Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Ship House

I was visiting my mother this past weekend and we took a nice walk on Sunday and went down a street where "The Ship House" once stood.  I had forgotten about this house; the relics left behind include a line of trees down each side of the existing cul-de-sac, which was once the driveway to the house, and some stones, probably some kind of brick in the road which probably delineated a parking area in front of the house.  The house was torn down in the mid to late 1970's.  This photo shows the house before it was razed, not in its heyday.

The house was built for Richard J. Reynolds, son of R.J., founder of the famed tobacco company, in 1941.  It stood on 98 acres, the estate was called Merry Acres (now the name for the area around the house in the Buena Vista section of Winston-Salem, N.C.). Reynolds ran away to the sea when he was 17 and was a Navy commander in the Pacific in the war.  He was also owner of a ship line.  But according to a local newspaper article, the architect, Luther Lashmit, disputes this.  Lashmit says he designed the house in the international style inspired by the German Bauhaus art movement of the 1920's and 30's.  Lashmit also designed Graylyn (another house in the area).  The house had 35 rooms, 15 baths, a ballroom, bowling alley and three bars.  Reynolds kept sheep on the property to keep the grass down.  

Reynolds' first wife, Elizabeth Dillard Reynolds, received the house in a divorce settlement in 1946.  In 1961 the house was donated to Wake Forest University (she left it to her four sons).  The land was divided into lots before the house was donated however (my family home sits on one of these lots).  The house was kept on 4 1/2 acres.

In 1977 Wake Forest tried to sell the house for $250,000 but there were no takers.  The house was impossibly expensive to maintain.  Parts of the house were sold, doors, teak paneling, mirrors, and the house was torn down.

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