New siding, landscaping and a 2,400-square-foot addition are among the renovations planned by the new operators of the historic Wagner House in downtown Clayton.
Paul and Dawn Black, who got the keys in December, say they want to broaden the house’s uses and better honor its history. The house dates back to the early 1900s and has become a popular venue for wedding ceremonies and receptions.
“It’s time for the house to take a step forward and in some ways a step back,” Paul said while sitting at a cloth-covered table topped with hydrangeas in the sun room.
By taking a “step back,” he means taking care of the things that make it historic. The couple have already repainted most of the home’s interior and the front porch that overlooks Main Street.
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They’ve also redesigned the rooms that grooms and brides use before getting hitched.
Their long-term plan includes replacing the home’s existing vinyl siding with a material that better resembles its original appearance. The Blacks also want to build a 2,400-square-foot addition onto the backside of the house facing Second Street.
Landscape improvements and removing a wall separating the dining room and sun room are also on the list.
“We look at ourselves as stewards of the home,” Dawn said.
“We want to make sure it is here for a long time,” Paul added.
To help the house take a “step forward,” the Blacks will look to host more than just weddings. Wedding-related events will still be the focus, they said, but the setting is also suited for civic, family and corporate functions.
Paul said they will market the home’s appeal online and through traditional forms of advertising. However, face-to-face conversations with locals are just as important, if not more so, he said.
They’ve had those personal interactions since moving in, as former residents have dropped by to check out their plans.
“We’ve asked people who’ve lived in the house to share their stories so we can do a legacy display of some kind in the future,” Dawn said.
The Blacks, who live in Clayton, own My Girlfriend’s Place, a spa on First Street. They were approached by Kelly Norman, who formerly operated the house, about buying the property. They also talked with the owners, Brenda and McGowen Avent.
Paul said they were hesitant at first. But the more they visited and researched the home, the more they loved it.
“The business side worked, but the passion we have for the house, Clayton and the industry pushed us over the edge,” Paul said.
They entered into a lease-purchase contract with the Avents.
John Wesley Massey, a Southern Railway station master, built the house in 1912 on land his wife Lula inherited from her family, which owned Thurston Freight Co. Dawn said she’s already heard a long list of stories about theproperty, including the tale about Union soldiers camping there during the Civil War.
She can’t wait to hear more.
For more information about the home, go to www.wagnerhouseclayton.com.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104