New life for an old house
Written By Jean Sexton
What was once an old farmhouse on Biltmore’s West Side is now the newly-restored club house for the Biltmore Sporting Clays Club. This remarkable transformation continues to be a contributing building to our national historic landmark designation.
Biltmore’s Engineering Services team worked hand in hand with architects, the State Historic Preservation Office, and various contractors to adapt the Jones House into the Sporting Clays Clubhouse, while preserving portions or features of the building which conveyed its historical, cultural, and architectural value. The project was completed last December and received the 2015 Griffin Award from The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County in the Adaptive Re-Use category.
“I thought I knew a lot about restorations until I got involved,” said Brent Merrell, Director, Engineering Services. “It was a great learning experience and it was exciting to watch it evolve.”
Today, the home of the Sporting Clays Club houses a lounge area, retail section, bar, bathrooms, and an upstairs classroom.
The club house was traditionally known as the Jones House, named for the farming family that lived there from 1965–1983. It is one of two homes remaining on the estate from the pre-Vanderbilt era.
“The house was built somewhere between 1879 and 1889, probably by Merritt Roberts, a farmer who sold the land to George Vanderbilt’s agent in 1901,” said Bill Alexander, Landscape and Forest Historian.
The 1,700 square-foot house was designed as a one-story home with a gable roof. Two extensions were added later. Staying true to the heritage of the house proved to be a large task as the structure had deteriorated during the years it sat vacant—the front left corner of the house was 9 inches higher than the back right corner!
“We tried to keep as much of the original material as possible, so we removed exterior siding, walls, and the whole floor, and we put them all back down,” said Brent.
Details like the original windows were also preserved rather than replaced. A nine-pane window upstairs at the front of the house wasn’t centered originally, so the workers removed the wall that held the window pane and the same window was replaced just as it was, offset to the left.
“We did an excellent job of restoring this historic structure. I’m happy we did that,” said Bill.