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Hillsborough Couple Honored For Work Preserving “Ordinary House”

By Anne Brenner Posted June 1, 2013 at 9:12 am

HILLSBOROUGH-One local couple are receiving accolades for their efforts to preserve some of Hillsborough’s oldest history.

On Friday evening at the 2013 Preservation Awards, the Hillsborough Historic Commission formally recognized architect Reid Highley and his wife Louise for their preservation of a historic exterior. They were specifically being honored for their work on a structure known as William Reed’s “Ordinary House.” Reid Highley first purchased the House last fall, and he says his work in the architecture field is what first attracted him to the building.

“My background has primarily been with historic houses, so I’ve always tended to gravitate more toward the older end of the spectrum,” he says. “But when we set out, I didn’t think we’d end up in anything quite this old, because quite frankly, there aren’t that many of them in North Carolina.”

The house is located on 157 E. King St. and dates back to the mid-1700s. It was originally a tavern, but Highley says it was also used for lodging purposes.

“It’s a place where you’d stay the night and have something to eat and drink,” he says. “That’s the role our house played in Hillsborough’s history. There were actually a number of them in town.”

Highley designed a variety of changes to the Ordinary House, including the installation of shutters and new exterior colors—but during the renovation and restoration process, he says he kept a focus on maintaining the building’s historic charm.

“When I’m designing newer houses, obviously most folks are gravitating more toward open plan living, and that’s certainly not what you get with a house built in the 1750s,” he says. “To some extent, you have just to embrace what the house is at its core, which is an older house. You end up with a nice mix; you get the newer fixtures and surfaces, but with the character and integrity that comes with the old.”

And Highley says the citizens of Hillsborough have been supportive because they’ve collectively put an emphasis on the town’s traditionalist aspects.

“Obviously Hillsborough has a lot of pride in its architectural inventory, which is pretty remarkable in this area,” he says. “I think it’s one of the places with the highest concentration of historic homes around. In general, the town wears that as a feather in its cap. It’s just a very preservation-minded community.”

Friday night’s program took place in front of the Old Orange County Courthouse. During the program, Sandy McBride and Kim Richardson were also honored for their role in converting a barn house on Corbin Street to a modern art studio; meanwhile, Mark and Jennifer Soloman received the honor for designing a compatible new addition to the Thomas House on Queen Street.

During his work on the Ordinary House, Highley kept a detailed online blog, and you can read his entries by clicking here.

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