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State Pays Millions For a Heck of a House

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RALEIGH — A historic downtown Raleigh landmark is coming back to life. At a cost to the state of close to $3 million, the exterior of the 130-year-old Heck-Andrews house looks new, but the interior is showing its age.

In 1870, the house made a bold statement: that the glory days of the south were not over.

Confederate veteran Jonathan McGee Heck and his wife Mattie built their mansion on what was then the north edge of Raleigh.

For the past year, Steve Whetzel has been working to keep it from falling off the edge of neglect.

One whole section of the house is heavily damaged by water and termites.

Most of the floor and walls in the rear of the home will have to be replaced, while classic fixtures can be restored.

Some of the doors were saved; others are reproductions of the 3-inch solid mahogany originals.

On the second floor, a gaslight hangs on the wall, a leftover from a time before electricity.

On the third floor servants' quarters, an air tube remains, once used for summoning help.

Round windows provide a clear view of the neighborhood, including the governor's mansion.

There is still a trace of the original family on the new steel roof. One of the bricks has "Miss Sara H" engraved in it, the name of one of the Heck's daughters.

Whetzel has worked on restoration projects in Colonial Williamsburg, on Capitol Hill, even the White House. Still for him, Heck-Andrews is special. "I would have to say this is one of the highlights of my career," Whetzel said.

Work on the interior of the Heck-Andrews House is on hold until the state can budget $2 million to finish the project.

The home will be part of the Capital Area Landmarks tour November 6.


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