Historic downtown Raleigh mansion getting second life

RALEIGH, N.C. — Renovations are finally underway at a historic home in downtown Raleigh that was once owned by the state.

Vacant for decades, the state sold the Heck-Andrews House, at 309 N. Blount St., in early 2016 to the North Carolina Association of Realtors for $1.5 million.

“It’s a wonderful house,” architect Jim Grady said Thursday.

Grady, who specializes in historic preservation, is overseeing the effort to transform the mansion back to how it looked shortly after Confederate veteran Jonathan McGee Heck and his wife, Mattie, built their home in 1870 on what was then the north edge of Raleigh.

“This was all pasture. There were cows and farms out here at that time,” Grady said of the surrounding area.

The home has a French-inspired Second Empire design and includes a grand tower with a widow’s walk and ornamental windows in every direction.

“It’s so iconic and part of Raleigh, it was just a natural fit,” said Mark Zimmerman, senior vice president of external affairs for the Realtors Association. “We can now be part of what we’re trying to help communities do by preserving their past.”

The association recently completed all of the historical permitting hurdles to renovate the home.

That includes restoring the pine and oak flooring and all of the decorative mouldings.

“The fancy ceiling rosettes,” Grady said, “they’re protected and will be preserved.”

While sticking to historic standards, the renovation will include modern touches like an elevator and a kitchen in the back, as well as a geothermal well heating and cooling system.

The house has some of Raleigh’s first plumbing, Grady said, noting that its pipes were only for cold water, so hot water piping will have to be added.

The Realtors Association plans to use the upper floors for offices, while the first floor is seen as space that people can reserve for public events, parties and weddings.

“One of the things we want to do is share this beautiful property with the people of Raleigh,” Zimmerman said, adding that the group hopes to finish the project by the end of next year.

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(WRAL, 12/27/18)