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Posted on: February 15, 2019

Holly Springs' Oldest Home Awaits New Owner

Norris Holland Hare House

Having saved it from demolition, the Town is preparing to turn the vacant Norris Holland Hare house, Holly Springs’ oldest structure, back into a home.

For sale signs are going up at the two-story, two-century-old house within the Mills at Avent Ferry subdivision. The town bought the house from the developer in December 2017 with the expectation of selling it with preservation requirements.

Prospective buyers have until March 25 to bid at least $60,000 for the house and two lots totaling .58 acres. The high bidder prevails after clearing an additional 10 days for upset bids. Deliver signed bids to the Town Attorney’s Office at 128 S. Main St. or call (919) 557-2917 with questions.

In January, members of the Norris, Holland and Hare families reminisced over old photos during a walk-through of the house with town staff and others who advocated for saving it.

“Family members are very excited that the town did step in to preserve the house,” Gina Clapp, director of Planning and Zoning, told the Town Council on Feb. 5. “They’re very excited to have the house sold as a single-family home so other generations can live in the house and have families.”

The Town is working with Capital Area Preservation on deed covenants that commit owners to preserving the structure’s character. Its history as a home and the high cost of adapting the structure for public use were reasons that preservation experts advised maintaining it as a private home.

To prevent deterioration while vacant, the Town sealed holes in the roof and removed cracked plumbing fixtures. Public Works crews also cleared away ivy and other overgrowth and debris to prepare the house for showing.  

The original hall and parlor section of the house likely dates to the turn of the 19th century, said the Capital Area Preservation representative who inspected it. Subsequently, the house was expanded to two floors with two rooms each.

Ninety percent of the original portion remains intact. All windows, floors, stairs and walls are original and intact, reported the preservation inspector, who added that the house “likely is one of the older buildings in all of Wake County.”

The original portion was built by Needham Norris, the son of Revolutionary War veteran John Norris Jr. Needham Norris bequeathed the house and farm to his nephew, Simpson Washington Holland.

In September 1864 as the Civil War ground toward its final months, Holland headed to Virginia to search for his brother, a Confederate soldier.  Left behind were Holland’s wife Mary Ann and their young children, including a week-old son. Simpson Holland died two months later without ever returning home.

For two weeks in April 1865, an encampment of Union soldiers encircled the Holland home. Mary Ann and her children lived upstairs while Union soldiers occupied the first floor as a field hospital.

The story of Mary Ann Holland and her young children featured prominently in the play “Finding Patience – The Story of Holly Springs.” The community production debuted in June 2017 at Holly Springs Cultural Center with multiple sold-out performances.

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