Classic House of the Week: Greensboro’s Historic Garden Estate Miramichi Nears Century Mark

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Photos courtesy of Preservation Greensboro

The 32-acre Miramichi estate in Greensboro is for sale for $750,000. Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro, writes about the history of the property and its creators on the Preservation Greensboro website:

Many of the region’s great gardens began as private rural estates that were away from the distractions and distresses of city life. Reynolda House for the Reynolds family of Winston Salem (1917), Cason and Virginia Callaway’s garden in Pine Mountain, Ga. (1952), and Lewis Ginter’s Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va. (1984), are all examples of early private gardens that grew to become major public destinations.

Located at 1415 Kellenberger Road in southeast Greensboro, Miramichi is an early private botanical garden with charms and character cultivated by a notable North Carolina couple, May and J.A. “Kell” Kellenberger. Begun in 1920, the estate remains a privately owned garden and was never expanded as a public tourist destination. It represents an unusual glimpse into the earliest period of twentieth century botanical gardens of the region. …

The estate covers 32 acres and is centered upon a one-and-a-half-story log house. The structure is thought to date from 1835 and features V-notch corner-timber details, a stone chimney, and front porch. The structure was the Kellenbergers’ home, and it was heavily altered in the 1920s when they added a half-story and a rear addition that provided a kitchen and library. A later expansion brought more rooms into the house and expanded its footprint to the east. As a restoration project, the home represents one of the earliest examples of historic preservation in the city.

Though the house is charming, the estate is most notable for its landscape – a sophisticated but informally landscaped park. A north-flowing stream bisects the property, and the grounds consist of native woodlands and open lawns, complemented by evergreens, wisteria, and periwinkle. Mature specimen trees such as tamaracks, cypress, and hemlocks are complemented with boxwoods, azaleas and an extensive stand of bamboo to define different areas of the estate’s gardens.

Man-made elements of the estate complement natural features. They include stone-lined spring basins of local fieldstone with a bench, a curvilinear pool with a spillway, and a cement lap pool. Larger structures include a dam created around 1915, a picnic structure of cedar logs topped with a hipped roofline, a two-story boathouse with a viewing deck, and an outdoor picnic area with fieldstone chimney. Currently, the lake is drained, and elements of the gardens have fallen into disrepair.

The estate, including its house, outbuildings, recreation-associated structures, and naturalized landscaping, conjures the imaginative sprit of the Kellenbergers and their ambitious plans for a relaxed country lifestyle between 1921 to 1944. The Kellenberger Estate is significant for its landscape architecture as a rare survivor of a series of comparable rural estates that have stood in Guilford County, ranging from the Jefferson Club off New Garden Road to the Twin Lakes Lodge in southwest Greensboro and Katydid Mill just a half mile south on McConnell Road. The property remains today one of Greensboro’s hidden treasures – a well-preserved historical garden representing the early botanical interests of the Kellenbergers as they sought to cultivate a richly landscaped setting as a focus of regional interest and enjoyment.

The Kellenberger Estate Miramichi was inscribed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The gardens have not enjoyed constant care and management over the past several years, but a careful management plan could see the grounds revived to their original spectacular setting for garden events and tours. The property is currently for sale.

Benjamin Briggs’s complete account of the history of Miramichi and the Kellenbergers

realtor.com listing

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