Wolfe house to be restored

WINNSBORO – For years it’s been an eyesore in downtown Winnsboro – a prominent antebellum mansion in disrepair after decades of neglect.

But last week a historic preservation group, Preservation South Carolina, finalized the purchase of the nearly 200-year-old house and will soon begin work to restore it to its glory days, according to the group’s Executive Director Mike Bedenbaugh.

“The detailing in the building is as fine as any house of that era in upcountry South Carolina. The details are extraordinary, and we’re so glad we could intervene in it before they were lost,” said Bedenbaugh, who estimates that it was built in the 1820s.

“It’s going to need some work. The roof has been leaking for years, but the good news is it’s made out of heart pine, which does a good job of holding its firmness even with getting rained on. So, it’s in remarkably good, restorable shape.”

He said the house has been on the organization’s radar for more than a decade. After the owner’s passing last year, her son opted to sell it to Preservation South Carolina for $50,000.

This purchase and the necessary stabilization work is being paid for with a $125,000 historic preservation grant from the 1772 Foundation, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit that funds preservation efforts.

Known as the Wolfe House, the two-story antebellum mansion is a Winnsboro landmark. Its details are reflective of the era in which it was built: a gabled portico supported by hand-turned columns and arches; hand-carved moldings, door facings, mantels, cornices, wainscotings and trim.

But with its roof falling in and loose roofing material, little paint remaining on its beaded siding, a collapsed chimney, and a damaged portico, the house has long been in need of repair.

Bedenbaugh said he’s currently seeking quotes for needed foundation work, roof replacement, and rebuilding of the portico. He hopes construction can begin in the next few weeks.

As efforts began to clean out the house in preparation for the repair work, he said he’s received a cooperative and encouraging response from the town and county, which have offered dumpsters and access to municipal services to help facilitate the process.

The restoration project is expected to have a positive impact in Winnsboro, a pre-Revolutionary War town with a lot of history.

“Once we get finished with the work, we do think we can attract investment to come in and utilize it as office space or commercial space of some sort,” Bedenbaugh said.

“This is going to put the conversation of Winnsboro’s revitalization in front of people all over the state and in preservation communities around the country,” he said of the project. “We’re excited to be part of the community and helping to bring some investment to it.”