The Manor And Its Many Guests
The history of this house blends well with the residence at 604 Summit Avenue, as the family of Nellie (1854-1922) and Dr. John C. Clapp (1838-1910) family grew more prosperous and purchased a prominent lot on stylish Summit Avenue in which to erect their home around 1904. The original form of the house included a simple pyramidal roofline embellished with four dormer windows on each elevation. Within a few years, the house was greatly altered with a refashioned façade incorporated a gambrel roofline topped by an elliptical window. The design of the eye-catching façade was created by French-born architect Richard Gambier. Secondly, an earlier house possibly dating to the mid-1800s was relocated and attached to the rear of the house, adding a substantial amount of square feet. The original kitchen was converted into a study, and the new kitchen repurposed the added wing. This might have been done to accommodate the tastes of their distant cousin Ernest E. Clapp, the Clerk of the Guilford County Supreme Court. He and his wife Carrie lived in the house by 1910.
The house remained unchanged through the Great Depression when the property was purchased by Charles D. Kellenberger for his daughter Ruth Kellenberger Shea and her two children in 1938. Ruth’s husband Frank Shea died of acute appendicitis in 1926. The large house accommodated Ruth Shea and her sons, and also allowed her to rent rooms to travelers when she established the house as an inn named “Tarheel Manor”
The house was well suited for use as an inn, being situated on the main highway, known as the Seminole Highway that linked Virginia and points north to Florida. Shea converted the house into 16 guest rooms by subdividing the original large rooms, each with its own radiator, sink, closet, and a suite of simple furnishings. Ruth was an accomplished woman in her own right, as a prolific writer on travel and tourism, as well as living abroad and making movies that documented trips to exotic places such as the Amazon River in Brazil. She passed away around 1997.