Crooked Corners

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The early history of Crooked Corners is not clear.  However, clues can be taken from both documentary and physical evidence.  Around 1838, Col. John A. Zachary of Surry County – the progenitor of the Zachary family in the Cashiers area – acquired a substantial land grant and moved his family to Cashiers.  The house site is part of the 640-acre tract that John Zachary deeded to his three youngest sons – Mordecai, Woodward, and Jonathan – in 1846.  For several reasons, Mordecai is believed to have been the son who held possession to this portion of the land.  In 1892, it was Zachary and his wife, Elvira, who sold six acres of the property to J. L. McGee and R. E. Ligon.  Brothers Woodward and Jonathan Zachary are known to have lived elsewhere.  And, family stories tell of having to go across the road to cook for the summer people who were staying in the large, two-story home (Zachary-Tolbert House) where Mordecai and Elvira Zachary and their family lived most of the year.  Physical evidence suggests that Crooked Corners was built no later than the mid-nineteenth century.

After the house left Zachary ownership in 1892, it changed hands several times until 1925, when Georgia (Georgie) P. Belknap (Bellnap) and Charles Waddell Jr. purchased the property.  At that time, dormers were added to both sides of the rear ell and, then or later, a bathroom was added to the upper floor on the south side of the ell.  Part of the side porch was enclosed on the north side of the ell to create a kitchen and, later, a small shed porch was added to the rear of the kitchen.  Using it as a summer residence, the Waddell family retained ownership of the house until ca. 2010.

An impressive line of tall pine trees separates the current NC 107 South from the old road, which Crooked Corners faces.  Stone steps lead up a knoll from the old road to the house.  The house is a one-story, frame, vernacular dwelling that appears to date from no later than the mid-nineteenth century, although modifications to the house have been made through the years after then.  A rear ell was added later in the nineteenth century, and it was modified in the 1920s.

The front, main body, of the house has a stone-pier foundation, weatherboard siding, a side gable roof with boxed eaves, and a single-shoulder stone chimney on the south end.  The weatherboarding does not appear weathered enough to be original, but when it was replaced is not known.  The ell retains areas on the north and south sides of weatherboards with beaded edges, which are probably original.  A shed-roofed porch with chamfered posts carries across the façade and wraps around the north side of the house.  The east bays on the north side of the ell have been enclosed to form a kitchen, but the date of that change is not known.  An added shed room and small porch extend eastward from the east end of the ell kitchen.  Although the style of the main, wraparound porch is appropriate for the time of the house’s construction, it is a replacement of the original porch, which would have covered only the façade.  When it was rebuilt is not known, but the materials do not look especially old, so it likely dates from the twentieth century.  A shed-roofed porch with plain, square posts shelters the rear of the house to the point where it connects with the ell.  The porches have V-shaped, wood, eaves gutters, which appear to be of recent origin.

The five-bay façade of the house features a central entrance with a replacement door and two nine-over-nine sash windows on either side. Batten shutters attached at the top of the windows lift outward and upward and are attached to the porch ceiling when open.  When closed, a cast-iron strap attached diagonally to the window casing holds the shutter tight to the house.  Windows on the north end of the main body of the house are six-over-six sash; paired six-light casement windows that flank the chimney on the south end of the house are twentieth-century replacements. First-story ell windows are nine-over-six sash, except for the six-over-six sash windows of the kitchen and a small, six-light window near the rear of the south side of the ell.  On the upper half-story of the ell, gabled dormers with six-over-six sash windows were added to either side of the ell in the twentieth century.  A window in the east gable end of the ell is six-over-six sash.  On the upper half of the south side of the ell, between the two dormers, a gabled addition extends approximately one-and-a-half feet beyond the main ell wall.  With a single, south-side window, it housed the bathroom.

The interior of the house reveals much nineteenth-century material along with some replacement or added fabric.  The front part of the house follows a hall-and-parlor plan – two rooms of unequal size divided by a board partition with a single door between the two rooms.  In this case, the larger south room measures approximately 16 x 18 feet, while the smaller north room measures approximately 16 x 14 feet.  The partition wall is of double thickness: the hand-planed vertical boards on the south
side are probably original and the horizontal boards on the north side are probably added.

The front rooms have random-width floor boards and random-width, hand-planed, flush-boarded walls and ceilings.  The west, front, door is four-paneled and appears to be a replacement.  The rear door is an impressive, heavy, hand-planed, six-raised-panel door.  It may be original, although it seems a bit too high style for this vernacular house and may have been re-used from another house.  The partition wall has a batten door, and most of the other interior doors in the house are of this
type.  Windows (as well as the door between the north room and the ell) have three-part surrounds typical of the early-nineteenth-century Federal-style period.  Long, threaded bolts used to secure the exterior shutter straps run from the exterior of the house through to the interior window casings.   The larger of the two front rooms has a fireplace at the south end with a simple, hand-planed surround, which appears to have a modified mantel shelf.  Window seats and shelving on either side of the fireplace date from the twentieth century.

A batten door at the rear of the smaller front room opens to the ell, which is one-step down from the main floor level.  It is likely that originally the ell was divided into two rooms on the first floor.  The
west room remains intact, but the east, rear, room has been subdivided into a transverse hall and two smaller rooms.  Doors from the hall open to a bathroom at the south end and to the added kitchen at the north end. The original walls and ceilings of the first story of the ell have flush-board sheathing.  In the large, west, room, two doors open to the exterior. The north, four-paneled door does not appear to be original. However, the hand-planed, four-panel door that opens from the south side
of the room to the rear porch of the main body of the house probably is original.  The northeast corner of the main ell room holds the mostly open, winding stair to the upper floor.  Beneath the stair is a small closet with a short, hand-planed, two-panel door.  A batten door opens from the main ell room to the rear section.  Across the transverse hall from the batten door, a hand-planed, four-panel door to a bathroom is probably original, although not original to this location.  At the north end of the hall, a batten door opens to the kitchen with its unfinished walls.  It is on the south wall of the kitchen – originally an exterior wall – that early, beaded-edge weatherboards can be seen.  A door from the south wall of the kitchen opens to one of the subdivided rooms at the rear of the ell.  That room has both flush-board and beaded-board walls. Another batten door opens to the small, added, shed room and porch at the rear of the ell.

The upper floor of the ell is not a full story, so it has knee walls and a sloping ceiling.  It is divided into two main rooms, plus the added bathroom between the two and a small closet in the rear room.  A batten door divides the two rooms.  The walls and ceiling of the west room are board and batten.  On the west wall, a hatch door opens to the unfinished attic of the front of the house.  The walls and ceiling of the east room are flush boarded.  Two dormers open into each of the rooms.  They are
lined with beaded boards.  A small, six-light window at floor level on the north wall of the west room is no longer open to the outside, but shows what the original windows in the upper floor of the ell were like.

A single outbuilding stands behind the house. It is a dilapidated, twentieth-century shed with vertical-board siding, a double-leaf door on the west side, a shed roof, and an open shed extension on the north side.

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