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Historic homes moved for downtown project

Posted August 23, 2008

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— Crews moved two historic homes to new address on Saturday.

The Merrimon Wynne House and the Hume House were moved from their North Wilmington Street addresses as part of the Blount Street Commons Project, designed to revitalize a historic section of downtown Raleigh.

“I think it’s great they’re preserving the houses as well as trying to bring more life down to this part of town,” downtown resident Galen Gillett said.

The Merrimon and Hume moves were the second batch of homes crews moved for the project. Three other homes are scheduled to be moved in the spring.

The Blount Street Commons project will eventually include nearly 500 new homes amid 25 historic Victorian homes in a six-block area near downtown.

The Blount Street neighborhood is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, having flourished from the Civil War until the early 1900s.

The state bought up much of the property decades ago, turning many of the homes into government offices and cutting the area off from nearby neighborhoods. That created what critics have described as a "dead zone" in recent years.

The Merrimon Wynne House, which moved from 526 North Wilmington St. to 500 North Blount St, was built in 1875 for Augustus S. Merrimon, a lawyer, judge, U.S. senator and chief justice for the state Supreme Court. The Victorian villa was later deeded to Peace College and became a home for the school’s president. The house is also listed on the National Register of Historic Place and is a Raleigh Historical Landmark.

Mary Lou Pressly, 79, was almost 7-years-old when her family moved into the Merrimon House. Pressly’s father served as Peace College president for 30 years.

“We always had plenty of room and something we didn’t have enough furniture to fill it up, but had plenty of room and could always have company,” Pressly said.

The Hume House moved from 530 North Wilmington St. to 411 North Person St. The home, also known as the Watson House, was built in 1906 by state Horticulturist and college instructor H. Harold Hume. The Watson family subsequently owned the home.

New homes in the 21-acre development will include architectural features that blend with the historic homes, and they will be built in a range of styles, from row houses to loft apartments to condominiums above retail shops. Homes prices will range from $200,000 to more than $1 million.

Representatives for Miami-based developer LNR Property Corp., who is working with the city of Raleigh on the project, said the Merrimon home was reserved under contract, but since that contract fell through the home will go on the market as is for $868,000.

The Hume House won’t be available for sale until sometime next year.

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