Seven years ago, it seemed the century-old Seagroves Farm house was destined for demolition to make room for yet another subdivision.
Thanks to some determined residents and a preservation-based town code, the farm was spared from the developer’s wrecking crew.
The results of those efforts were in full display Sunday afternoon as the current Seagroves Farm owners received a landmark plaque during the annual Wake County Historic Preservation Celebration held in Apex.
Three other properties in Wendell, Morrisville and Fuquay-Varina were also recognized at the event, which is co-sponsored by the Wake County Historic Preservation Commission and Capital Area Preservation.
“History is alive and well in North Carolina thanks to historic preservation,” said guest speaker Ramona Bartos, administrator for the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office. “Historic preservation is a vital component for economic vitality and keeping sense of one’s place.”
Fuquay-Varina Mayor John Byrne, a vocal supporter of historic preservation, lauded the efforts of the commission during their 20-year history.
“We need to do the right thing for our communities and our properties,” said Byrne. “They do a fabulous job of coaching people through the (preservation) process and making people aware of the tools available to them. It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years but they do a wonderful job.”
WCHP Chairman Ed Morris called Seagroves Farm a “true historic preservation success story.”
The property was originally a 92-acre tobacco farm owned by John Henry and Nevada Seagroves. In 1910, they built a one-story, triple-A farm house with a wrap-around porch.
The home and its outbuildings were purchased by a developer in 2005 and were planned for demolition to make room for a subdivision. But a vocal campaign by town residents and historic preservation advocates along with a strong “demolition disincentive ordinance” enacted by the town kept the buildings intact.
Seagroves Farm was eventually set aside as a Resource Conservation Area for the subdivision project and donated to Capital Area Preservation with a rehabilitation agreement.
JEMMS Properties bought the property in 2007 and the house and agricultural outbuildings were rehabilitated.
“The outbuildings’ continued presence around the house preserves the farm’s setting and allows the property to visually convey a piece of Wake County’s agricultural past,” said Morris.
The farm house currently holds offices for Cotton Custom Homes and Peak Engineering.
Morris presented the landmark plaque to owner Bill Cotton and his wife, Cindy, and son, Joseph. Apex Town Councilmen Scott Lassiter and Terry Rowe also participated in the presentation.