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Captain Charles McAnally Home Article

provided by Jana McAnally

Publication: Winston-Salem Journal
Byline: Mary Giunca JOURNAL REPORTER
Date: Saturday, June 08, 2002
Edition: METRO
Section: Features
What: Celebrate the Past Festival. There is a restored 1785 home, a
vintage farm-equipment display, special exhibits, wagon rides,
music, food, vendors and games.
When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today at the McAnally House. Free admission
and parking.
Where: To get there: Take Highway 8 or Highway 89 north to Dodge-
town Road. Follow the signs from there to the festival.

DANBURY -- One day, as Gareath Meadows was walking around thed picked up an old brick.

Around him reigned the chaos of an 18th-century house's restoration. Hammers pounded. Workers played tug-of-war with wisteria vines that were devouring the house.

Meadows turned over the brick amid the bedlam. He saw a baby's footprint pressed in the clay.

The print could have belonged to one of the children of Charles McAnally, the home's builder and a Revolutionary War hero. Or it might have belonged to McAnally's son, who saved the house from General Stoneman's wrath.

The identity of the footprint didn't really matter to Meadows. To him, the brick was a message from the past - a confirmation that he and his wife, Ann, had made the right decision to restore a house they had originally described as "bulldozer bait."

The restoration of the McAnally Homeplace took three years. The Meadowses have no idea how much money they spent.

Today, they are opening the house to tours as part of the Stokes County Historical Society's Celebrate the Past Festival.

Visitors can eat, listen to music, take wagon rides, play games and view special exhibits. Money from the festival will go toward the restoration of the Wilson Fulton House in Danbury, which will house a local history museum and the Stokes County Historical Society.

"There have been many stories of families who've lived here over time," Gareath Meadows said. "We didn't know how much history there was in the house."

Someone remembered hunting rabbits on the property. Someone else remembered hearing about corn mash being made there.

When the Meadowses first bought the house, they planned to lease the land to local farmers. The house looked too far deteriorated to salvage. In one corner, the fieldstone foundation had collapsed, and the house rested on the ground.

Bats lived in the walls. Barn swallows nested on the beams. The Meadowses decided that enough was enough when another breed of varmint - vandals - began carting off mantels, windows and doors

"We just hated for the vandals to walk off with it," said Ann Meadows, Gareath's wife.

The couple decided to dismantle the house and use the materials to build a smaller cabin for a vacation house. They began taking down the bricks, stones and beams, and storing them in an old barn.

After a few days, they asked a friend who had construction experience to come over and tell them whether they were going about the knockdown process the right way.

The friend told the Meadowses that they were doing a great job, but that they were going in the wrong direction. They should be putting the house back together, not taking it down.

After a few days, they decided to follow his advice. They expected the job to take about two weeks. It took two years.

As restoration progressed, they heard stories about Charles McAnally, who owned a large library with books on literature and philosophy. Once, so one story goes, McAnally took a loaded pistol and drove a group of men whose political views he disagreed with off his property

The gravel road that runs past the house was once a public road, and it brought a constant stream of visitors. Perhaps the most famous popular visitor, but not the most popular, was Gen. George Stoneman of theUnion army.

Stoneman and his men wreaked havoc in Stokes County. They burned and looted most houses in their path. As Gareath Meadows tells the story, Stoneman looted McAnally's property but he didn't burn it.

McAnally was a Mason, as was Stoneman. Meadows is also a Mason, and he said that the two men would have recognized each other as members of that secret society. He would not say how Masons recognize each other. As work progressed, the house revealed secrets to them.

They stripped paint and found children's alphabet practice scribbled on the walls. Outside, on one of the old chimneys, several generations of graffiti artists had left their names.

One morning, Gareath Meadows saw something small and round glinting on the floor. He closely looked at it and realized that it was a 2-cent piece from 1864. The coin had worked its way out of the ceiling during the night.

At one point, they pulled out a hank of bright red hair. "I said, 'Lord, Gareath, do you think they had bottled dye back then?' " Ann Meadows said. It turned out to be horsehair, which was often mixed in with plaster as a binder.

Happy accidents furnished the house and yard. The Meadowses seem to have a knack for meeting people right before they load up a truckload of furniture to take to the landfill. That's how they netted an old mirror, and a mint-condition purple velvet 1930s couch.

They went looking for an outhouse to add a humorous touch of authenticity to the yard. They found one on a back road and offered the owner $5 for it.

"I can't sell that for $5," the man said. "That's a two-seater. I need $10 for it."

The couple happily gave him the money. Unlike many house- restoration stories, theirs contains no bum contractors, no business deals gone bad.

"I really believe we've had a lot of angels helping us," Ann Meadows said.

Illustrations/Photos: Journal photo by David Rolfe;
HOLDING ON TO THE PAST: The 18th-century McAnally Homeplacein Stokes County was near collapse before Ann and Gareath Meadowsundertook its restoration.2. CARVED: A stone at the entrance to the McAnally house identifiesthe first and current owners.3. NEW OWNERS: Gareath and Ann Meadows on the front porch of the"new" McAnally house.4. INTERIOR EFFORT: The bathroom (left) features a clawfoot tub instonework. A wall was removed to create an open kitchen and familyroom.E3: OLD TIMES: The downstairs bedroom of the Charles McAnally houseis furnished with antiques. The house is open today as part of theStokes County Celebrate the Past Festival.
Type: Color and Published in Black and White

© 2002 Winston-Salem Journal

06-08-2002, pp 1.

Linked toCharles McAnally

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