Cary History

Town of Cary Relocating Historic Nancy Jones House

Cary, NC – The Town of Cary reached an agreement to purchase the Nancy Jones House, the oldest standing house in town, with plans to relocate it by next year.

Historic House Moving

The Nancy Jones House, located at 9391 Chapel Hill Rd., was built in 1803 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But the historic house is also located near the Sri Venkateswara Temple of North Carolina, built in the late 1990s, and temple officials said it was interfering with their activities and community programs.

So, the Town of Cary announced on Thursday, May 3, 2019 that it would pay the Sri Venkateswara Temple $100,000 to acquire the house and will relocate it.

“This agreement will allow an important part of history to be preserved while at the same time increasing the Temple’s capacity to serve the community well into the future,” said Ravi Kandukuri, Vice Chairman of the Sri Venkateswara Temple’s Planning Committee. “We are appreciative of our renewed partnership with the Town and look forward to finding more opportunities for working together.”

According to Senior Planner Anna Readling, the terms of the town’s agreement with the temple say the house must be relocated by October 2020.

“Both the interior and exterior surfaces of the house need scraping and/or painting, and I suspect that the electrical system may need updating, though this hasn’t been verified, but overall the house is remarkably solid considering it is over 215 years old,” Readling said. “As with all houses old or new, I’m sure other things will crop up, but this is what I know right now.”

The Nancy Jones House’s new location has not yet been decided. Over the next year, not only will the town and preservationists determine where the house will go, but also how to repair damage the house has accrued over the past two centuries.

“There are the usual old-house issues: past roof leaks have caused some water damage on interior walls, some of the floors joists in a later rear addition may need some reinforcement, there is some termite damage and some windows will need repair. The two, original exterior chimneys have both separated from the house because the chimney footings have subsided,” Readling said. “When the house is moved, the chimneys will be placed on new, level footings which should correct the separation problem. The mortar joints in the chimneys will need re-pointing after the move.”

A Place to Rest

The Nancy Jones House was built nearly 70 years before the Town of Cary was even incorporated. Bob Myers with the Friends of the Page-Walker said there was very little in Cary at this time but the house’s position between Chapel Hill and Raleigh made it an ideal stopping point.

“The University of North Carolina opened in Chapel Hill in the late 1700s and so that route became more heavily traveled,” Myers said. “Its position lent it to become a stopping point from Raleigh to Chapel Hill or Raleigh to Hillsborough.”

The house’s design itself also helped with that, from its size, its bright white color and its floor plan.

“It has two large front rooms, either of which could be used as a parlor,” Myers said. “Nancy Jones herself would provide meals or drinks.”

As a stopping point between major North Carolina cities, the Nancy Jones House received guests such as President James K. Polk and several different North Carolina governors.

The Nancy Jones House is the oldest standing building in Cary, managing to stay up even when other houses – such as High House, also built by the Jones family – have since gone away.

“A big reason for that is, for most of its existence, the Nancy Jones House has been used as a residence,” Myers said. “It’s been continuously occupied, and sitting empty is never good for a house.”

Myers said he and the rest of the Friends of the Page-Walker are happy the house can be preserved and he said it was the culmination of 15 years of work.

“We consider the Nancy Jones House to be one of the most important buildings in Cary,” Myers said.

Cary History

The Nancy Jones House in 1939

Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of the North Carolina Division of State Advertising.

18 replies
  1. Wendi Knapke
    Wendi Knapke says:

    I love that it’s being restored but saddened by the idea of moving it. So much of Cary’s charm has been lost to development already. I realize it’s in the way of the temple but the house was there first.

    • Gabe Talton
      Gabe Talton says:

      Gary, Apparently the chef of the closed An restaurant is opening an Asian fusion restaurant in the Jones house space. It looks like the fist contractor put latex paint over oil and now that is all having to be removed for a new coat of paint. The latex was failing badly in multiple spots. That site has struggled with low seating capacity and limited parking.

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      The town is renovating the exterior of the Sams-Jones house now, to be followed by interior renovation in preparation for Chef Michael (formely of An) to open by the end of this year.

  2. Brent
    Brent says:

    To those who think that the Nancy Jones House should be moved to some downtown location, please consider:

    The Nancy Jones House was a rural stagecoach stop. It doesn’t belong downtown.

    Historic properties, when they need to be relocated (as a last resort), should be moved as close to their original location as possible, to retain their historic context.

    If the Nancy Jones House leaves the Chapel Hill Road area, it will lose its historic context and likely its National Register of Historic Places designation.

    Not to mention that the further it moves, it increases the cost, complexity and risk of moving a fragile historic structure — Cary’s most important unprotected historic resource.

    The Nancy Jones House should remain on Chapel Hill Road for all these reasons.

  3. Matt Miller
    Matt Miller says:

    I had the same thought, immediately, as others have expressed here…put it in place of the old library building. That building isn’t “historic” and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the street, anyway. The property used to be a small farm, I believe. I think it should return to that look, and could be a great little attraction for old downtown Cary.

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      This location is not consistent with the historic context of the Nancy Jones House. A stagecoach stop on Chapel Hill road.

      It would likely lose its National Register designation if relocated outside its historic context.

  4. Jane
    Jane says:

    I don’t know what is planned for the library site, but that would be a beautiful place across from the park.

    • George Jones
      George Jones says:

      that would be a nice place for it. somewhere prominent…amazing piece of history.

      • Brent
        Brent says:

        Except that it is inconsistent with the house’s historic context and would likely result in the house losing its National Register designation.

  5. Jacqueline Kilberg
    Jacqueline Kilberg says:

    Could the house be relocated to where the current Cary Community Library currently resides?

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      It could be, but Historic properties should remain as close to their original location as possible to retain their historic context. The Nancy Jones House should remain on Chapel Hill road.

  6. Liz Ryan
    Liz Ryan says:

    Or maybe off Chapel Hill Road/NC54, near or on Town Hall Campus? Just down the same road on which it was originally sited.

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      The Nancy Jones House was a stagecoach stop on the route that is now N.C. 54/Chapel Hill road. It would best remain on that route to retain its historic context.

      Chatham Street was old US 1, a different route. Town Hall is between the two. The Nancy Jones House should remain on Chapel Hill road.

  7. Brent
    Brent says:

    Kudos to the Town and the Temple for this agreement. The Nancy Jones House is the oldest remaining residential structure in Cary and the most important historic structure in Cary that is not protected.

    To learn more about the Nancy Jones House and other Cary historic properties, attend the Friends of the Page-Walker’s “What Have We Got to Lose?” Presentation on May 21, 7:30 PM at the Page-Walker. Free and open to the public.

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      The Friends of the Page-Walker presented “What Have We Got to Lose?” To a packed house tonight.

      The audience learned about the Nancy Jones House, a wedding at the WPTF transmitter building, and the rich history of Rogers Motel & Restaurant, among many other stories.

      History rocks!

  8. George Jones
    George Jones says:

    awesome save! It would be nice to see it relocated on Chatham somewhere between the 2 roundabouts??

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      Historic properties are best relocated as near their original site as possible to retain their historic context. I hope it can be moved to a site on Chapel Hill Road.

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