UNC alumni Marty and AraLu Lindsey (Class of ’84 and ’83) enjoyed life on Chapel Hill’s campus so much that when they got a chance to live adjacent to it again, they took it – termites, Bulrushes and all. In December 2013, the couple purchased the historic Edward Kidder Graham House on the corner of Hooper and Battle lanes working through Preservation North Carolina, which provides restrictive covenants by which historic properties can be saved for future generations.
Like termites holding hands to keep the old EKG House from falling down, the Lindseys shook hands with their friend Craig Morrison, whose company, Cimarron Homes, has been building homes and neighborhoods throughout the Triangle since 1982. They worked closely with Craig’s son, Justin, and the company’s many long-time subcontractors to complete the renovation in 2014 within historic guidelines.
“Preservation Chapel Hill made great efforts to save the home from demolition by encouraging the owner/developer in 2009 to allow Preservation North Carolina to list the home for sale with conditions mandating that it be restored,” Lindsey said. “Preservation North Carolina and Chapel Hill Historic District Commission and extraordinary cooperation from the town of Chapel Hill allowed for our successful renovation in 2014.”
The house was built in 1908 for Susan Moses and Edward Kidder Graham (UNC President 1914-1918) by his parents, so Edward could begin his professorial career at UNC. During those early years, the Grahams boarded fellow academics, including Kemp Battle (UNC President (1876-1891) and Frank Porter Graham, Edward’s cousin who also became President of the University (1930-1934) and a United States Senator.
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The house at 115 Battle Lane was built in the style of a Colonial Revival Cottage reminiscent of residences built on the campus of Princeton University in the late 1880s. During the 1900s, the house was known as “Bulrushes,” after tall stands of bamboo on the .67-acre tract of land upon which the house was built.
After the Grahams’ time on Battle Lane, the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority called it home in the mid-1940s and the name “Bulrushes” gave way to “the little brown house on Battle Lane” after the sorority’s popular rush song. The University sold the house in 1948. The Warren family lived there until the house was sold in the late-1990s to a developer who never lived in the house. The house remained vacant for 16 years prior to the Lindsey’s purchase.
The Lindseys, themselves, were no strangers to historic renovation, owning a Revolutionary War farm on AraLu’s side – the Bartlett-Moore Farm -- built in 1789 in Rockingham County. The Lindseys renovation has kept the original framing in place and repurposed the bedrooms adding a lot of steel to reinforce floors where bathrooms replaced some of the many bedrooms. The original 3,200-square-foot house had six bedrooms and one bath. The house now has four bedrooms and five bathrooms.
The Lindseys also added an oversize, two-car garage in keeping with Colonial Revival Cottage style. Above the garage is a separate guest suite. The Lindseys’ son, Sam, (Class of ’16) is living there while attending classes at UNC.
In addition to original doors and flooring, the main house now holds a half-dozen Thomas Day furniture pieces acquired by the Lindseys. Day was a free black man and master cabinet maker (cabinetry made 1825-1861) in Milton. And as for those pesky Bulrushes, a mini-stand is now contained in an old well on the property thanks to the eradication efforts of Mark Keppler.