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Property Details: Upchurch-Williams House     

Property Details: Upchurch-Williams House
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Property Information
Upchurch-Williams House
7213 Roberts Road
Cary, NC
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Price: $549,000
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 1
Square Feet: 3,549
Lot Description/Acreage:
5.5 wooded acres
Year Built:
Architectural Style:
Colonial Revival
Contact Information
Name: Jeremy Bradham
Agency: Capital Area Preservation, Inc.
Phone: 919-833-6404
Email: Send an email...
Website: Visit the website...
    Historic real estate listing for sale in Cary, NC
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Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Cary, NC Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Cary, NC
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Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Cary, NC Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Cary, NC
Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Cary, NC Click for a larger image! Historic real estate listing for sale in Cary, NC
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Property History
The transitional Queen Anne-Colonial Revival-style Upchurch-Williams House was built around 1905 in rural White Oak Township in western Wake County. Apex-area farmer Golden Almon Upchurch Jr., who was born and raised in the area, erected it in his mid-forties after decades of farming here. He left the house and some surrounding land to his daughter, Zola Upchurch Williams, who lived in it with her family.

The house remained in the Williams family until 2015, when Capital Area Preservation (CAP) acquired the building after it was threatened with demolition. The organization relocated the dwelling to a triangular 5.5-acre parcel down Roberts Road to the south. The land was historically part of Upchurch’s holdings. Although the new location fronts the same road, the house now stands on its opposite side.

The Upchurch-Williams House was likely built around 1905, based on its architectural style and resemblance to other dwellings in the area. Golden Almon Upchurch Jr. presumably had the house built for his family, which consisted in 1900 of his wife, his two teenaged daughters, and his mother-in-law. We have no information about his previous dwellings, however, or why he chose to build this house when and where he did. The following history is largely based on deeds, census records, and oral history of and comparison to other houses in the rural neighborhood. Kelly Lally’s The Historic Architecture of Wake County, North Carolina supplies excellent context for the dwelling’s history and architecture.

White Oak Township, formed in 1868 in southwest Wake County, was home to a collection of yeoman farmers from at least the mid-1800s. An relatively well-off farmer was from that period was Golden Almon Upchurch Sr. (1815-1893). In 1860, the elder Upchurch’s land was valued at $750 and his personal estate at $6,149. He worked his land and ran his household with the labor of four enslaved people as well as his eldest son. He sent his many children to school and served as a postmaster at Green Level as early as 1850, before formation of the township. By 1880, his farming operation was undoubtedly much smaller and was focused on corn, cotton, and sweet potatoes on sixty tilled acres. He had livestock as well and kept 78 wooded acres.

Agricultural practice evolved to the more widespread production of market crops by the turn of the twentieth century. The area saw an influx of bright-leaf tobacco farmers looking for good land in the 1880s after the tobacco wilt had hit Granville County to the north. As farmers migrated south they brought their favored crop to the area. The Chatham Railroad had recently come through the area and by the early twentieth century, Apex had become a tobacco market town.

Postmaster Upchurch’s namesake son Golden Almon Upchurch Jr. (1860-1929) was part of this transition. He was attending school and farming with his father as 20-year old in 1880, when the farm still grew cotton but no tobacco. He was the last of his parents’ children still living with them. The younger Upchurch married Ann Eliza Harwood in Wake County in the spring of 1882. The following January, he purchased a fifty-acre tract from his parents for $150. The deed describes the land as “adjoining A. C. Council, A. B. Upchurch, and others” in Wake County. According to the 1880 census, these men were neighbors of his father, who lived northwest of the Green Level area of White Oak Township. In 1883, G. A. Upchurch Jr. deeded a small portion of his land to the Public School Committee for District 2 in White Oak Township in 1883. A number of neighbors with land bordering each other also contributed, and the resulting one-acre parcel was reserved for construction of a school for African American students. The donation, like Upchurch’s lineage, speaks to his ties to the rural community. Both father and son are listed in 1890 as Apex-area farmers.

In July 1893, G. A. Upchurch bought a tract of land southeast of Green Level from the W. A. Ellingtons totaling 119 acres. The parcel lay “adjoining the lands of Jack Wimberly, Seth Broadwell, Brontenes Boling, J. E. Council, and others” and cost Upchurch $730.55. The tract description mentions a stake “on the west side of Raleigh Road” as well as a small branch at Seth Broadwell’s corner. This is likely the White Oak farm referred to in the 1900 census; those records document that G. A. Upchurch Jr. owned the farm outright. By then, he and Anne Eliza lived with their two children, Lessie, age 16, and Zola, age 14. Upchurch’s mother-in-law Fannie H. Harward also lived with the family. Zola attended Cary High School in 1900.

For some reason, the 1893 purchase was not recorded until 1903. When it was, a another deed was also recorded, describing very nearly the same tract of land. The tract described in the new deed included just four additional acres and listed the purchase price as $40 more than the older deed. This second deed also exempted the “wood and timber an about two acres” for five years for the continued use by the Ellingtons. The reason for the delayed recording of the 1893 purchase or the change in the tract’s boundary and acreage is not known. However, perhaps the correction of the deed or transaction is related to erection of the house, and the exemption certainly shows that timber was being harvested from the land. Also in 1903, the Upchurch’s eldest daughter, Lessie Helen Upchurch, was married to Malpheus G. Upchurch of Lawrenceville, Virginia.

A nearby house is strikingly similar to the Upchurch-Williams House. James Madison “Jim Mack” Williams built a frame dwelling using timber felled on his land and dressed at a nearby mill, according to family history. Williams started construction in 1906 and finished in 1909. The house shares the same massing as the Upchurch-Williams House, featuring a hipped-roof with gabled bays at the façade. The roof is sheathed in decorative metal shingles and cornices are boxed with end returns at the gable. The house is larger and more elaborate, however, featuring a central hexagonal tower and larger, two-story gabled side wings. A room in the tower has a similarly geometrical ceiling as does the front room in the cutaway bay at the Upchurch-Williams House.

The Upchurch and Williams families were friendly, but the date the friendship was initiated has not yet been documented. When Jim Mack’s daughter Irene Williams was married at her father’s house in 1915, her brother Elder Cary Williams was a groomsman and Upchurch’s younger daughter Zola played the music. The following year, Cary and Zola married. By 1920s, the couple were farming and renting a house on Apex Road near Zola’s parents.

Later deeds record that G. A. Upchurch willed the house and about 95 acres to daughter Zola Upchurch Williams, directing that the land then pass to Zola’s children at her death. At the time of Zola’s death, there was one living child, Imogene Williams Baker, and one living grandchild, Janet Williams Anderson. The terms of the will meant that the survivors each owned an equal interest in the entire property. In 1967, Anderson and Baker divided the parcel so that each would assume full ownership of roughly half the land. A northern tract consisted of 50.41 acres and went to Baker. The southern tract was slightly smaller at 44.75 acres and went to Anderson. The house is shown in Imogene Baker’s track, labeled “residence.”

Imogene Williams Baker willed her land to Lorraine Williams Kane, her first cousin, also a granddaughter of James Madison Williams and De Etta Council Williams. John M. Kane, widower of Lorraine Williams Kane, transferred ownership of the house to CAP in 2015 with the understanding that the non-profit would move the house a short distance down Roberts Road and sell it with preservation easements to a buyer willing to rehabilitate it. Kane also deeded five and a half acres for this purpose. CAP did a great deal of initial work of the rehabilitation to make the house more marketable, revealing original materials and replacing heavily damaged materials in kind. The move took place on December 15, 2015, and the preliminary rehab work was completed in the summer of 2017. The triangular parcel that the house now sits on was in the Janet Williams Anderson tract created when 95 residual acres of Upchurch’s original 123-ace purchase was divided in 1967.

The Williams-Upchurch House is an excellent example of the transitional Queen Anne-Colonial Revival style built throughout White Oak Township and other parts of Wake County in the period when the switch from cotton to tobacco brought local farmers a notable level of prosperity. While the house has been moved from its original location, its other aspects of integrity have been impressively maintained and even improved with the partial rehabilitation undertaken since the move. Later alterations have been removed to reveal original massing and spatial organization, and lost or heavily damaged original features have been replaced or repaired in kind. The house retains integrity of design, workmanship, materials, feeling, and association. Even with the move, the house remains on land associated with its builder, Golden Almon Upchurch, Jr. and remains on the same roadway.

Property Description
Spectacular one-of-a-kind historic property on 5.5 wooded acres in highly desirable Apex, NC (Money Magazine’s #1 place to live in 2015) for sale by Capital Area Preservation with an historic preservation easement and rehabilitation agreement. The c.1905 Upchurch-Williams House is listed on the State Study List for the National Register of Historic Places and is in the process of designation as an Apex Historic Landmark (qualifies for a 50% property tax deferral). The two-story Queen Anne-style house features typical Victorian details, including a pyramidal roof and two front gables with vertical lapped fish scale wooden shingles, tall interior brick chimneys with corbelled caps, nine restored fireplaces, a protruding front bay with original windows and doors throughout, and a reconstructed and restored wrap-around front porch with slender Doric columns made of solid wood, tongue and groove pine flooring, and a new 5-V tin roof. The main roof is covered in original patterned metal shingles and is in excellent condition. The house also features an intact, unpainted second floor with original carbide light fixtures and flush beadboard walls and heart pine floors throughout. Stabilized and restored to its 1905 interior configuration. Bathrooms, kitchen, and HVAC/plumbing/electrical to be installed by new owner. Wake County Schools.

Last Updated: December 11, 2017
All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified.


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