Thirty-three years ago, Gary Goerss spotted a house in North Carolina en route to a company picnic. The dilapidated dwelling made him hit the brakes.
When he walked inside, it was clear that restoration was in order. The windows and roof were gone, and the plaster was missing. Built in 1809 and left to the elements, the home had also been broken into numerous times.
However, Goerss was able to look past the cosmetic issues and see the home’s allure.
“Within seconds, I knew it was going to be my house,” he says. “I’m a history buff and have restored many homes.”
He paid nothing for the structure, but invested heavily in its remodel. And he didn’t just give it a makeover.
The handsome five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 4,300-square-foot residence bears little resemblance to the structure Goerss bought in 1988.
Decades ago, Goerss was lucky to drive past the house when he did. He saved the house from its planned demise a week later: A fire crew was due to burn it down in a practice drill.
“If I had come a week later, it would have been gone,” he says. “It’s one of the luckiest things I’ve done in my life. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Five years after snapping it up, he began the process of dismantling it. Mortise-and-tenon and dovetail joints used to build the frame in 1809 helped: Every piece he uncovered was numbered.
Pieces were put into storage before a two-year process of reassembling at the new site. Goerss, an engineer and experienced house restorer, installed the heating, electricity, plumbing, windows, and doors.
He preserved the heart-pine flooring, four winder staircases, six-panel doors, eight fireplaces and mantels, hand-blown glass window panes, and wood trim.
“It took a long time—a lot of night and weekend work,” he says of the project.
A new roof and porch floorboards were recently added. Included with the listing is a three-car garage with a workshop and attic. There is also an additional 600-square-foot outbuilding with plumbing, electricity, and a workshop space.
“We are looking for the right person for this house,” says Goerss, “to make sure it lasts another 200 years.”