People in the little waterfront town of Edenton, N.C. understand the meaning of community.
When its movie theater downtown needed a new projector system, they held fundraisers and dinners until they’d raised the $80,000 necessary to buy it. Now it’s owned by the town, which rents it to the theater for one dollar annually.
Even more impressive is the town’s response to Pembroke Hall, a classic Greek Revival home built in 1850 and foreclosed upon in 2010.
“We got a group together and raised $975,000 to buy and repair it,” says longtime Edenton resident Larry Sellers. “We fixed it up, painted it and brought it back to up to snuff.”
Local attorney Sambo Dixon, whose family arrived in Edenton when the town was settled in the early 18th century, helped organize the fundraising.
“My family lived across from it for 150 years,” he says. “I’ve been in and out of it all my life.”
It was built by Dr. Matthew Page, one of the Virginia Pages, the family that built Rosewell on the York River, one of the finest 18th-century homes in the colonies. Dr. Page and family lived at Pembroke Hall until the 1890s, then sold it. One of his great-granddaughters bought it back in the 1940s and called in Lynchburg architect Everette Fauber to restore it. She made it a centerpiece for the town.
Then came the Great Recession of 2010, and a fallen tree.
“I came home from church and one of Matthew’s beech trees had taken off two windows,” Dixon says. “We decided we had to resuscitate it. Otherwise, it would be torn down and the land subdivided into six lots. It’s the largest piece of property in town.”
Investors kicked up as little as $6,250 and as much as $100,000. But they raised the $975,000 needed to purchase it, and repair it in an eight-month time frame. The 35 partners formed an LLC to handle the investment.
“We raised it pretty quickly, paid the property taxes and helped the town,” says Vonna O’Neill, who handles special events there, like the 13 weddings now scheduled for 2014.
The impeccably preserved, 5,000 square-foot, five-bedroom property has been placed on the market with Sotheby’s International Realty, at $1.3 million.
It’s just waiting for the right buyer.
“We’re looking for someone to share it with the community – to open it up for tours and all kinds of civic events,” Dixon says. “It’s on the water, it’s not that expensive and they’d be buying it for the lifestyle.”
And for the sense of community too.
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