Glencoe Mill Village is a little gem on the Haw River just north of Burlington. Built in the 1880s, it has been beautifully restored to life. Its 30-some houses comprise one of the most intact mill villages still standing in North Carolina. The houses themselves have been renovated and in many cases sensitively expanded.
Saturday will be a good day to visit Glencoe: Four homes are currently on the market, and three will have open houses. Realtors with listings in the village join together to hold open houses one Saturday per month. Take N.C. 62 north from downtown Burlington, and Glencoe is about three miles up the road at the Haw River.
2440 Glencoe Street, which will be open Saturday, is a excellent example of the village’s restored homes. For sale at $278,000 ($133/square foot), it has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,090 square feet. The original mill house was typical — two rooms downstairs and two upstairs. A kitchen was added about 30 years later as a rear ell; it has been brilliantly redesigned. The home’s features include its original heart-pine flooring, exposed-beam ceilings, track lighting and wide-plank walls and ceilings.
A porch along the kitchen has been turned into a bright hallway that connects back to the original detached kitchen (one of the few still existing in Glencoe). The kitchen has been renovated to serve as a bedroom or den; the current owner has her loom there. The washer and dryer are tucked away in the hallway. A screened-in porch at the side leads to an additional bedroom at the back. The lot is a spacious 0.31 acre.
It’s hard to imagine a more elegantly restored mill house.
About 250 people lived in Glencoe at its peak. After the mill closed in 1954, the village’s population dwindled, and it deteriorated badly. In 1997 Preservation North Carolina bought it with a gift from Sarah Rhyne, a part-owner of the property. The organization joined with Burlington and Alamance County to restore Glencoe. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places; it’s also an Alamance County historic landmark and a Burlington historic district (it’s not actually in the city, but it is within Burlington’s zoning jurisdiction).
The beautiful Haw River Trail runs along the south side of the village and includes a paddle access point at the mill. Glencoe has a peaceful, isolated feel to it, but it’s only 15 minutes to downtown Burlington.
Like any distinctive, historic neighborhood, Glencoe isn’t for everyone. Its quiet and character are far from typical. Consistent with the history of the village, there are no garages or fences, sidewalks or curbs. Ownership of a historic home is really stewardship in a way; it carries responsibilities. The houses themselves tend to have quirks. Their original stairs up to the second floor are almost comically steep.
The owner of 2440 Glencoe Street, along with her late husband, was one of Glencoe’s pioneers in the late ’90s. Twenty years later, like some of the other residents who did such remarkable work restoring the mill houses, she’s ready to leave for a smaller home. There’s room for a new generation in Glencoe.