Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Historic Hugh Torance House & Store in Huntersville Completes Restoration

The Board of Directors of the Hugh Torance House & Store on Gilead Road in Huntersville are proud to announce completion of repairs funded by a Special Projects Grant from the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.

Hugh Torance House & Store

Hugh Torance House & Store

This grant was sponsored by the local Alexandriana Chapter of the NSDAR. The Hugh Torance House & Store is one of the few remaining 18th century structures in Mecklenburg County and is the oldest standing store in North Carolina.  The structure was built by Hugh Torance, a Revolutionary War veteran and dates to the 1770’s. Hugh Torance (1743-1816) immigrated to the American colonies from Ireland in 1763 and came to Mecklenburg County in the 1770’s. He became a very successful merchant and planter. Hugh’s son, James Torance, opened a store in the original log portion of the house in 1805. The “Torance Store” was an integral part of Mecklenburg County backcountry society. It is located at 8231 Gilead Road in Huntersville.

The Hugh Torance House & Store was salvaged and restored in the 1980’s by a group of historic-minded local citizens. Today it is a small non-profit 501(c)3 organization run entirely by volunteers. It is open to the public and serves as an educational field trip for school tours, scouts, senior groups and historical and genealogical associations.Torance Work Sign (3)

As a result of a recent inspection by Andrew Roby General Contractors, it was discovered that structural support repairs (due to failure of the main support beam and piers) were needed along with chimney flashing, floor repairs and electrical wiring repairs. Thanks to the DAR Special Projects Grant, Andrew Roby General Contractors has now completed all of this work and went above and beyond their scope of service to provide historically sensitive repairs that will keep this important historic landmark open to the public far into the future.

Tour of Special Needs Adults

Tour of Special Needs Adults

Bill Russell, Chairman of the Board said the Board is extremely grateful to Andrew Roby General Contractors for their excellent work and to the Alexandriana Chapter of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, for their financial support for this project.  “I recently had the opportunity to lead a tour of special needs adults through the home, after the repair work was completed, and they were awestruck by their return to a simpler colonial time in our history.  We simply could not have had the house ready without the support of the DAR and the Town of Huntersville who continue their strong support of our history and cultural heritage,” said Russell.

For more information about the store, visit the website at www.hughtorancehouseandstore.com.  Group Tours are available by calling Bill Russell at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce at 704-892-1922.

January 7, 2015 Posted by | Bethesda Presbyterian Church History, Lake Norman / North Mecklenburg History | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life’s Great Lesson’s – #2 Small acts of kindness are the greatest rewards

Grandmamma Feemster - Mother's Day 2009

Grandmamma Feemster – Mother’s Day 2009

The hustle and bustle of this holiday shopping season reminded me when I was a little boy my Grandmother Feemster used to take me shopping with her. She lived about 15 miles outside of Rock Hill (SC) in what we called “the country.” On Saturday mornings, she would wake me to a bowl of Frosted Flakes cereal and then it was “off to town.” Grandmother enticed me on the excursion with the promise I could pick out a toy, typically a model, I could put together later that day if I joined her.

It seemed I spent five minutes picking out my model and five hours waiting on Grandmother as she went from store to store looking at all the latest women’s fashions. After many hours of looking at garment after garment, Grandmother would take my hand and walk me into the Shoney’s where I always purchased a “Big Boy” hamburger and Grandmother had a salad with French dressing.

We still had two stops left. I was once again treated for my patience with a Vanilla milk shake at the Crown Creamery and Grandmother purchased a Black Cherry ice cream, usually one scoop in a cup. The last stop was at the fabric store just before we left town.

There she would buy patterns, fabrics, zippers, and thread for all the pretty garments she had seen earlier in the day. Granddaddy Feemster was typically off fishing with his buddies on those weekends. So, Grandmamma would serve me up a Turkey TV Dinner for supper which was always my favorite as I watched Mannix on TV.

She in turn would hover over her Singer sewing machine and began re-creating the pretty dresses she had seen earlier in the day. Some she would sell for spending money. Others she made for her daughters – my mother Sarah and Aunt Betty. But rarely, perhaps never, was one of those pretty dresses for herself.

A few night ago, someone asked what was the most memorable Christmas I had as a child? It didn’t take me long to think. When I was 7 or 8, Grandmamma went to town and bought all the grandchildren Christmas Gifts. I don’t recall now what she purchased my cousins Jim or Kim, but when I opened up my box, in it I found a stuffed monkey.

I still remember crying that I wanted what Jim had received. Not some old stuffed monkey! My mama explained that the gift I received was actually more expensive than both of their gifts put together. But she couldn’t stop my tears. Who wanted a dumb stuffed monkey?

Well, my Grandaddy Feemster didn’t tolerate such behavior and he promptly took the monkey, opened up the front door, and tossed it out in the front yard in the dark abyss beyond my sight. I can still remember my shock as I thought about my poor old monkey laying out there in the cold.

I ran outside and rescued him and from that day forward I slept with him until we put aside little boy ways. I still have my old monkey. He’s tattern and torn. One felt hand is missing and an ear’s about chewed off. He’s been ripped and sewed up more times than I can count. He and I have both been through a lot but we’re both still here and my monkey is the only toy I have from my childhood.Billy's Monkey

Granddaddy Feemster passed away in December of 1988 and we lost Grandmamma in February of 2011. My grandparents were never wealthy people and what little granddaddy had he spent on fishing and drinking – his favorite past times. It was largely grandmamma who worked from the time she rose until the time her head hit her pillow. Her nickname was Miss Tillie from Tillie the Toiler and toil she did.

As I listened to the folks share their Christmas memories the other night, I thought of Grandmamma – Miss Tillie. Everyone in her life came first. What I wouldn’t give to turn back the clock and spend one more afternoon with her. I’d love to be able to buy her one of those pretty dresses or treat her to a Back Cherry Ice Cream – just one scoop.

But I know she’s in heaven with all her brothers and sisters and the man she loved so much – my granddaddy. She’s Walking in the Garden, a song she hummed so often while she sewed, and she’s wearing a pretty dress all her own. A dress woven of love and stitched by the hand of God himself.

January 1, 2015 Posted by | Personal | , , , | Leave a comment