This lovely one-story Queen Anne house at 822 Rankin Place was built in 1901. It features a center-hall plan; a layout that consists of a wide central hallway flanked by two equal-sized rooms to each side. Center-hall plans were popular in nineteenth century rural North Carolina, which lends a “country farmhouse” appearance to the home. Its first occupants were newlyweds Lillian Alderman and John Edgar Mitchell, who served as vice president and general manager of the Greensboro Shade Company. Little is known of Mitchell, a business partner of Frank Boyles who abruptly sold his home and business in 1907 and left the city. The house was apparently purchased by Lillian’s sister-in-law Lou Alderman, wife of James Alderman, who lived there with their four young daughters: Mary Lou, Madge Alden, Marie Antoinette, and Alice Edwina. James Alderman was a bookkeeper for an insurance company. By 1930, the family had relocated to Gastonia, where they lived with their eldest daughter. Marie Antoinette married and stayed in the house. She was widowed at the age of 27 and remained until 1948.
The house stood vacant for several years until it was divided into apartments as an extension of the nearby Manor Motel. As the neighborhood around it declined, the house began to suffer from deferred maintenance and neglect. It was purchased by the nearby YMCA in 1967 with intent to demolish the house for parking lot expansion. In 1986 the derelict house was acquired from the YMCA by the College Hill Revolving Fund with the purpose of selling the house to homeowners with plans to make repairs. Leslie and David Milsaps bought the property and immediately began a careful restoration program that included restoring the two spacious parlors, wood moldings, and mantels to their original condition. In addition to repairing the front porch and wood windows, the couple returned a four-color paint scheme that was popular at the turn of the century. Today, this charming 112-year-old home and picket fence are a landmark in the College Hill neighborhood.
The Mitchell House and its gardens are house #1 on tomorrow’s Tour of Historic Homes and Gardens. The Tour will feature a total of ten vintage homes of the College Hill neighborhood. Plan to spend the weekend touring stunning homes of the nineteenth century that highlight interesting architecture, design ideas, and local history!
The Tour takes place rain or shine. College Hill is convenient to Tate Street eateries and shops. Parking for the tour can be found at the Royce Center, and a parking area at the corner of McGee Street and College Place. We hope to see you in College Hill!