History for sale in Enfield

It has been a decade-long process to save, relocate and renovate the birthplace of BB&T founder Alpheus Branch.

Branch Grove, in Enfield, has been transformed and renovated by Andrus & Company and is now for sale. The tripartite dwelling was built in 1848 by Samuel Warren Branch; father of the founder of BB&T bank.

Preservation N.C. President Myrick Howard said the organization has been working with the property forever.

“Over the years, we had it under contract several different times to someone planning to move and renovate it,” he said. “We were dealing with this during the recession, which is not a good time to be marketing a property that is complicated and will take at the end of the day, hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“It is a very important house,” he said. “We knew it had to be moved. “

The house was on a farm owned by a trust, whose owners had no interest in renovating the house, Howard said. The house had been vacant for decades, and in 2016, an ultimatum was given.

“Basically, folks with the trust basically said, ‘move it or we need to get rid of it,’” he said. “I did what you might call a ‘hail Mary pass’ and contacted an anonymous donor I knew was interested in this kind of house in Eastern North Carolina. She gave us a very generous gift to allow us to move it and stabilize it.”

A site had to be found to move the property to, which was hard to find and took a lot of time, Howard said. Preservation purchased the 40-acre Enfield property for more than $100,000.

“The folks who owned the land agreed to finance the sale of the land to us, which was a really important part of the process,” he said.

After it was moved and stabilized, extensive work was done on the structure, such as the creation of a new foundation and new chimneys, which cost Preservation about $300,000, Howard said.

“We were committed to more than $400,000, knowing full well we would not get anything remotely close to that in the condition we were selling it in,” he said.

Despite the challenges, the house was sold.

“The person who bought it from us is a contractor who does renovation work, and it is fully renovated and is drop dead gorgeous,” Howard said. “They are looking for a buyer.”

Preservation North Carolina partnered with preservation construction company, Andrus & Company, owned by Julia and James Andrus, to complete the renovation. They also purchased the 2,677 square feet home, with three bedrooms, 2-­1/2 baths, an eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, and a separate master suite. Interior features of the house include a two-­story central foyer, six working fireplaces, a front porch, a true standing-seam metal roof, and original wood floors, mantels, moldings, flat-panel wainscoting, windows and doors throughout. The downstairs master suite has a large porch, en­suite bathroom and private sitting area.

Julia and James Andrus live in Enfield, which is one reason they purchased the house, Julia said.

“Enfield has a lot of exciting things going on, and we were really excited about the possibilities going on here,” she said. “We thought renovating the house would be a great project to take on. This was a really fun project and we enjoyed working with it. We are looking forward to seeing the family move in there, bringing life back to Branch Grove.”

In addition to its original owner and other prominent guests he had, Howard said a few factors make the house important, such as the architecture. The house is a tripartite house, meaning the center is the main house with a gable front. The main house runs back from that and it has two wings on the sides. In addition, the hallway runs perpendicular to the front of the house, so walking in the front door leads folks left to right, rather than front to back, he said.

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(The Daily Herald, 9/9/18)