything like cutting the grass, keeping gutters clean, or repainting small sections of the house.

Howard said Preservation North Carolina would pay for all of the heavily-lifting issues such as installing a new heating system or fixing the roof.

“It’s one of those things were we will be negotiating with whoever we select with the amount of rent and the amount of work. In the years, we’ve had folks who wanted to do more work for less rent.”

Since the home is a historic site, there are some variations of tours but the property will just serve as a home for a tenant and their family.

“This is a way of taking care of a property on public land,” Howard said. “It really is a lovely home.” Founded in 1939, Preservation North Carolina is the state’s only private statewide historic preservation non-profit organization. Their mission is to protect and promote sites important to the state, the organization’s website says.

By: Kristen Johnson, The News & Observer

Click here to view the full article