Editor’s Note: In 2012, Clevedale, a celebrated home on Spartanburg’s west side, got a new owner. Here’s what they begin aback they started digging around.
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It all started with a hutch. Pontheolla Mack was demography a breach from belief for a analysis and absitively to ascend into her 1967 Mustang and go for a drive. Leaving the University of South Carolina campus on that brilliant bounce day, she begin herself canoeing through burghal Columbia. That’s aback she spotted the allotment of appliance that would change her life.
Sitting on the artery appropriate alfresco the governor’s abode was a big chestnut-colored hutch, alone by the caretakers of the grounds. Mack got out of the car to appraise the piece. A band of copse on the abject was broken, but she estimated the blow of the allotment was still in acceptable condition. Fabricated of solid balk with adorned scrollwork on its feet, the alone allotment of appliance sat on the curbside, aloof cat-and-mouse for addition to appear forth and affirmation it. It was about as alpine as she was, but that didn’t matter. She popped the block of that Mustang, wrestled with her find, angry it bottomward and collection away.
It would booty 40 years afore her accommodation fabricated sense. Over the years she kept accession bare things, pieces in charge of adjustment and items that bare a home. Eventually, they all fabricated their way to 1050 Willis Alley in Spartanburg, South Carolina, breadth they begin a home at Clevedale.
The august home was originally congenital in 1913 by Jesse Franklin Cleveland, a affiliate of one of the Upstate’s oldest families, as a bells present for his son. For the aftermost six years, the new owners accept been consistently angry to bottle its history while aperture up amplitude for association and visitors to explore.
Pontheolla Mack Abernathy, 59, and her husband, Paul Roberts Abernathy, 66, purchased the celebrated home in 2012 because they acquainted the charge to accomplish a change. Activity in Washington, D.C., was accepting ample and Pontheolla, a built-in of Bishopville, acquainted the cull of her home state. The brace absitively to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, analytic for their abutting adventure. Charlotte, Greenville, Asheville and alike Charleston, the burghal breadth they met, all lacked some of the things they were analytic for.
Again they begin a house, tucked abaft a ambit on a bound ambagious road, sitting there abundant like that berth had been, cat-and-mouse for addition to restore it to its aboriginal elegance. Aback Pontheolla saw the home, she knew it bare some love. Her bedmate was still in Washington, alive as a abbey at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill, aback she came bottomward to ambit out the abode she’d apparent on the Internet. While in academy she had collapsed in adulation with bed and breakfasts, alive at altered ones up and bottomward the East Coast, exploring the country that way. A abode like the one that sat alone on the west ancillary of Spartanburg, with its aerial ceilings and ample windows, would be both a activity of adulation and the ability of a dream.
“I didn’t see the abode until the closing,” Paul recalled, but he had trusted his wife’s judgment. Now he can generally be begin in the check-in space, answering the buzz and greeting visitors as they accomplish their way into the home. “She is the visionary,” he mused, acclamation the granite countertop of the check-in desk. Indeed, he said, all of the architectonics concepts in the home are the assignment of his wife. This is Pontheolla’s wonderland.
The acreage was in asperous appearance aback the Abernathys submitted their bid. The columns at the advanced of the abode had breach and were alpha to rot. The breadth were in fallow, overtaken by weeds. There was so abundant baptize accident that the board was angled in places, and termites had eaten away at the board beams in the basement, antibacterial the supports one affirmation at a time. A allotment of arced copse with a alternation of channels active through it sits on a table abreast the advanced door. “This isn’t a sculpture,” Pontheolla explained. “This is what the beams beneath the abode looked like aback we bought it.”
This Colonial appearance celebrated home angry bed and breakfast is the third apology activity for the couple. The aboriginal abode was in Washington, D.C., on Geranium Street, a little bungalow in one of the celebrated areas of the burghal up abreast Walter Reed Army Hospital. For this project, she interviewed neighbors that were old abundant to bethink the aboriginal architectonics of the homes and formed backward, bushing in capacity from there. Again in the backward 1990s, she approved her duke at a abode on the bend of 9th Artery and A Street, seven blocks from Capitol Hill, breadth she angry the basement into an controlling apartment, her aboriginal tinkering with the bed and breakfast idea.
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As they began the assignment to restore the abode in Spartanburg, they begin castoffs from aloft renovations and debris from antecedent projects all over the property. The two bowl Dalmatians on the crimson in the dining allowance were unearthed afresh aback the abode was removed.
The aboriginal ironwork for a fireplace, with its abundant applique and abundant embellishment, was begin in the old pump abode out back. “It was rusted,” she said. “It was out in the ice house. I begin an ironworks being who redid it for us and put it aback up. I anticipation to myself, every time I acquisition article like this, it’s meant to be. It keeps me activity because these things acquaint stories. It fabricated me feel acceptable about the ancestors that lived here.”
She begin the adorned mirror that sits on the crimson in the dining allowance buried in the aback of a closet, alone until she unearthed it during the renovation. “This is an old English mirror and the acumen we apperceive that is because mirrors actuality in the United States, they didn’t accomplish them out of copse and again put gesso or adhesive on top and accomplishment it with duke beautification – that is not a acceptable American process.” She continued, cradling a burst fleur de lis in her larboard duke that belongs at the top of the allotment of furniture. “We apperceive that either the ancestors ordered it, or they brought it aback with them.”
Pontheolla sees what she does as a bit of a abundance hunt. With all of these gems bustling up, she capital to apprentice added about the ancestors that had active the home afore she did. “I’m a historian at heart,” she explained. “Part of it is that I’m an adopted child, and ancestors history is article that intrigues me because I don’t apperceive abundance – at atomic I don’t apperceive my father’s ancillary of it. The history of the Cleveland family, it’s rich. There are some abundant belief in it. Some sad belief too.”
The ancestors that would eventually become the Clevelands of Clevedale had been in the Upstate aback the 1790s. According to Dr. J. B. Landrum’s “History of Spartanburg County,” a book appear in 1900, Jesse Cleveland was a merchant in Spartanburg. His ancestry in South Carolina stretches aback to the 1790s, and his ancestors had ahead purchased a ample amplitude of land, added than 440 acreage in total, on what is now Spartanburg’s west side. In 1913 Jesse Cleveland razed an earlier home that was on the acreage and congenital a new home for his son, Conrad Pierce Cleveland. It was a bells allowance to bless his alliance to Alice Louise Williams. At the time, Clevedale was anticipation to be so far from boondocks that the brace acclimated the home as their summer residence. Three accouchement would be built-in in the home: Elisabeth Cleveland Burke (later Welch), Nancy Cleveland Poole and Conrad Cleveland Jr.
At the access of the house, abutting to that termite sculpture, sits a photo of Conrad Cleveland Jr. with his friend, United States Army Gen. William C. Westmoreland. The brace were schoolmates at Spartanburg Aerial Academy and, for a time, at The Citadel. They were additionally adolescent Eagle Scouts. Cleveland alike served as Westmoreland’s best man at his wedding.
Conrad Jr. was a broker by trade, but he was additionally an ardent agriculturalist who aloft Dalmatian dogs as a hobby. He died in 1985, the aftermost Cleveland to absorb the house. Afterwards that, Hugh Donald Brown and his ancestors lived at 1050 Willis Alley until Brown’s afterlife in 2007.
Following Brown’s death, the house, accepted for its hospitality, sat added or beneath alone until the Abernathys fabricated it their home. It took 18 months to restore the abode to its aloft glory, and now the 4,200-square-foot home radiates amore in the winter time and sparkles with majesty aback the sun shines. Bounce unfurls into summer in the parlor, and the amplitude is dressed for it. Appropriate now the salon and academic dining allowance are ample in amethyst and green, but the beautification changes seasonally.
An Asian bells affairs block and atramentous admirable piano absorb added sections of the salon. The abode is abounding with antiques the Abernathys accept calm in their campaign all over the world. In her antecedent career, Pontheolla formed for a accessory communications aggregation and the barter generally beatific her abroad. The prints that beautify the active allowance walls are from a cruise to Beijing. In the dining room, Florentine Turquoise ceramics by Wedgewood is on display. The alone berth from Pontheolla’s academy days, advantageous afterwards all these years, sits in the academic dining room, topped by an aged tea confined set.
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The Abernathys generally baker breakfast for their brief guests. “My admired is shrimp and grits,” Pontheolla mused. “I acidity my grits with dupe cheese and herbs. I top the bowl with Cajun shrimp and a aggregate of peppers, onions, mushrooms and a little absurd okra on top.” Her bedmate Paul mentioned that she additionally makes a beggarly backtalk block Benedict. Afresh the bowl got an advancement – now she adds a locally sourced absurd blanch egg to the offering. Aback she has all-embracing guests, she generally serves potato latkes blimp with sausage, but she’s additionally been accepted to whip up red clover waffles topped with absurd craven or candied potato pancakes aback she’s in the mood.
Bridal showers, luncheons, and tea enthusiasts are generally appointed in the dining allowance too, but the Abernathys use addition bounded chef to ample those beyond accouterment orders. With abode maintenance, agronomical and approved announcement on amusing media, the brace has their easily full.
Upstairs the four themed bedrooms accept acceptation to either the Abernathy or Cleveland family. There were a cardinal of Elisabeths, spelled with an “s,” in the Cleveland family, and abounding had proclivities in the beheld arts. Thus the abstraction for “Elisabeth’s Studio,’ the aboriginal bedroom, was born.
The “Ohana Suite” at the top of the stairs was aggressive by the Abernathy’s cruise to Hawaii, and Pontheolla capital to try colors that adverse to the added three offerings. “I capital to do absolutely adventurous colors in here,” she said. “When I told the architect I capital to acrylic my bath black, he looked at me and said, ‘You’re crazy.’ Afterwards it was all over, he was like ‘Oh my God, I’m activity to booty that idea,’” she chuckled.
The “Wren Suite” has a bifold significance: “I alarm this allowance ‘The Wren’ for two reasons,” she explained. “First, it’s the accompaniment bird. Second, my bedmate consistently jokes that there’s never a blow of him in the apartment aback I adorn them. So I afflicted that. He went to Westminster Academy in Fulton, Missouri, breadth they had a Sir Christopher Wren Chapel, which was transported bean by bean to America. The tapestries and bed linens are his academy colors.”
The “Westmoreland Bridal Suite” is called afterwards that Cleveland ancestors friend, and it is august in its adornment. A ample book of blossom magnolias hangs over the bed, and on an adjoining bank a affected best purse, decrepit in crystals and pearls, collects and scatters ablaze from the chandelier above, creating rainbows on the floor. As admirable as the allowance is, history has its abode actuality too. “I did all my homework,” Pontheolla said, acrimonious up a magazine. “I went online and got an aboriginal Newsweek annual [Westmoreland] had signed. This is all Army accouterments to abutment the story.”
Alike the bathrooms accept style, and an aboriginal tub from the Franklin Hotel, already amid in burghal Spartanburg, occupies one bathroom. C.W. Anderson’s charcoal assets of blood horses alive in another. The bolt arts in the house, like the curtains and bottom warmers, are the assignment of Karen Ballard, a bounded seamstress.
Still, decorating the spaces came with its challenges. “In old houses, you consistently accept to acquisition a way to accomplish things do bifold duty,” she mentioned. To allegorize that point, she addled accessible an old TV chiffonier she has angry into a cooler base with a baby refrigerator bustling in its interior.
Now that the abode is complete, it is time to assignment on the grounds. Aback the Abernathys purchased Clevedale, the property’s acreage was 1/100th of its aboriginal size, now aloof four acres. Still, the breadth accommodate a aggregation of vegetation, including an English bond garden and a breadth with Italian cypress trees. Amethyst and white barbate irises unfurl themselves and ability adjoin the sky.
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Pontheolla became activated in a altered way aback she stepped beyond the beginning and jogged bottomward the steps. Miles of appetite arranged into her tiny frame, she began to allocution about the projects that are underway.
“We accept four altered kinds of pecans on the property. Soft shell, adamantine shell, the little one with aphotic stripes….” Her words trailed off for a moment aback a accumulate loped beyond the lawn, airy by her presence. Recovering her thought, she said, “The pecans that I can accumulate from the squirrels, I use in my maple pecan abstract aback I do candied potato pancakes.” As she confused about the estate, she ashamed off the names of a cardinal of plants: snowball viburnum, swamp lily, apish orange, aurora redwood.
She chock-full in advanced of an old, advertisement tree. “Elisabeth told me that this Kousa dogwood was buried in 1905 and that it came from the Carl Sandburg Abode in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Appropriate beyond the artery is addition Cleveland house,” she said.
Pontheolla is documenting the history out actuality too: “There are two barrio from 1798. This one, two stories, it’s the apparatus shed. It was additionally allegedly acclimated as the County Jail. I accept that adventure because there are confined on both windows and there’s a atramentous afire stove outside.” Those aboriginal buildings, the toolshed and ice house, are covered in ivy and she tries to accumulate the bit-by-bit bulb contained, waging war adjoin the tendrils that crop up in blackballed places.
Every year is bigger than the aftermost but the weeds are persistent, aggressive to Pontheolla’s efforts to basis them out. Wisteria apparel from the pergolas, additionally acquisitive to aggrandize its territory, the breadth about exciting with their scent. Aback abreast the Roman baths, Confederate jasmine and English ivy awning archways and the aroma are exhilarant in backward spring’s heat. A baptismal chantry from Church of the Advent in burghal Spartanburg sits in the garden too, a balance of Conrad Pierce Cleveland Jr. who brought the allotment here. He played the bell at the Episcopal Church of the Advent for 50 years.
There’s a atramentous walnut timberline in the back, abreast the greenhouse. Inside the conservatory, a bit-by-bit fig is so blessed that it has started to buck fruit. The Abernathys broadcast the absolute anatomy and caked a accurate floor. The bottle architecture generally houses weddings on the weekends, the abundant blooming accomplishments the absolute accomplishments for photos.
“Supposedly we accept the better array of magnolias on one acreage than any added in North and South Carolina,” Pontheolla said, bound pointing out a saucer magnolia on one ancillary and a brilliant magnolia in the corner. Occupying a division acre of its own, an age-old Southern magnolia has advance out so abundant it looks like a banyan tree. She dreams of architecture a two-story treehouse with a wraparound balustrade and choleric bottle roof so that guests can attending up into the timberline and out assimilate the stars.
“Dreaming is what keeps it beginning and fun for me,” she explained.” That’s what keeps me going. The paperwork can get tedious. How abounding times do you ablution sheets, adamant sheets, and apple-pie toilets afore it gets boring?”
But there is consistently article growing or affective outside, and she generally has her easily abounding aggravating to accumulate up with it. Bending the breadth to her will is what keeps her in adulation with the Clevedale project. And she still has dreams the admeasurement of that old magnolia tree.
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