Born to build:
Tim Walters fulfills part of his destiny by helping to preserve the town's heritage

Kernersville News - John Staples

Builder Tim Walters at the Pegg House tearoom

Tim Walters may have been born to build.

From the time he was a young boy, Walters, a custom home builders in Kernersville, liked fixing things — an old bicycle, a broken model train, a busted screen door.

"I always had a knack for fixing up stuff. I would take anything old and fix it up," he recalled last week. "We didn't have a lot of money, and while other kids might have a new bicycle, I would take an old one and try to make it look better than new.

Walters said his interest in fixing things up led him into carpentry, then to subcontracting and then to full-scale contracting. "I never chose building a career, it just sort of evolved, " he admits.

Today Walters builds houses of all kinds, but he may be best known for the old homes he fixes up. He has in recent years become the premier restorer of historic houses in Kernersville.

He's helped restore a dozen or more homes in Kernersville, including Köerner's Folly, The Stafford House, the Elias Hufff House and many others. He's been helping to restore the Old Depot and has completed projects in Old Salem.

"We've done a lot of work on old homes that are not necessarily historically significant, as well as work on the historic ones," he says.

Walters restored the old home on North Cherry Street that was once owned by Dr. Fred Pegg, a local dentist. The ground floor has been converted to a tea room and is run by his wife, Deborah. His offices are on the second floor.

Before graduating from East Forsyth High School, Walters worked as a carpenter's helper, then took up carpentry full time. He enjoyed working on special projects. "There was always something different, not your normal construction," he said.

Walters says he's been the butt of some talk about building projects that seemed eccentric or perhaps too difficult to be financially profitable. "I heard some really strange language about the Huff House," he said last week. But never one to bend to outside pressure, the Kernersville builder says he enjoys a challenge. "I've never been willing to write something off as no good, or too old," he says.

He admits that a lot of historic renovation and restoration involves not only a labor of love but a "love of labor." Sometimes the more difficult the project, the more interesting the work. Walters takes on some more mundane home-building jobs but he enjoys the challenges most of all.

He says restoration construction is sometimes flexible. "There are degrees of restoration. You can fix up this or that, or you can do a facade and let it go at that. I always try to do what is financially feasible.

His success at restoration projects has earned him a seat on the Forsyth County Historic Properties Commission as a representative from the Town of Kernersville. A member of the board for over a year now, he says it takes a lot of time but it's satisfying work knowing that he can have a say in how historic buildings should be restored and preserved.

Walters works on houses and other projects that range in price from $75,000 to $750,000. One of his favorite projects has been a recording studio for Mitch Easter, a musician and music producer. "There's some Frank Lloyd Wright influence and a New York loft theme in it," he said.

One of the things Walters would like to do most is a coordinated housing complex. "Restoration is great but I've always thought it would be great to do an area — to combine homes with offices utilizing some old architectural styles but new modern conveniences.

Walters was born in Abington, Virginia, the last western settlement begun by the British in the colonies. Although he moved away from Abingdon before he was a year old, he thinks the area's historic roots may have influenced some of this thinking about historic properties.

Now in his mid-forties, Walters says he's very fortunate to have been able to do the work he's done. But he adds, "I'm not easily satisfied. I've got to be challenged constantly."

As Kernersville grows and with it the desire to preserve as much of the town's heritage as possible, Walters expects his experience and expertise to remain in demand for some time. In the meantime, he says he's happy to have been able to take part in the projects that he's been involved in thus far.

Landmark house restored at 200 South Main Street
Winston-Salem Journal - Jan Hoppe

The restored custom built house at 200 South Main Street is now for sale. Built in 1938 by Ralph Fagg, the house is styled in classic Norman French architecture as designed by Winston-Salem architect Louis Voorhees.

Mention that white house on Main and many people will tell you that they've been watching the progress every day for the past several months.

Rumors as to the use and occupancy of the classic Norman French styled home at the corner of South Main and Harmon Lane have been making progress as well.

"What got my interest was thinking back. It was such a beautiful house," said John Wolfe, who bought the property and is restoring it.

Wolfe is the descendant of Jule Korner, who built another downtown landmark, Korner's Folly.

Every day, Wolfe passed the property on the way to his law office at 101 South Main and thought, "It's a house that needs to be saved."

The house was originally constructed for Ralph Fagg and his family in 1938. It remained in the family with his granddaughters living there until May 1998. At closing, Wolfe was given the original architectural plans for the house as designed by architect Louis F. Voorhees of the renowned Lashmitt, Little and Voorhees architectural firm of Winston-Salem.

To accomplish the restoration, Wolfe hired contractor Tim Walters, who has done a number of house restorations in Kernersville.

"We had pictures of the house from earlier years," explained Wolfe. "We tried to keep it close to the original, but still add the modern comforts of today."

Inside the front door, the impression is of entering a European home. The separate entry room has coffered paneled doors opening to a cedar-lined coat closet on one wall and a black and white tiled bath on the other. All of the interior woodwork and the exterior doors are deeply patinaed, hand-crafted chestnut. They still have their original 1930's decorative hardware.

To return the interior to its former décor, all of the natural wood surfaces were refinished, including the banisters and stair railings.

Sunlight pours through an upstairs dormer window, highlighting the natural chestnut banister and railing of the stairs. The arched entrance leads to two of the upstairs bedrooms.

The floors throughout the over 2,400 square foot house are narrow planked oak, even in the kitchen, which had to be completely redone. New cherry cabinets are being added there along with the space for modern appliances.

The house was designed to be simple, but elegant. There are deep, curved crown moldings at the eight-and-one half foot ceilings and baseboards that appear to be eight inches in height.

Part of the look of the house are its casement windows. For the restoration, each window was carefully removed, completely dismantled and reglazed.

Upstairs, the master bedroom has deep dormer windows and a marble framed fireplace. His and hers cedar lined closets were built on either side of the fireplace. An attic access off one of the two other bedrooms was floored and furnished with built-in bed slats at the floor level.

A few more modern adjustments have been made in the 1,200 square foot basement area. A dropped ceiling and washer and dryer connections were added just below the stairs, but the old canning shelves remain, now cleaned and repainted. In a separate room of the basement, a large white double sink and faucet have been surrounded with a new counter top covering the original cabinets below.

Part of the original design of the house included two "mini" greenhouses in this basement room. These were made with deep dormer style windows at the ground level above. Still in working order, a long rope is used to pull the levers that allow the windows to open for ventilation. In the garage … automatic doors replaced the old pull-up style.

Leight House renovation combines good blend of the old and the new
Kernersville News - Keith Tolbert

Contractor Tim Walters stands next to a portrait of Mollie Staples Leight, whose husband had the Leight house built in 1902. The mantle over the fireplace is the original.

It was one of the hardest restoration jobs Tim Walters has ever done, but the end results certainly made it all worthwhile.

Walters' restoration of the Leight family house in Walkertown is nearly complete, with only minor details left. By combining much of the original house with some modern updates and an addition, Walters feels he created a unique living space.

"The trick in a project like this is what is worth saving. You try to keep everything you can, " Walters said.

What he saved included all the original doors, floors, ceilings, the staircase and the mantle from the fireplace. What he added was a new kitchen, a den, bathrooms and a two-tier deck.

Walters was also able to recreate some portions of the house using old photographs. One example of this was the front porch.

All the new ideas and additions were designed by Walters. He said he tried to make the new portions blend with the old as much as possible. The house was originally built in 1902 for Erastus Milton Leight and his wife, Mollie Staples Leight, and was located on Sullivantown Road. All of their children were raised in the house, but the only surviving one is Mary Leight Booe.

The house was unoccupied for several years and donated to the Town of Walkertown in the 1980's in hopes it would be used for some town project. The house was used by Spooks Unlimited for several years as a haunted house.

In 1991, Annette Leight, whose husband Edwin grew up in the house, bought the house back from the town and moved it to a location next to her home, a short distance east on Sullivantown Road.

Walters said what he basically started with was a shell. The first and most important was to level the house up and build a new foundation after the move was completed.

Walters said even though there had been large numbers of people in the house and it had been moved, it was still in good shape. Most of the original lumber in the house came from the sawmill that the Leight brothers operated.

"Some things in old houses wouldn't pass inspection today, but they hold together better than new houses," Walters said.

The next step involved sandblasting the floors, doors and other parts of the house that had several layers of paint on them. A new roof had to be added, but Walters used a metal roof to give it the authentic look.

Annette Leight said she was very pleased with the way the house turned out. She said she thinks her husband would be pleased with the results as well.

Once completed, the house will be occupied by Leight's daughter, Peggy Leight. Annette Leight said she is looking forward to having her daughter next door and her daughter is looking forward to coming back to Walkertown.

Gearing up for the move of a lifetime:
Paige Cook gets ready to move the historical Huff House

Kernersville News - Michael Cottingam

This man will be moving history. Tim Walters was selected by Huff House owner Paige Cook as one of the contracted movers that will relocate the Huff House from Main St. to Pine View St.

With the amount of growth Kernersville has seen in recent years, it's not surprising that so many seek to preserve the historic district of downtown.

As buildings are erected and overlay requirements are met, those who wish to keep "Old Kernersville" alive work feverishly to maintain the past.

Paige Cook is one of those individuals, and because of her passion for a particular house, a little bit of old Kernersville will survive.

Cook is moving the Elias Huff House on South Main St. to a brand new location on Pineview St.

The Huff House is considered by many as one of the most intricate homes in Kernersville, and Elias Koerner Huff, a member of the family that founded Kernersville, built the home around 1880.

Historic house gets a new home
Fontaine House could be moved to Southern Street in a matter of days
Kernersville News - Brad Chiasson

One of Kernersville's most historic buildings is about to get a new, more suitable location.

Tim Walters, the president of Tim Walters Construction, Inc., says the Fontaine House will probably be moved within the next eight to ten days.

The Fontaine House, which is currently located on Main Street, will be moved to Southern Street. The house will remain intact while it is moved.

"The house has pulled off of its original foundation, but it has not been moved off of the original property," the president says.

Walters says the house's current location on Main Street is not a good setting for a historic home.

He says the Fontaine House is near several businesses, including Zoe's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria.

As the years progress, new businesses will most likely want to locate on Main Street, and Walters says the Fontaine House would have to be moved.

The Fontaine House's new location on Southern Street will mimic the house's original setting extremely well.

"It's a situation where we don't want (the Fontaine House) to look like it had been moved," Walters says. "We want it to look like the move had been planned out."

Walters says a lot of preparation has gone into the project, and many factors had to be considered beforehand.

"We determined it was feasible, and we figured the project was a good way to save a house," the president says.

Walter's says the building's structural integrity was strong enough to allow for the transportation.

One thing that complicated the move was the Fontaine House's chimney.

Walters says the chimney will be transported intact, and that could cause problems during the move.

A transportation path had to be chosen which was relatively free of power lines.

Walters says the town could not afford to unhook a large number of power lines in order to move the house.

The house could also not be transported on a road that had a lot of left and right turns.

The president says the house is so large that it could be maneuvered well.

"The length of the house is as much as a tractor trailer truck," Walters says.

Traffic concerns have also been factored into the Fontaine House transportation project.

"At this point, it will happen early in the morning it order to avoid traffic," the president says.

Walters says Southern Street does not receive a large amount of traffic, but the precaution will help to avoid any unforseen problems.

The president says Tim Walters Construction, Inc. has experience transporting historic homes.

The construction company also transported the Huff House to Winston-Salem.

Walters says his company cares about saving historic houses like the Fontaine House.

"I don't think they should be pushed out or bulldozed over," Walters says.

"In my opinion, there's always room for historical preservation in the town."

Consultation by appointment
237 N. Cherry Street, Kernersville, NC 27284
(336) 996-7562