Nereus Mendenhall House – STRUCTURE ONLY
- Lot Size: N/A acres / Zoning: N/A
, Regional Director
Preservation NC, Piedmont Office
This important early house with Guilford College ties must be moved – again! It has simple yet refined woodwork, mortise-and-tenon construction, and a modified Quaker plan ready for permanent new location.
High Point is located in the Piedmont Triad region and is North Carolina’s 9th largest city. It is known for its furniture, textiles, and bus manufacturing. The city is sometimes referred to as the “Furniture Capital of the World, “and a semi-annual furniture market is held which attracts 100,000 exhibitors and buyers from around the world. High Point is home to three universities: High Point University, South University and Laurel University. Most of the city is located in Guilford County, with portions spilling into neighboring Randolph, Davidson, and Forsyth counties. High Point is less than 20 minutes from Greensboro and less than 30 minutes from Winston-Salem and the Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Architectural & Historical Information
Built c. 1830, the Nereus Mendenhall House, also known as The Oaks, is a highly significant I-house with a modified Quaker-plan interior with a center hall. Features include wide overhanging eaves, a full facade shed porch with flush wood sheathing beneath and in the gables and slightly tapered porch columns. Throughout the interior are horizontal wood sheathing, simple yet unique mantel with raised panel frieze, two-panel doors, and a staircase in the center hall featuring an elegant stair rail with square balustrade and unusual turned newel posts. Two rear shed rooms and an attached kitchen dependency did not survive the first move. The main part of the house is of heavy mortise and tenon construction, making it an ideal candidate for a move. Some salvaged material is stored on site including planks, doors, original foundation stone and brick.
“The Oaks” was named for a stand of ancient oak trees that stood in the front yard of the house built for Orianna Wilson and Dr. Nereus Mendenhall. Nereus was born in the Richard Mendenhall Plantation house in Jamestown and attended Haverford College and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Upon his return to Guilford County, he practiced medicine for six years before taking a position as a surveyor for the North Carolina Railroad. An advocate for public education, Nereus increasingly grew interested in teaching and eventually took on administrative and teaching roles at nearby schools, including New Garden Friends School near Greensboro, which eventually became Guilford College. He served as principal there at various times between 1839 and 1866 and is credited with keeping it open during the Civil War. He served as clerk of North Carolina Yearly Meeting from 1860 to 1871 and was elected to the state legislature for the 1874–1875 term, during which time he worked as a member of the building committee to establish a state hospital for the insane in Morganton.
“The Oaks” was relocated under threat of demolition in 1998 to a site off Penny Road near High Point. It must now find a permanent new location.