Kim Crenshaw and Larry Henson fell in love with the old house right away.
When they moved to Apex from Florida in 1998, the couple was looking for a big house to rent. They got lost and turned around in the driveway of what is now their home, and they noticed a for-rent sign out front.
They knew it was the house for them, but they couldn’t afford it. So Henson worked out a deal with the owner: Henson would do some work on the home in exchange for more affordable rent.
Two years into their five-year lease, the owner got a lucrative offer from a development company who wanted the land but had no interest in the home.
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Crenshaw and Henson were worried that they’d be forced out of their home. But instead, they got to keep the house – for free – under one condition: They had to move it.
“They said, ‘If you tear up the lease, we’ll just give you the house.’ So we just really hit the jackpot,” Henson said.
So the couple put the 2,800-square-foot house, built in 1929, on a massive truck and moved it across town. Now it sits on 3 acres of land a few hundred feet over the Chatham County line on N.C. 751.
In the new space, with 100-year-old oaks in front and a pine forest, chicken coop and 19th-century tobacco barn in the back, they expanded the home to 4,500 square feet and renovated the existing spaces while trying to keep the original architecture and charm.
And Crenshaw embarked on a business venture in the home. She runs Kim Crenshaw Photography there.
Now the couple is packing up and selling the home. It’s on the market for $1.2 million.
Crenshaw, a well-known photographer who has taught classes and shot portraits for local families for years, said it was bittersweet to put the house up for sale.
But she’s also excited for their new project – moving to the Caribbean to start a photo business in the French colony of St. Martin.
The decision to move was the right one, she said, but it was still tough.
“I remember standing at the dining table one day and thinking, ‘I can’t imagine not growing old here,’ ” Crenshaw said. “It was home to me. And I was a military brat growing up, so I moved around a lot and never really had a home. So that’s saying a lot.”
A storied past
The home has a long history in Apex. Henson said it was built by a man known as Doc Bryant, Apex’s first dentist.
Many older folks in town had their teeth cared for in what is now the sun room of the house.
The home has been part of local historical tours and also garden and Christmas tours, Henson said.
The house also attracted the attention of filmmakers and has served as the setting for three films, including one that made it to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
Al Garcia, a real-estate agent who’s trying to sell the home, said he envisions a buyer turning it into a bed and breakfast or wedding reception venue. The property is zoned for commercial use.
Meanwhile, Crenshaw promises that she and her husband – and her business – won’t be gone from Apex forever. They plan to find a smaller home here for the spring and fall, while escaping to the beach in the summer and winter.
Starting a new business in a foreign country will be a challenge, but Henson said they’re used to challenges. After all, he said, they had many chances to give up in the process of getting, keeping, moving and expanding their home. But they kept fighting for it.
“You have to have vision,” he said. “We look at things and don’t think about all the things that won’t work. We think, ‘Well, how are we going to make it work?’ ”