‘Love of all things old’ motivates couple to restore historic Gordon Hardware building

The new property owners plan vintage retail, Airbnb for circa 1870s building which has been vacant for decades

SUMMERFIELD – The new owners of the historic Gordon Hardware building envision selling vintage items downstairs and operating an Airbnb rental upstairs.

That’s the plan of Johanna and Thomas Elsner, a Winston-Salem couple who restores historic homes, builds tiny houses and operates four Airbnb properties. Their tiny house-building company, Perch and Nest, operates on a former dairy farm near downtown Winston-Salem.

“We worked in older home restoration for ourselves and others for many years before getting into the tiny house business,” Johanna wrote in a recent email. She explained the couple began building tiny houses on their property after they started their family and her husband, a carpenter, needed to work from home to be with their kids.

The Elsners purchased the circa 1870s Gordon Hardware building at 7722 Summerfield Road in January. Preservation North Carolina (PNC), a nonprofit organization based in Raleigh, facilitated the sale for the Town of Summerfield.

The Elsners anticipate starting restoration work on the Gordon building by this summer.

“We are waiting for septic/well permit approval and our historic tax credit application to be approved prior to any major renovations,” Johanna said.

The Gordon building sits on less than half an acre at the corner of Summerfield Road and N.C. 150. Due to the small size of the lot, the Elsners plan to seek Guilford County’s permission to install a smaller septic system that since the start of the year is now allowed within county regulations, she said. They also plan to drill a new well for water.

The couple’s crew is rehabbing other properties. They are restoring the historic Hooper house in Reidsville, after finishing the redo of a circa 1940s farmhouse in Danbury, in Stokes County, according to Johanna. They plan to wrap up the restoration of two circa 1904 vacation cabins in the North Carolina mountains before turning their focus to the Gordon building.

Johanna said the Summerfield restoration will marry her husband’s carpentry skills and her “love of all things old.”

“I have always been a collector of vintage finds (and) a thrift shopper,” she said. “So this project is really going to bring everything we both love together.”

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