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In 1992 Margaret Jordan Ellis almost singlehandedly preserved one of two truss bridges in Chatham County from demolition, shown here with its replacement.
Balcony Door (Yellow House)
Historical hardware on the balcony door of the Patrick St. Lawrence house in Pittsboro is one of its features meriting preservation.
Beams (Yellow House)
Massive beams, despite termite damage, still support the 1787 two-story house.
Behind Wall (Harbison/Pace House)
Deconstruction around a second-floor closet revealed earlier beadboard and original wide-pine planks.
Bland 1878 (Chatham Park)
Date incised in mortar of chimney provides a starting point to determine who built a now-destroyed house between the Gum Springs Road and Jordan Lake.
Brick (Harbison/Pace House)
Sun-dried brick from interior chimney of the Pace House carries imprint of grass on one side.
Chimney (Snipes House)
Before leveling the site, developers of the Sanctuary, near Bynum, allowed a hurried deconstruction and salvage of materials of the early-1800s Snipes house.
Corner beam (Snipes House)
Construction detail shows a corner beam fashioned from a single piece of wood.
Corner fireplace (Yellow House)
Chimneys and fireplaces were no doubt removed from the Patrick St. Lawrence House before its first move from the Pittsboro town square in the early 1900s. A single chimney served four fireplaces at one end of the building; a second chimney heated the ballroom downstairs and two rooms upstairs.
Probably built as a hunting lodge, no further effort was made by developers to preserve or document this site.
Floor joist (Snipes House)
This construction detail documents the structural integrity of the early nineteenth-century house.
Former house (Harrison Pond)
Flowers may lead to more substantial evidence of a former house site.
Harper truck (Chatham Park)
The ghostly outline of a truck nearly covered with vines led to discovery of nearby foundation remnants of the Harper house. The house was on a farm with cultivated fields visible on a 1938 air photo. Recent air photos show the outline of the same fields grown up in pine trees.
House front (Williams)
A search for the John Williams cemetery location also documented a house built from salvaged materials from Williams’s home, according to a descendant. If the owner decides to develop the property, CCHA will be involved in documenting the history.
Little could be learned about this small house before development cleared the site.
Northeast wall (Harbison/Pace House)
One of the few exterior clues to the age of the house was a protected wall with an original nine-over-six window. As the more recent siding was removed, the original wide-pine walls were revealed.
Original stairs (Harbison/Pace House)
Deconstruction of the remodeled staircase showed the outline of the original steps, reoriented 180°.
Search for history of the Pace house led to a set of photographs taken after the 1924 tornado that destroyed Pace’s mill. The house clearly was that of the Harbison house being deconstructed.
After attempting to give away the former Episcopal rectory, the Rural Advancement Fund International hired a professional team to take down the building. The project provided a model for deconstruction of historical structures, demonstrating that salvage was at least as economical as demolition. Some of the original wood was used in designing the conference room of RAFI’s new center.
Roadbed (Williams site)
Particularly well-preserved is the roadbed leading to the John Williams cemetery from the Old Graham Road. Mapping former roadbeds is one of the dreams of CCHA researchers involved in documenting local history through deed searches.
Rock wall (Chatham Park)
Remnant of a rock wall spotted during a riparian assessment of Robeson Creek led to the documentation of Hatch’s mill and, it is hoped, will lead to an archaeological investigation of the site.
A rockpile may be just a pile of rocks cleared to make a field or pasture, or it may be a wagonload of rocks collected for sale when the land doesn’t grow good crops. It may or may not cover an old cemetery, but it is probably not an Indian burial mound.
Rock wall (Lystra)
Rocks, plentiful in Chatham County, were used to build low walls near fields, houses, family cemeteries, and roads. They are often good indicators of former human occupation, which can be found with more searching.
Shirt (Harbison/Pace House)
Old clothing can help date a historical structure. Two shirts and a pair of drawers were found wrapped around a glass jar and stuffed behind a wall of the Pace House.
Some structures may not warrant documenting, but that decision should not be made too quickly or without a close look.
Snipes beam and sill (Snipes House)
Construction detail shows pegged mortise and tenon joint.
Southeast plank (McClenahan House)
If walls could talk!
Strowd log house
More effort was required to preserve than developer was willing to expend on this log house.
Sawdust (Chatham Park)
Too small to be a natural feature, this overgrown mound turned out to be a sawdust pile, left from a not-too-ancient sawmill operation.
Vandalism (Yellow House)
The lure of unbroken glass threatens abandoned houses of historical importance.