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Fall 2016


in northwest Guilford County Unique requests from homeowners

Northwest Guilford County Treasures: Purgason's


Bi-Rite Galaxy



Prepare your yard to thrive next spring



Moore House rich with history


Find out who is the 'Best in the Northwest'


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Fall 2016

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You want me to

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A look at some of the unique features local builders are adding to homes by Annette Joyce When building a custom home, if it’s doable and within their budget, new homeowners often ask builders to create all sorts of unusual features. We talked to local builders to learn more about some of the requests they receive.

Hanging onto the past

Leslie and Chris Gunter and their partner, Jeff Cox, own Gunter Custom Homes based in Greensboro. One of the most unusual construction projects the company

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has ever been involved with took place last year, when they built a new house within 10 feet of the homeowner’s old house, which was eventually torn down. While it was a great project to work on, Leslie said it initially created quite a stir in the small McLeansville community where it is located. Built in 1876, the historic house had been an icon in the community and four generations of the same family had lived there.

“The current homeowners didn’t want to move, but the foundation of the old house was failing and it was just too expensive to repair and maintain,” Leslie said. The house was on family-owned land, so the homeowners compromised by building a new home in the shadow of the older one and incorporating items from the family homestead into their new abode. From their former home, they took such things as light fixtures, doors and door knobs. An old ladder from the home was used in the laundry room. When the neighbors first saw how close the new house was being built to the old house, Gunter said the phone began ringing. “We were getting calls from the com-

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Fall 2016

munity wanting to know what we were doing and why we were doing it,” said Gunter. “The neighbors didn’t want the house torn down.” The project was probably one of the most emotional she’s been involved with, Leslie said, but once the older home was torn down and the new house was completed, the homeowners were happy with their new living quarters.

A little thing, a bit difference

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the most impact. Don Mills of Don Mills Builders discovered this almost by accident.

Mills noticed the back walls of many pantries face the garage and homeowners often lug their groceries through a utility room or around kitchen counters to get to the pantry. It would be easier if people could just drive into their garages, open a little door on that back wall and deposit their groceries right into the pantry, he thought to himself. Mills first tried his theory out in a home he built in Greensboro’s Jessup Grove in 2009 by inserting a 30-by-24 inch door from the garage to the pantry. “People went crazy over it,” he said. In fact, they’ve gone so crazy over it that everyone is asking for him to install what’s since been dubbed the “Donnie door.” It’s even shown up on Pinterest and other buildPhoto courtesy of Gunter Custom Homes

There was a lot of attention from concerned neighbors when Gunter Custom Homes was asked to build a new home within a few feet of this homeowner’s existing home (right).

ers confess that many of their clients want them to add a “Donnie door” to their plans. Mills takes the popularity of his door in stride. “Everybody makes such a big deal out of a little bit of nothing,” he said with a chuckle. Another small convenience that can make a big difference is the Christmas light switch that Johnson and Lee offers its customers. “It’s a single switch that turns all the candles in the windows on at the front of the house,” said Commie Johnson, coowner of Johnson and Lee. Johnson said installation is easy and is done when the electrician wires the house. “We don’t do it on every house but we ask our customers if they’d like to have it done,” he said.

It’s a cultural thing

Michael and Paige Friddle, owners of Friddle and Company in Summerfield, have received numerous unique requests from customers who come from a different culture. The couple is currently building a home for a family from Thailand. “The homeowner asked for bidet sprayers in every bathroom,” said Paige Friddle. “Being from Thailand, he is accustomed to this feature.” Having worked with couples from China and India, the Friddles are also becoming well acquainted with Feng Shui and Vastu

continued on page 28



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Northwest Guilford County Treasure

Purgason’s: still going strong after 50 years Owner Cinda Whicker says old-fashioned customer service is key to longevity of her business by Annette Joyce

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Located near the crossroads of U.S. 220 and N.C. 150 on Auburn Road in Summerfield, Purgason’s Western Wear caters to those with a love of horses and all things Western. It’s the kind of place that invites you to come in, browse around or sit awhile and just enjoy the company. For over 50 years, this family-owned business has been an important presence in a community that was once populated with sprawling horse farms. Although most of those farms are gone, Purgason’s has survived and continues to attract customers from the Triad area and beyond. The business was born in the early 1960s, when Alphonse “Al” Purgason established Purgason’s Leather Products in the small shopping center adjacent to the store’s current location. A retired salesman for John Smith Leather Company, Purgas-

Photo by Annette Joyce/NWO

(336) 668-0854 8905 W Market St, Colfax Mon - Fri 10 am -5:30 pm • Sat 10 am -5pm


Fall 2016

Cinda Whicker purchased Purgason’s Western Wear in 1977. The store has been an important presence in Summerfield for over 50 years.

on liked to buy and sell scrap leather. Occasionally, customers would ask him to make belts. Then they began asking for holsters, halters and bridles. Soon, there were requests for boots, saddles, hats and Western wear. With the help of family and friends, whom he hired to help run the business and make leather products, Purgason spent the next 15 years establishing a viable operation. In 1977, he began toying with the idea of retiring – again. Meanwhile, Cinda Whicker was looking to change careers. The then 25-yearold Greensboro native was a physical education teacher at Salem Academy and while she loved teaching, she had a yearning to run her own business. Cinda said her dad, Dewey Whicker, an executive at Greensboro’s Odell Hardware Company, encouraged her. Thinking she needed a hardware store, he called his friend Al to see if there was any space in the shopping center that Purgason’s occupied. With retirement on his mind, Purgason offered to sell his store to Cinda if she was interested.

continued on page 29

Northwest Guilford County Treasure

Bi-Rite Galax y: alive and thriving Established in 1965, the family-owned business is still going strong by Annette Joyce It’s a Thursday afternoon and the parking lot at Bi-Rite Galaxy in downtown Stokesdale is full. Inside, customers crowd the aisles and line up to make their purchases at one of the store’s three cash registers. There’s a lot of laughing and joking as people catch up with neighbors before heading home for the evening. One or two customers linger a moment to find out how a neighbor is faring

or to exchange good-natured insults. David Wrenn, who owns the store along with his wife Kathy, is at the center of the chaotic activity – that is, until he sprints away to another part of the store to help a customer or meet a vendor. At a time when small family-owned grocery stores have fallen to larger chain stores, Wrenn has not only managed to turn his unassuming store into a viable operation, but a community hub as well. Sam Talbert opened the store, which sits on the corner at the intersection of U.S. 158 and N.C. 65, in 1965. Wrenn started working at the store 13 years later; at the time, he planned to stay a few

Photo by Annette Joyce/NWO | All of the Wrenn family, including Matt, (left) Jennifer and David, have had a part in making Bi-Rite a successful operation.

weeks and move on.

to work for Talbert more as a favor.

Fresh out of college and ready to embark on a career, Wrenn, who was then 23, had worked during his college years for Otto Zenke, a nationally-acclaimed interior designer in Greensboro. He came

“I didn’t want to work for someone else,” said Wrenn. “I really wanted to work outside in landscaping. I didn’t like the

continued on page 30

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Moore house has rich history From its vantage point at the corner of N.C. 150 and Linville Road, a house which was built in 1863 has seen many changes in the community by Jeannette Clay The vacant house at the corner of N.C. 150 (Oak Ridge Road) and Linville Road has had a front seat to what has undoubtedly been the biggest growth spurt in the town’s history. It was built by Ansalem Linch Moore (1809-1884), grandson of Camm Moore. Camm was a Quaker and a silversmith, but he is renowned for making precision surveying equipment, says Oak Ridge Town

Clerk Sandra Smith. His instruments have been found in Oak Ridge, and both the Greensboro Historical Museum and Old Salem’s Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts have them. One sold at auction in 2009 for $28,750. A blacksmith by trade, Ansalem was also Oak Ridge’s postmaster in 1866. He and his wife Leatha had 10 children, but Leatha died in 1863 – about the same year the log house was built, says Smith.

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Fall 2016

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Daughters Letitia, Louisa and Sarah never married. They lived with their father until his death, and remained in the house until probably about the 1930s. At some point, the log house was covered with clapboard siding. Later, the then-popular asbestos shingles were installed to protect and cut down on maintenance of the wooden structure. Rob and Danie Stafford bought the house for a rental property in 1941, and their descendents own it still. For about a half-century, Oliver and Evy Edwards rented from the Staffords.

Oliver, a charter member of the Oak Ridge Fire Department, was an avid antiques collector with a passion for auction sales. He died in 1992; Evy moved sometime afterwards, although she lived until 2007. Their daughter, Barbara York of Greensboro, remembers the house well. When her family moved into the house in the early 1940s, there was no running water or bathroom, and it was heated by an oil circulator, York says. Although there was an electric stove in the

continued on page 27

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What’s historic about the Oak Ridge Historic District


A lot! Oak Ridge boasts more than 50 historic sites on 400+ acres: • 37 historic buildings, including two National Register sites and the ORMA National Historic Landmark District. • 16 tracts of open land, including our Town Park, which was developed on 70+ acres once farmed by the Benbow and Stafford families. What’s the goal of the Historic District? To preserve our history while allowing for compatible growth. It’s essentially a balance between no change and drastic change.

What are the benefits of having a Historic District? It helps preserve Oak Ridge’s charm, livability, and unique historic character. And it’s good for business and local property values!

Why have Design Guidelines? To give guidance about what kinds of exterior changes are compatible with the historic character of our district. The Guidelines apply to the whole district – including what’s in between the historic buildings – to maintain its unique character.

What does the HPC do? The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) meets monthly (3rd Wednesdays, 7 p.m.) to review proposed changes in the Historic District. Both Town staff and the HPC are happy to help residents better understand the review process. The HPC also places historic markers and promotes preservation.

For more info, visit

Some of the major historic sites in the Oak Ridge Historic District (The map below shows just a portion of the over 50 sites!)

And the winners are... were exemplary in each of the 10 categories presented here.

Based on the buzz circulating around town, our recently launched “Best in the Northwest” contest was met with great enthusiasm. While other publications have offered similar contests, this was the first time the Northwest Observer had ever conducted a “Best” contest personalized to our readership area in northwest Guilford County.

We promoted the contest in our weekly newspaper, the Northwest Observer, and on our community Facebook page. Readers were invited to nominate businesses and individuals located in northwest Guilford County who they thought

Earlier this month, all the nominations we had received were presented to our readers, who were encouraged to vote on who they thought best represented our area in each category. We're happy to present the winners of our first “Best in the Northwest” contest, based on your nominations and your votes.

Congratulations to all of our winners as well as our nominees. You represent us well, and are part of what makes northwest Guilford County such a wonderful place to live and do business!

Kitchens • Baths • Additions Decks • Porches Custom Build New Construction


Fall 2016

Best CommunitySupportive Business

wrote one community member.

With 13.35 percent of the votes in this category, Lowes Foods comes away with the Best Community-Supportive Business title.

Best Place to Hang out with Friends

Lowes Foods, Oak Ridge

“Lowes Food never hesitates to help our local schools when asked,” one community member pointed out, while another wrote their reason for nominating the store – “Because (manager) Jeff Beane is awesome!” Honorable mentions in this category are The Northwest Observer, in second place, and Stokesdale’s Bi-Rite in third.

Best Community Event RidgeFest

An annual event hosted by Merchants of Oak Ridge, in partnership with the Town of Oak Ridge, RidgeFest received 24.99 percent of the votes in the Best Community Event category, thus taking the title. “Great annual event for the entire family that ends with fantastic fireworks display,"

Honorable mentions are Summerfield Founders’ Day in second place and Stokesdale Christmas Parade in third.

Oak Ridge Town Park Receiving 15.41 percent of the votes in this category, Oak Ridge Town Park wins the title of Best Place to Hang out with Friends. One community member wrote the park has “something for all ages – a wonderful playground for the kids, soccer and baseball fields for older kids and teens, well-maintained walking paths and clean restrooms.” Honorable mentions are Rio Grande Mexican Kitchen in second place and Bistro 150 in third; both are restaurants located in Oak Ridge Commons Shopping Center.

Best Local Builder

Tim Frazier Builders The winner in the Best Local Builder cat-

egory, Tim Frazier Builders, took first place in this category, with 17.35 percent of the votes.

Elected Official with 29.02 percent of the votes in this category.

“Tim Frazier is a top-notch builder. He will build a house as if he would live in it himself,” wrote one community member. “He is a hardworking, selfless guy ... He deserves to be recognized for all that he does to help others.”

Honorable mentions are Summerfield Mayor Mark Brown in second place and Stokesdale Town Council Member Vicki White-Lawrence in third place.

Honorable mentions are Disney Custom Homes in second place and Johnson & Lee, LLC in third.

Best Customer Service

Lowes Foods, Oak Ridge With 20.56 percent of the vote in this category, Lowes Foods in Oak Ridge Commons Shopping Center takes its second Best in the Northwest title, winning the Best Customer Service category. “(Lowes) employees are always willing to help with any questions and take the time to assist the customer," wrote one community member. Honorable mentions are Bi-Rite in Stokesdale in second place and Best 4K9's Oak Ridge store in third.

Best School Principal

Ralph Kitley, Northwest High School Not only was Ralph Kitley voted Best School Principal with 29.28 percent of the vote in this category, he also received the most votes for any nominee in any of our 10 categories! One community member who nominated Kitley wrote, “He truly cares for the students and their futures. He is the heart of Northwest High!" Honorable mentions are Denise Francisco of Oak Ridge Elementary School in second place and Meredith Chandler of Stokesdale Elementary School in third place.

Best Local Elected Official

Best Local Restaurant Rio Grande Mexican Kitchen, Oak Ridge

Rio Grande Mexican Kitchen took the title of Best Local Restaurant with 18.86 percent of the votes in this category. “The owner, Pepe, really makes this place great. He always remembers customers and makes everyone feel so welcome!” wrote one community member. Honorable mentions are Bistro 150, located in Oak Ridge Commons Shopping Center, in second place and Center Grove Grill, located in Summerfield, in third place.

Best Pet Care Provider King’s Crossing Animal Hospital, Stokesdale

King’s Crossing Animal Hospital, winner of the Best Pet Care Provider title, received 14.35 percent of the votes in this category. One community member shared, “(Dr. Fuller) is amazing and so friendly. She always makes me feel comfortable and is so loving towards my pets. I would drive for hours to see her if I had to! The staff is friendly and helpful as well!” Honorable mentions are Bark-N-Barber Dog Grooming, located in Stokesdale, in second place and Oak Ridge Animal Hospital, located in northwest Greensboro, in third place.

Best Medical Provider

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Dr. Rod Brown, Summerfield Family Chiropractic

Mark Walker

With 15.27 percent of the votes in this category, Dr. Rod Brown takes the title of Best Medical Provider.

A Stokesdale native and U.S. representative for North Carolina's 6th Congressional district, Mark Walker was voted Best Local

Honorable mentions are Oak Ridge Physical Therapy in second place and Summerfield Family Dentistry in third.

Fall 2016


Plant, prune and maintain this fall,

reap the benefits next spring by Laura Reneer Fall is upon us, and if you’re a gardener, the cooler temperatures and changing leaves provide a pleasant environment for tackling outdoor tasks. Admittedly, some of these tasks are more fun than others – I’ll take bulb planting over tree trimming any day – but taking the time for plant and tree maintenance will pay off in the long run. I’m always all ears for gardening tips and advice, so I checked in with some of our local pros to see what they had to share.

LAWN MAINTENANCE – NOW’S THE TIME! Let’s admit it – we’d all like to have a golf-course lawn, one where you can walk barefoot through lush, green grass. But it takes diligence. Our Carolina clay is not exactly turf-friendly, and to keep your grass thick and weed-free, regular maintenance is a must! Phil Stilson, general manager at New Garden Select, has over 20 years experience in keeping local lawns beautiful and


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Fall 2016

says annual aerating and over-seeding is essential to a healthy lawn. “Aerating enhances soil water uptake and oxygen uptake to the root system, and improves turf grass rooting,” Stilson says. “Fescue does not naturally fill in bare spots – new seeds need to be spread to fill in thin and bare areas.” If you’re fortunate to have a thick, weed-free lawn, you may not need to over-seed every year, but Stilson doesn’t recommend skipping the aerating process. “Aerating helps to de-compact our dense clay soil, giving grass a better environment for healthy roots that can withstand our summer heat and dry conditions,” he says. This fall maintenance must-do, along with a regular fertilizer and weed control program, will help keep your lawn ready for bare toes year-round.

BULBS – PLANT NOW, ENJOY NEXT SPRING Seeing tulips and daffodils pop through the soil in the spring is one of the early, exciting signs that your garden is coming back to life. But seeing those potentially beautiful blooms nibbled to the ground can cause any gardener’s blood to boil. Deer and rabbits just love those tender, sweet green shoots, and

since I am not one to keep up with the rodent repellant sprays, I’ve learned to plant whatever the critters won’t eat. Oak Ridge resident Dorothy Clement, who is a member and past president of the Oak Ridge Garden Club, has this advice for years of beautiful blooms: “Select the largest bulbs you can find. Big bulbs are packed with reserve food energy. They should be heavy and solid – lightness means a bulb has dried out, and softness indicates disease.” “Plant bulbs in welldraining soil (raised beds are great).” For our clay soil, it’s best to amend the soil with plenty of compost or soil conditioner. “Bulbs don’t like to be soggy – they prefer to be dry during their dormancy,” Clement says. She recommends avoiding bulbs that have started to sprout – this may be an indication they have been in storage too long. She also suggests choosing bulbs well-suited for our climate. “Try not to go against Mother Nature by ordering bulbs that originate in areas with totally different climate conditions than ours,” she advises. And to keep the four-legged pests from munching on your beautiful blooms? Clement’s advice is to plant “distaste-

continued on page 24

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Fall 2016 ade of Homes entries

Oct. 15-16 & 22-23 1-5pm

6308 Nesting Way, Oak Ridge Built to suit buyer selections

Should I stay or should I go? If you love your location, remodeling may be worth considering by Annette Joyce Is something just not right with your current home? Maybe it’s too small for your growing family, or the kitchen and baths are outdated. Could it be you don’t like the floorplan or you want more closet and storage space?

Photo provided by Greensboro Builders Association

In this home, Booe Building and Remodeling eliminated a wall between the kitchen and den and added an island to create a space perfect for cooking and entertaining.

While a lot of people might solve these issues by searching for a new home, remodeling your existing home might be a better alternative.

Location, location, location Ed Butler, who along with his wife, Debbie, owns Brickwood Builders in Greensboro, has spent the last 14 years helping people decide whether to remodel or build a new house. “It all has to do with a person’s intentions,” said Butler. “If they like where they are – a particular neighborhood or school district – selling and buying becomes a more difficult thing.” As an example, Butler references a recent customer who needed extra space

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but wanted to stay in the same neighborhood. They looked for a few months but were unable to find another house they liked better, so decided adding space to their home would be the best option.

of rooms?'” he said. “If they answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions, we suggest renovating instead of selling.”

Renovating their home required creativity, Butler said. “The lot was small, so there was no room to add on (to the side or back of the house). But there was a nice screened porch and we added a master suite above it.”

In transforming homes, local remodelers get a lot of similar requests. Alex Booe, co-owner/superintendent of Greensboro’s Booe Building and Remodeling, said a large amount of their work involves opening up small spaces and floorplans.

What was once a three-bedroom house with a bonus room was transformed into a five-bedroom, four-bath home and the homeowners ended up with a new master suite with oversized windows and a vaulted ceiling that offered the feeling of being in a treehouse.

“We take out a lot of walls to create open floorplans and we turn small areas into usable spaces,” he said. “We’ve turned small attic spaces into bonus rooms and a coat closet into an entryway nook.” Kitchens continue to be a popular focus of remodeling projects.

Jamie Bowlin, owner of JLB Remodeling in Summerfield, does both new construction and renovations and talks with potential customers to help them decide the best option.

“Sometimes a kitchen is just worn out,” said Scott Koehler, owner of Dream Kitchen Builders in Oak Ridge. “It’s where everybody hangs out. It’s really the heart of the home and people often want a more updated look.”

“We ask several questions – ‘Do you like your neighborhood? Do you like your neighbors? Do you like your school system? Do you like the home you currently have – the shape, size and number

Most popular updates

Koehler said one of the hottest kitchen products right now is Carrara marble, a high-quality white or blue-grey stone. “It’s one of the newest things for countertops and people love it,” he said. In general, Koehler said homeowners are going for a cleaner, more transitional look in the kitchen, and white Shaker-style cabinets are in vogue. Both Koehler and Booe noted LED lighting is also very popular.

continued on page 20

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Photo courtesy of Greensboro Builders Association

Workers finish installation of an LED light system in a recent kitchen remodel by Dream Kitchen Builders.

Fall 2016


Remodeling from page 19 “Kitchen designers didn’t previously have the control they now have with LED lighting,” said Koehler. “LED lights can be put underneath wall cabinets, inside glass cabinets and used in open shelves,” he said. “They’re not overly blue anymore and have warmer tones. They can also be controlled with remote controls.” During the recent Tour of Remodeled Homes, Ron Davis, owner of Outdoor Living Roomz in Greensboro, introduced a new way to add space and enhance enjoyment of indoor/outdoor living. Davis’ solarium-like additions are usable 365 days a year and feature full-view powder-coated garage doors which disappear into the ceiling and automated Phantom screens that provide protection from bugs without taking away from the view. Want to update your flooring? Booe said more people are going with wood plank tile versus traditional wood floors.

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Living Roomz

Bring the outdoors in with this addition by Outdoor Living Roomz, which features full-view garage doors that disappear into the ceiling.

“The tile won’t expand and contract like wood and it’s more durable and easier to clean,” he said. Main floor living is still popular, especially as the population ages, Bowlin said. In houses with the master on the second level, JLB Remodeling has built a lot of first-floor master additions.

“For people who like their location and have family still coming in, they’re not ready to downsize but they don’t want to do the stairs every day,” he said. “This allows them to live on the first floor and gives them a double master.”

Moving? Forget the major remodel Butler said he has talked with numerous people who think they should remodel their home before putting it on the market.

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door and installing a steel entry door. Adding an extra bathroom or remodeling an existing one will produce the least amount of value; that’s followed by upscaling a master suite or adding a deck. Though remodeling as an investment is often not advisable, Butler notes that known problems such as worn-out roofs or termite damage should be corrected. Although Bowlin works with many people who do upgrades and renovations before putting their home on the market, he advises homeowners to be cautious about the extent of the projects they undertake.

“I hear people say they want to enlarge or remodel their house to make more money when they sell it. It doesn’t make good sense when someone is trying to remodel as an investment,” he said. “They should just keep the money.”

“It would be smart to work with an industry professional who understands what you’re trying to achieve,” he said. “You need to do a select amount of work to make the house sellable.”

Based on Remodeling Magazine’s “2016 Cost vs. Value Report,” very few remodeling projects will recoup the seller’s investment, let alone provide additional profits. The top remodeling projects, which tend to lean more toward maintenance, are relatively small in nature.

Bowlin also suggested veering away from both the cheapest and the most expensive products when you’re preparing your house for sale. “Look for economical products that are good quality and have great durability,” he said.

According to the report, adding attic insulation will net a 116.9-percent return on investment. Projects bringing in a 90-percent or more return include: adding manufactured stone veneer siding to a home’s exterior, replacing the garage

Once you’ve decided that remodeling your home is the best option, be sure to talk with professionals and do your research. That can make all the difference between a home you love and one that simply meets your basic needs.

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'A diamond in the rough' Couple transforms a small, neglected house into a spacious dream home with a lake view by Patti Stokes Transitioning from fast-paced jobs and living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. to retirement living in a quiet rural neighborhood in North Carolina took several years, but as they sit at a large island in the center of an open, modern kitchen from their home which overlooks Hillsdale Lake in Summerfield, Tim and Shirley Shanahan agree the time, effort and money they invested to get here have been well worth it.

Shirley and Tim Shanahan enjoy the backyard view of Hillsdale Lake from their newly remodeled home in Summerfield call to a Realtor they had connected with years earlier to see if she had any houses they could look at in person. They had two top priorities for their next home: it must overlook water – and it must be within a 30- to 45-minute drive of their children and grandchildren. The Realtor showed them three houses; from one they could see a lake at a distance through the trees, and another was at the very end of a lake and had a

Photo & Graphics: Hue & Tone

With all four of their adult sons living in Guilford County, the couple knew they wanted to someday move to be closer to them. In March 2011, on one of their trips south for a visit, they made an impromptu

Photo by Patti Stokes/NWO

The Realtor told them the small house in the Hillsdale Lake neighborhood had been on the market for one-and-a-half years and the owner had passed away. She also told them neither the house nor the yard were in the best shape, though Shirley said that didn’t prepare them for what they saw when they pulled up in the driveway. The couple later found out the neighbors referred to the house as “sad,” and they couldn’t have agreed more. Still, as they looked past it and into the back yard, they glimpsed a 30-plus acre lake – and they loved what they saw. While Shirley headed inside with the Realtor, Tim and their son, Kevin, walked around to the back yard. “There was barely any grass,” Tim said. “Then I started counting trees and Kevin asked me what I was doing. I said, ‘I think we might put a contract on this house.’” When Tim looked at Shirley expectantly as she came out of the house, he said she made an “awful” face. But when he asked her about putting a contract on it, she readily agreed.


swampy back yard. It was the second one they looked at that grabbed their attention.

Fall 2016

“Even as nasty as the kitchen was, I could look past that,” Shirley said. “I knew what our property at Ocean City had been like,” referring to the beach condo she and Tim had purchased years earlier which the previous owners had rented out for 20

years without any maintenance or updates. They agreed this house was a "diamond in the rough,” with "the diamond being the lake and the house the rough.” Tim never walked inside the house until they closed on it about six weeks later. “I just looked in the windows and said, ‘it needs paint and some other things – no big deal,’” he said. Through a friend of one of their daughter-in-laws, Todd Payne of Stokesdale-based Renovation Works came highly recommended and the Shanahans scheduled a meeting to walk the house with him. “I’ve seen a lot of properties in distress,” Payne said as he recalls that first walkthrough. “The first thing in my mind was ‘neglect.’ I saw where there had been water penetration and I knew it was going to be a big challenge. I also knew within 10 minutes that I wanted to work with these people.” As for that “neglect,” the concrete floor in the garage was falling in, there was mold creeping up along some of the baseboards, the house had not been updated since it was built in the ‘60s, windows were missing glass, and there was no air conditioning, just for starters. "But I could see the potential in the house – the lines were straight, the roof lines were straight, and it had ‘good bones,'” Payne said.

Between "wants," "musts" and unforseen challenges that surfaced, Shirley and Tim began to grasp the scope of the

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The house that Tim and Shirley Shanahan purchased in 2011 (top) is no longer recognizable after extensive renovations were completed over a period of five years. journey they had embarked on and asked Payne if the renovation project could be done in phases; the first phase was to make the house “livable” – i.e., address the mold and the water damage to the garage’s foundation, update the kitchen and install air conditioning. With the couple's retirement still about five years away, three of their sons took turns living in the house and caring for it while it was being brought back to life. Knocking down walls, remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms, converting the garage into a master bedroom – and adding a gorgeous living room with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the lake were all done in phases, as was replacing the deck on the back of the house, building stone walls and a patio leading up to an indoor/ outdoor kitchen, landscaping, adding a new front porch, driveway and a two-and-

a-half-car garage, an under-deck patio area in back … and the list goes on and on. Fast forward to today and you’ll find the Shanahans settling into both retirement and their beautiful surroundings. The sad, 1,250-square-foot house they purchased over five years ago has been expanded to 2,360 square feet of beautiful, modern living space with breathtaking views from various vantage points on the upstairs level. On the lower level, they have plans for another 1,250 square feet to be turned into a recreation area. “It makes me so happy," Shirley said. "We wanted everything we didn’t have in our previous house, and we wanted a fun, spacious place that our children and grandchildren want to come to. I don’t regret any of the investment we made, because we got more than we ever expected. We nailed it!”

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Fall gardening from page 14 ful or poisonous bulbs like daffodils, allium and fritillarias.” You can mix these in with tulips if you like – the unpleasant smell will deter the critters and send them searching for a more appetizing meal (hopefully outside your yard!). Clement also has another tip – “A handful of sharp, crushed gravel in each hole surrounding the bulb seems to help discourage voles from burrowing and finding your tasty tulip bulbs.”


Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. The cooler, but not freezing temperatures allow them to get acclimated before winter sets in, and is less

stressful than if planted during the hot, dry summer months. One other bonus to planting this time of year – plants are often cheaper in the fall, when nurseries and garden centers may cut prices to clear out inventory before winter. And in my experience, gardeners are by nature frugal folks and love a good bargain! Joe Lyons, owner of Arbor Masters Tree Service, was glad to share his expertise on this topic. He confirms the best reason to plant in the fall is that new trees and shrubs are easier to maintain in the cooler months, won’t need constant watering, and will have an easier time getting established without the summer heat. Fall is also a great time to inspect


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trees for signs of stress or disease, Lyons says. Dead limbs, bark laying in the yard, evidence of discoloration in the bark, or mushrooms around the base of the trunk are all warning signs. “Sometimes it’s hard to detect damage – these things are a sure sign of rot and disease, and should not be ignored,” says Lyons. Pruning is also necessary maintenance for healthy trees. “We had an exceptionally rainy spring, which produces overgrown limbs and branches,” says Lyons. “That’s a risk for major damage if we get an ice storm.” Those overgrown limbs should be pruned in the fall, and all trees should be inspected and pruned every five years. Much better to keep your trees in a healthy state with regular pruning and inspections than to let a heavy layer of ice or undetected disease

bring down whole limbs, or even the entire tree. Lyons says he thinks of trees as just giant plants – “You’ve got to take care of them.”

YOUR FRIENDLY GARDEN RESIDENTS Birds and butterflies are one of my favorite perks of gardening. I could watch those zany, hyperactive little hummingbirds chase each other around the feeders for hours! While hummingbirds will migrate south soon, many birds will still need food and water throughout the winter. Keep the bird feeders filled, and chip the ice off the bird bath when needed. A little southern hospitality for your feathered friends throughout the winter will make yours the most popular garden hangout come spring.

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What do I have in common with James Bond? Sure, he’s an international spy and I’m a Realtor, but we both place a distinct value in our ability to deliver. Like Bond, I’m a results-driven person focused on adding value through structure and accurate execution. I just do it in the real estate arena. In this ever-changing industry, I’m constantly searching to provide the most innovative and strategic service possible. Just call me Hess. Nancy Hess.

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Phillip Stone Broker/Realtor (336) 643-4248 office

Finding your roots. That’s what I help people do. It’s not just about finding that perfect house, but finding a home that provides a lifestyle and a place for a family to grow together. A North Carolina native, I’ve lived in the Triad region – Greensboro, Oak Ridge and northwest Guilford County – where living is all about family. Homes are more than just bricks and mortar, and it’s my honor to be involved in such an important process. Let me help you find your roots!

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Moore house from page 10 kitchen, a wood-burning cook stove also warmed that portion of the house. Despite the simple dwelling, York says she didn’t feel like she was missing out. “I just walked to school, which was right across the road, and I learned to skate; Linville Road right there across the road was concrete. We also skated on the front porch at the school.” Riding her bicycle on N.C. 150 was a favorite pastime, and Barbara recollects attending baseball games and the Oak Ridge Horse Show on the school grounds. In cooler weather, she recalls “Nappy” Watkins and his son, Richard Watkins, the school’s custodians, in the boiler room under the school loading the furnace with coal so the steam radiators would keep students warm.

Bud Blaylock, who grew up where the State Employees’ Credit Union is now, both recall a story about the well at the house. Since the well was located right along the most prominent road through Oak Ridge, people would sometimes stop during their journey, drop in the wooden bucket and crank the windlass to draw out a cool drink. Legend has it that soldiers walking home from the Civil War did just that.

After Evy Edwards moved, efforts were made to update the house, and a new tenant was found. But so were termites. The house was treated, and the owner, who prefers that his name not be disclosed, says he made great strides updating the house, remodeling the bathroom, and painting – spending about $30,000 on the effort. But while working on the floor molding in a downstairs Ansalem Moore “I wouldn’t take anybedroom, a hammer strike built the house at thing for growing up that broke through the base of 2102 Oak Ridge Road way,” York says of living in a the wall as well as the floor about 1863. It is one simpler time in Oak Ridge’s of Oak Ridge’s most below. As he pulled up the history. “I think it makes you historic houses. floorboards, he learned appreciate life.” that the wood-eating varmints were back – with a vengeance. At some point, the Staffords' grandson – who now owns the property – says Once the extent of the damage was learned, he says he just stopped the his father offered to install a bathroom work. He hasn’t returned. in the house. But since that would have required a rent increase, Edwards politely The house on the corner now stands declined, opting instead to keep the silent – it’s unknown what may hap“Johnny house.” A bathroom was added pen to it, but perhaps a new owner will to the house in the 1960s. someday return it to its earlier promiYork and former Oak Ridge resident

nence on the Ridge.


Fall 2016


Photo by Annette Joyce/NWO


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Dubbed the “Donnie door,” this small door, which allows people to place groceries directly into their pantries from the garage, has become a must-have for many new homeowners.

Unique requests from page 6 Shastra. “(These principles) promote harmony and a smooth flow of energy, as well as focus on room placement and building orientation for areas like south-facing bedrooms and northeast-facing prayer rooms,” Friddle explained.

Going to the dogs

At R&K Custom Homes, Kathy Dumas, who owns the company with her husband Rich, says she receives a lot of requests for features that cater to a family’s canine kids, such as cozy dog houses in the space underneath a staircase, food and water bowls built into the base of bookshelves and little doggie beds that are hidden in cabinets. “Some are like murphy beds that flip out, similar to the way a dishwasher door folds down,” said Dumas. “Others are drawers that pull out.”

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Fall 2016

Dumas said customers are also requesting dog showers which are usually installed in the laundry. And the really pampered pets? They’re getting their own rooms with access to the outdoors.

Specific purpose rooms

While some people relish multi-purpose rooms, others want a dedicated space for their hobbies and interests. Friddle is currently working on a home that includes a “train room.” The owner enjoys building model trains and planes and he wanted a space to devote to his hobby.

The room includes a kitchenette equipped with a sink, dishwasher and microwave. Paint colors, light fixtures and

hardware have been selected to give the room the appearance of an old train station. Friddle and the homeowner are searching for an old-style train station clock to complete the look. To accommodate visitors and give the appearance of a sleeping car, the Friddles added three bunk beds that extend horizontally down a 20-foot wall. “Each has its own light fixture and there are two drawers underneath the bed,” Friddle said.

The luxury pantry

Traditionally just a functional place to store canned goods and other sundries, the pantry is taking on a more important role in the kitchen. Dumas said customers are requesting bigger pantries – some as large as 8-by-10 feet. Along with storage shelves, these pantries feature cabinets and granite countertops and many have been designed to house a second refrigerator. These luxury pantries give the homeowner a place to store items that are not often used, such as the large roasting pan for holidays, standup mixer and blender. It can also be a place to set up the toaster or coffeemaker. “This type of pantry gets the clutter off the countertop,” said Dumas. “There’s nothing worse than walking into a home and seeing countertops filled with clutter.” Mills said some people are also adding motion lights to the pantry and having hidden doors installed that look like part of the cabinets rather than a traditional pantry door.

chandise is key to the business’s longevity.

Purgason's from page 8

“The brands we carry are the best and most respected in the industry,” said Cinda. “The selection we offer is unmatched and growing every day, and our expertise and experience in all things Western, English and equestrian remains unsurpassed.”

Although Cinda knew nothing about the industry at the time, her dad thought it would be a good move. “I trusted my dad’s instincts because he was a visionary,” she said. With help from her parents, she purchased the business and showed up for work right after Christmas in 1977. Although she lacked any industry knowledge or business experience, Cinda was more than willing to learn. Gladly jumping right into retirement, Purgason didn’t stay around too long to train his predecessor. Fortunately, however, he left behind some very capable teachers; one of them was his grandson, Don Purgason. “Don was only 16, but he had been working with his grandfather for a long time and knew everything about the business,” said Cinda. Virginia Nail, whose husband worked in the shop doing leather work, was another mentor. “Both (she and Don) were very good at getting me used to the environment,” recalled Cinda. That environment was completely different from today’s computerized store. “We had a brass cash register that didn’t work except for the cash drawer,” she chuckled. “We wrote out every ticket by hand.” The integration of technology isn’t the only thing that has changed over the years. In the beginning, the store carried mostly tack and saddles. As the cowboy craze evolved, Cinda started adding more boots and clothing; so much so that the store was running out of space. When the five-acre property next door

Perhaps most important is the expertise and experience that Purgason’s has consistently offered. Cinda’s sister, Margot Donnell, has worked at the store for 36 years. Two more employees have been at Purgason’s for over 18 years each.

Photo by Sean Gentile/NWO

Purgason’s exterior was designed to resemble the famous Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. became available in the late 1980s, Cinda purchased it and began the process of building a new store. In 1992, Purgason’s moved into the present 6,000-square-foot facility which has an exterior reminiscent of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Inside the store, there are a few items left over from the early days – the horses that gallop above the front door, a trio of stuffed foxes decked out in riding gear and a couple of paintings hanging in the storage room. Those are simple reminders of the past that blend nicely with the spacious, updated environment. The interior of the store is rustic and overflowing with an array of products to make any equestrian or country lover happy.

noisseur’s dream and one of the product lines that keeps bringing customers back. On the other side of the store, you’ll find gear for both English and Western style riding. At the back, there are saddles, tack and equestrian supplies. Scattered in between are a variety of jewelry and novelty items. This large selection and quality of mer-

A daughter of one of those employees now works part-time at the store and her 8-year-old granddaughter, who has been a regular in the store since she was 6 weeks old, dreams of being part of the Purgason’s family of employees one day. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people who work with me,” said Cinda. “We’re very customer service-oriented and take the time needed to make sure our customers are satisfied. I think the reason that we’ve been here for more than 50 years is that we still do a lot of things the way they were done originally.”

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Fall 2016


Bi-Rite from page 9 idea of being confined.” Thirty-eight years later, Wrenn can be found bustling around the store and loving every minute of it. Along the way, Bi-Rite has become a town icon and a testament to the ingenuity and perseverance that local, family-owned companies need in order to compete in today’s marketplace. What’s the secret to Bi-Rite’s longevity? “We do the things that people don’t expect us to do,” said Wrenn in his perpetually upbeat fashion. “We really listen to our customers and work hard to give them what they want.” Providing “above and beyond” service is at the foundation of the store’s success. The staff is more interested in building relationships with customers than just selling them groceries and other merchandise. It’s evident when a customer enters the store. Simply put, these are friendly folks and the atmosphere is more in line with an old-timey general store. Wrenn’s love of people plays a key role

in how he operates the business. He said his wife often chastises him about “having to talk to everybody.” Whether friends, acquaintances or strangers, he can’t help himself, and will strike up a conversation with anyone. He also has a passion for helping other people and notices when someone might need attention.

Photo by Annette Joyce/NWO

Established in 1965, Bi-Rite is a landmark in downtown Stokesdale.

With that kind of awareness, Wrenn has discovered numerous ways to provide services and products that his competitors don’t provide. For example, he mentioned the store’s stew package. “This time of year, everyone is having stews, mostly as fundraisers,” he said. “We put together a package including fresh meat, vegetables and containers to help the groups save time and money. They just call ahead and everything’s ready when they arrive.” Special orders are the norm in the meat department, which isn’t a surprise considering the store has a reputation for the freshest meats in the area. You won’t find very many pre-packaged products, and most

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of the meat is cut fresh every day, even on Sundays. People drive from miles around to buy their meat at Bi-Rite because they know they can count on a higher quality product and an exceptional level of service. Bi-Rite also carries fresh seafood that comes in every Thursday. “We can get most any kind of seafood – shrimp, oysters, clams, swordfish, salmon – straight from the coast,” he said. “We do special orders. Just let us know by Monday.” Because freshness is critical, Bi-Rite produces its own line of sandwich spreads and slaws. Pimento cheese, chicken salad, coleslaw and barbeque slaw are made onsite with the freshest ingredients possible. “And, there’s the low-calorie homemade banana pudding,” Wrenn said with a grin, admitting he is joking about the low-calorie part. During the regular season, Wrenn employs about 35 people. That number goes up to around 40 in the summer when business picks up because of traffic going to and from nearby Belews Lake. Along with his long-time employees, Wrenn hires local high school students and a few college students. Starting at the age of 14, all six of Wrenn’s children worked at the store at some point. His son, Matt, stayed on to become the meat market manager and his daughter, Jennifer, is now the IT manager. The third generation of Wrenns stands


Fall 2016

ready to join the family business. Wrenn’s 14-year-old granddaughter, Anna Cotrona, worked during the store’s recent Community Day and is “dying to work the cash register,” he said. Besides service and product quality, Wrenn is also committed to community involvement. Instrumental in the conception of Stokesdale-based Good Samaritan Ministries’ food pantry, Wrenn works closely with the organization to help provide food for area residents in need. And the fact that the store donates cases of bananas to Camp Carefree during its summer sessions has earned him the name “Banana Man.” A few years ago, Wrenn started a Community Day in which Bi-Rite showcases local vendors and gives them the opportunity to share their wares with residents. As part of that event, he brings in the Got to Be NC Big Cart, a 13-foot-tall by 15-foot-long shopping cart equipped with a Chevrolet 396 V-8 engine. The first event was so popular that Wrenn made it an annual happening and is considering doing it twice a year. Wrenn also finds time to help serve meals at a homeless shelter in Greensboro and is a faithful supporter of the American Red Cross. Wrenn and his wife have been married 39 years and live in Greensboro. They have six children, ages 21 to 36, and seven grandchildren ages 5 to 14. When he’s not busy racing around the store, Wrenn enjoys working outside.

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