Vonnie Moody admits she doesn’t know much yet about the history of her new house — but she does know that history is rich.
Moody and her husband Boyce, along with her grandmother Anniette Tate, purchased The Haven, located at 315 Second Avenue North across from The Trotter Convention Center, earlier this month. Built around 1843, The Haven is one of the oldest homes left standing in Columbus. Before the sale was finalized, the house had been on the market more than two years.
It’s also unique in that is was built by and for free men of color in the antebellum South, according to local historians. Brothers Thomas and Isaac Williams moved from South Carolina in the 1800s and bought the property, building a family cottage from which Thomas also ran a blacksmith’s shop.
Vonnie Moody knows the gist of the story, but plans to do more research on her own.
“I’m just trying to see where all these facts come from,” she said. “Everybody has their own take on history, so we will just do our own (research) and see what we come up with.”
The home’s former owners, Frank and Esther Troskey, restored the home after purchasing it in 1974, and even opened it for antebellum home tours during the annual Columbus Pilgrimage for a few years.
Moody doesn’t plan to go that far, she says. Her idea instead is to spruce it up and turn it into a casual bed and breakfast-type establishment for Pilgrimage visitors to stay in while they explore the city.
“We’re not going to actually do the Pilgrimage with it starting out,” she said. “What we want is for people that come to the Pilgrimage to actually stay in an … antebellum home.”
It’s one of several similar projects the Moodys have embarked on with Tate. They bought another house on Bigbee Loop that they’re renovating.
“Real estate is (Tate’s) forte,” Moody said. “It’s what she’s always done. So she’s passing the trade down to us.”
The Moodys have plans to use both the Bigbee Loop home and The Haven as “airbnb” (Air Bed and Breakfasts), a type of Bed and Breakfast.
“(Boyce) wants to do a (traditional) Bed and Breakfast,” Vonnie Moody said. “But with our busy schedule and kids, I don’t know how we’re going to be able to cook breakfast … So I think that if it does get to that point, we’ll just fall into it. I think our purpose now is to get it up and get it advertised and just see where it takes us.”
Moody said she hopes to have the home ready for visitors by the end of the summer at the latest.
Other historic homes on the market
Other old homes in town are up for sale as well, such as The Lincoln Home at 714 Third Ave. S. The home is owned by Sid and Brenda Caradine. It was built by Sid’s great-great-great grandfather, David Love. His family sold it in the mid-1800s and the Caradines bought it back when they got married.
“We ran a bed and breakfast there for 22 years,” Sid said. “We had people like Olympia Dukakis and John Grisham … staying at our abode.”
He said they made the decision to sell because of Brenda’s health. He added he hopes the new owners will respect the history as well.
“It was a house that my wife and I, we decorated together,” he said.
“It’s kind of sad in a way, but it’s time to move on,” he added.
Crye-Leike Properties is listing the price as $391,000, about $83 per square foot.
Other old homes for sale include a circa. 1863 home on Sixth Avenue North, which is listed for $79,500 and a circa 1854 Greek Revival house on Eighth Street North listed for $349,900.
A 1854 home on Third Avenue North is listed in the mid-$200,000s; a house on College Street built circa 1825 is listed at nearly $400,000.
Old homes going up for sale in Columbus is not a bad thing, said Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau president Nancy Carpenter.
“I think when people come to town and there are homes available, whether they’re a Bed and Breakfast or the potential to be a (Bed and Breakfast), I think people look at it as an advantage maybe to moving to town,” she said.
She added owners of old homes tend to love the houses and use them as a way to preserve Columbus’ history — which is good because it’s a tremendous amount of work.
“You fall in love with it, then you make the purchase and then it’s constantly updating,” she said. “Just the maintenance … on an old one is a tremendous (responsibility). I think then you feel the obligation to share the home with the public. You feel like you’re the caretaker of historic property and it’s up to you to share and make a difference.”
Vonnie Moody said she certainly doesn’t want to leave responsibility to The Haven for someone else.
“Certainly one thing that we don’t want is, you know, to just get any tenant in here and have them live and not keep the place up and love it,” she said. “We want to keep it and we want to love it and we want to preserve the history that the Troskeys put into it.
“I’ve developed a really big love for (the house),” she said.
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