Historic Home in North Carolina Set to be Burned for Practice

Mercer-Ruffins House | Edgecombe County, NC | c. 1850s

Somewhat of a mystery, this Greek Revival style home in Eastern North Carolina is believed to have been built during the 1850s, with a large rear extension that was added sometime in the mid-1900s. It seems to have been empty for many years, although I can’t say when it was last home to someone.

Based on the current size of the parcel, it is obvious that this was once the center of a large agricultural parcel and it still is today, surrounded by nearly 200 acres. Back in the days before the Civil War, plantations in this area would’ve been planted heavily to cotton and a large operation  of this size would’ve likely been supported by enslaved labor.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track down any complete architectural surveys that have been completed for Edgecombe County so information on this home is limited. I am still working to identify the best local historical resources who might have more to share.

But, according to county property records, the home is known as the Mercer-Ruffin home, the Mercer name being a common surname in the area in those days.

Aerial photograph of this home in 1994

I was able to photograph the interior during a winter storm and I was impressed by how warm it was inside, even without a fire in the hearth or electricity.

The details inside were surprisingly in remarkable shape, considering how old the home is and that its been unused for so long.

The bones of this home are still very strong and despite some broken windows the interior, seems to have not suffered much from exposure to the elements.

There is a lot of potential here to save this impressive structure that likely hold many clues and pieces of history within its walls. Clues that will help us to better understand the people who built this, the people who lived here, and what their lives were like back then.

But, despite my best efforts, I have come up short on any further history on the property so I’ve decided to create this post in efforts to drum up any information that might exist that readers might be able to share with me. In this case, I think the need to gather and document this place is most pressing because the home is scheduled to be burned for practice by the local fire department.

From what I have been told, the current owner is a commercial farming operation that is based in South Florida. In early 2020, myself and other preservationists worked to spread the word online to see if it was possible to intervene in saving this home from fire.

Multiple interested buyers came forward and brief discussion with the current owners revealed the possibility of selling it to someone, as long as they can move it off the property. But this is where things have stalled, and as of my writing this in August of 2020, there has been no movement on saving the house and the owners have stopped responding to correspondence.

As of my last visit in May of 2020, the home was still standing so perhaps there is hope that it will be spared from destruction.

Do You Have Information About This Home?

Please respond in the comments below or email me directly: kelly@theforgottensouth.com

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