Cherry St. home restoration realized

First Posted: 10/9/2009

For years, the house at 305 Cherry St., also known as Baird Cottage, has stood vacant.
Discussions in front of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners had become a regular occurrence as the board debated whether to raze the house or to sell it to someone who would restore it. Then, the debate became to whom to sell the property.
Eventually, Brenda Cooke became the proud owner of the property.
Its just something Ive always wanted to do is restore an old home. When I read about it in the paper, I came out and walked around it and just fell in love with it, she said of the house. It was just right for my life and my needs.
Soon after being awarded the contract to the house, Cooke brought in Ron and David Contractors as the general contractor for the property. They in turn brought in 13 different contractors to work on the property and had the help of Preservation North Carolina to ensure that the house, which is a historical site, was renovated to look like it did originally.
It was a challenge, but it was an exciting challenge, said Cooke. It was a pleasure to do it. I think it will be a bit of a let down now theres nothing going on.
She held an open house on Friday to show off the completed project. As people arrived and walked through, many expressed that they could not believe it was the same house. With the work completed, Cooke is ready to move in the rest of her furniture and hopes to be living in the house by next weekend.
One of the biggest challenges she faced was making sure there was enough space to put everything in the house. She worked with the contractors to get creative with ideas for storage, creating cubby holes at the top of the closets.
My theme song for this project is We Have to Use Every Inch, she said. It was a fun challenge to figure out how to use space. I had to make sure I can live here comfortable.
For Ronella and Mary Ellen Goad, seeing the house restored to its glory was an emotional experience. The mother and daughter once lived in the house.
We lived in D.C., and when I was in fifth grade, we moved here in the late 50s, said Mary Ellen, noting that she teared up as she walked through the house. It was one of the coldest winters around. It was a fun house to live in, but it was very cold.
Its just indescribable. It makes you feel at home. When you think of the difference, it was an old beat up house is what it was, said Ronella of seeing the house in a livable condition again. When we lived here, I tried to make it like our home.
It would be absolutely ridiculous, it would be a sin, if they had let this house go, said Mary Ellen.
The journey to restoration has been a lengthy one.
The house was built around 1920 adjacent to a mansion owned by Dr. C.A. Baird. The structured was threatened with demolition in order to provide more parking for the neighboring Reeves Community Center. Meanwhile, area preservationists fought to preserve it as an important part of the Mount Airy Historic District. On Sept. 4, 2008, the city commissioners placed the property in the hands of Preservation North Carolina.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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