WHITE OAK — Harmony Hall Plantation is getting an extreme makeover. There’s no Ty Pennington, but there are plenty of roofers removing old shingles from the roof and installing the new Western Cedar Shake shingles.
The 255-year-old plantation home, built by Col. James Richardson, last had a new top put on back in the 1980s when an effort began to restore the Revolutionary War-era home.
“We’ve needed a new roof for several months,” said Bobby Lewis, field marshal at Harmony Hall Plantation Village. “We’ve had problems, but didn’t have the funds at the time.
“We had a tree to hit the end of it a few years ago and, when that was repaired, it was noted that some of the shingles were getting bad,” he added. “Then it started springing up new leaks, and we had to combat them, and we had to patch a little bit here and there.”
Harmony Hall Plantation holds a place on the National Registry of Historic Places, as well as the registry of Bladen County Historical Society. In addition to its historical value as one of North Carolina’s oldest homes, it also carries with it the legend of British Gen. Cornwallis, who, according to some stories, took over the home during the Revolutionary War and used it as a temporary headquarters on his way down the Cape Fear River to Wilmington. While there, it is said that Richardson’s wife overheard Cornwallis’ plan for attack on the Patriots down river and was able to send word ahead to warn them.
Today, the home and outbuildings that make up the Village are used for weekend activities and tours — and that legend is often part of any discussion about the home.
About 30 years ago, the roof of the home was redone in shingles from a timber mill in Curry, but they are no longer being made available anywhere in the region. So the new shingles were milled and transported from Canada, and have been treated to make them last longer while keeping them fungus free.
“The new roof should last 30 to 35 years plus, ” said Lewis, “and, weather permitting, should be finished (this week).”
He added that the Western Cedar Shake shingles were required by the state because of the home’s historical place.
“They kind of mandate or tell us,” Lewis said. “Plus, in looks and everything, it’s in keeping with the original look of the house.”
As far as what will be done with the old shingles, Lewis states that they will be given as souvenirs to anyone who wants them or they can be used as fire starters.
The new roof, which is being installed by Tony’s Roofing out of Bladenboro, will cost about $10,000 when all is said and done. So far, about $2,000 has been raised by the Harmony Hall Plantation Village Foundation, which relies on the community for support.
“We don’t get any money from federal or state,” Lewis said. “We do it through donations, contributions, fundraisers and whatever we can do to raise a few bucks.”
Anyone wanting to make a tax-deductible donation to the Harmony Hall Plantation Village Foundation should contact Lewis at 910-874-4011.
Harmony Hall is open each Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m., as well as at other times by appointment by calling 910-874-4011.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.