complete with a loft and flower boxes at the windows. The playhouse is the scene for tea parties with special guests, like the brown stuffed bear who sits at the tiny table, waiting for the party to begin. At the very back center of the yard is a single bench where the Azalea Festival queen was photographed and the Lewis family now refers to it as the “queen’s bench.” But the Azalea queen isn’t the only celebrity to have visited the home. “Dr. Williams told us that back in the late 50s or sometime in the 60s, when the house appeared frequently on the garden tour, Ronald Reagan stood in the yard. He was still an actor and was dating the Azalea queen. Now that story is part of the house’s history,” says Meredith. This year, the house was once again on the garden club tour. In fact, it was the site of the ribbon-cutting. Even the children gave tours. The house itself is commodious with approximately 5,000 square feet of living space, plus a floored attic with its own cedar closet, and a full basement for storage. “We have to be careful not to fill the house to capacity,” notes Meredith. Not always easy for a collector, she admits. Scattered throughout the home are old leather books, Staffordshire dogs, salt cellars, sea glass, Blue Willow china, and old rolling pins. The rolling pins are displayed in the Lewises’ newly remodeled kitchen, a spacious area with floor-to-ceiling cabinets and a long island with marble countertops where the children do their homework or put together jigsaw puzzles, help chop vegetables from the garden and make cookies. “We spend a lot of time here, so we wanted it to be comfortable,” says Meredith. “It’s been nice to make the kitchen ours.” When the Lewis family first moved to Wilmington, they wanted to find the right house to make “theirs.” But that’s hard to do, when the perfect house isn’t on the market. “We drove past the house and looked at each other,” Meredith recalls. “We knew it was the house for us, knew right away. We backed the car up and knocked on the door of Peter and Elise Ruffin. We told them we loved their home and would like to buy it. It was perfect timing because they were thinking of selling. The house never did go on the market. And, when people would introduce us, it was always ‘Meet the Lewises-they-bought-Peter-and-Elise’s-house,” says Meredith, smiling at the memory.
Salt • November 2013
“We drove past the house and looked at each other,” Meredith recalls. “We knew it was the house for us, knew right away.” The Art & Soul of Wilmington
The Art & Soul of Wilmington