The Pee Dee region of South Carolina is a place replete with moss-laden trees, forests and rolling farmland, and more than a few majestic old houses. One of it's finest and best has been partially restored and is now on the market—and it's tugging at every last one our heartstrings.
"Bellevue (as the circa-1845 home is known) is one of the most magnificent homes in the region, and it's too important to lose," says Michael Bedenbaugh, Executive Director of Preservation South Carolina, who has worked closely with the current owner on the stabilization of the home. "We're excited that it's available for others to come into, invest in, and make it a home again."
Indeed, this is the kind of place that simply can't be replicated. Set on 18 acres in Society Hill, the home measures 5,000 square feet. It features four iconic, tall chimneys, a spectacular front door flanked by columns, transoms and a fanlight, grand interior archways and a floating staircase spanning multiple stories. The property is filled trees and lush plantings, making it a gardener's dream come true.
Becoming the next steward of this jewel of a home will take more than a love for old houses—it will take some funding, too, though Bedenbaugh warns not to let that be a deterrent. "People look at places like this that need to be restored, and all they think about it is how much it'll cost," he says. "But that is such a huge distraction. The primary structure of this home exists, and that is a huge thing. When it's finished, it will be a magnificent showplace."
Though the home is not yet listed on the National Register of Historic Places (something the current owner hopes to pursue in the near future), the potential may exist for tax breaks for restoration work on the home. Interested parties should the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office for more information.
Here's some more good news: Whoever purchases the home can rest assured that the work completed so far has been up the highest standards. The current owner, Dr. Ernest “Chip” Helms, is well-known in local preservation circles and respected for his work helping to save a handful of historical homes in and around Society Hill. In 2012, he received the prestigious Governor's Award given by Preservation South Carolina in conjunction with the SC Department of Archives and History and the Office of the Governor—the award honors his lifelong dedication to the preservation of South Carolina’s historic buildings.
Suffice it to say, Dr. Helms has poured his heart and soul into the stabilization and partial restoration of Bellevue. At the time he purchased it, the property was so overgrown with Japanese Timber Bamboo (planted back in the 1920s, and neglected for years thereafter) that it took three solid years to clear it out. An earthquake in 1886 had destroyed several of the home's ceilings in addition to its four majestic chimneys and these were all rebuilt.
Two of the rooms in the rear of the house lacked floors, so Helms had old heart pine custom milled to match the other rooms in the house. Doors that had been lost were painstakingly replicated. The house was insulated, rewired and outfitted with a standing seam galvanized roof; outbuildings were restored and reconstructed. He even found cast iron light fixtures for each of the home's entryways, complete with milk glass globes to match the two flanking the front entrance.
The continued work on this home will surely be a labor of love for the right person. But oh, what a reward it will be.
Asking price: $275,000. For more information, George Bullard, , (843) 479-4774