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A Home with a Historical Twist

04/07/2015 10:26AM ● Published by Annette Winter

Gallery: Martha Beck Wood [18 Images] Click any image to expand.

Cleverly hidden from the hustle and bustle of Raeford Road, Clyde and Martha Beck Wood's home in Haymount is beautifully deceptive, both in size and age. Completed in 1958, the house has been a well loved home to three different Fayetteville families, beginning with the Richard Lilly Sr. family, Graham and Mary Rose Bell, and finally the Woods. 

Ironically designed by Fayetteville’s most recognizable modernist architect, Dan MacMillan, the home was modeled, nearly without exception, to a 17th century Georgian home, called Holly Hill, found in Ann Arundel County of southern Maryland.  

Boasting a mix of modern and traditional elements, the craftsmanship is second to none. Clyde, President of King Model Homes Building Company, fell in love with the home at Martha’s urging. “Clyde didn’t want an old house and we were in the process of designing a home across the street on the land where I grew up, but when Mary Rose Bell told me they were thinking of downsizing, I knew it was a great opportunity. ‘Just go over there and have a look,’ I told Clyde. He couldn’t pass it up when he saw it. The quality is incredible and to reproduce it would cost a fortune,” said Martha.

Walking through the Charleston green double front doors into the glossy white wainscoted foyer, the eye immediately travels forward to the sparkling European crystal chandelier elegantly floating above the lengthy dining room table. A sweeping bow window offers ample natural light and extra space for entertaining. Traditionally decorated to Southern perfection, the silver tea service, passed down from Martha’s grandmother, gleams, while portraits of Clyde and Martha’s girls, now grown and married, add familial warmth to the formal room. A closer look reveals pictures of the girls with their husbands, confirming that the residence isn’t just an expertly designed and decorated house – it’s a home. “I just love this room from every angle,” confessed Martha.

To the right of the dining room, the kitchen and breakfast nook are equally striking. “My favorite rooms are the dining room and the kitchen, for many reasons,” said Martha. The kitchen, originally a service kitchen, was the only room that had to be completely gutted and updated. While the ceilings in the other rooms loom at an impressive 10 feet and boast the original thick crown molding, Clyde was able to raise the kitchen ceilings from seven feet to nine feet. New cabinets extend to the ceiling, making use of every extra inch and complimenting the heart pine floors, which came from an old mill in Anderson, South Carolina. “Clyde had such vision for this area and for the rest of the home. He did a wonderful job,” said Martha of her husband of 34 years. 

“While we did gut the kitchen, we worked within its confines and preserved its charm. It was a state-of-the-art 1950s kitchen and we were careful not to take away the character as we created the breakfast nook and made the kitchen more user-friendly,” Martha said of the well-used space. 

While the home was originally designed to allow for a staff to assist with day-to-day duties, the home is now more suited to the needs of a modern family. Martha laughed as she walked up the refinished and updated staircase, “You won’t find carpet on my steps, because I hate vacuuming!”

To the left of the dining room is a regally appointed, yet inviting, living room. It features the original marble around the fireplace and, of course, innumerable family pictures perched atop the shiny black Samick imperial German scale piano. While her children don’t play much, she occasionally hires pianists for parties. “For my mother’s 80th birthday, my siblings and their families came over for a dinner party. Pat O’Brien played background music and Dorothy’s Catering provided the food. It was great,” said Martha.

“I have four children, four grandchildren with one on the way, nine siblings and 35 nieces and nephews. Clyde has a sister and brother-in-law in the area, and both of our mothers live here. We entertain a lot,” laughed Martha, as she sat at the Beck family round dining table, which now resides in the Wood’s breakfast nook. “I was so happy to get this table,” she said. “My parents were always fair in doling out their possessions because I have so many siblings, but we are not a jealous family. We are very close and see each other often. I think I got the table because my mother is grooming me to be the matriarch of our family, to keep the family pulled together,” Martha laughed.

In addition to regular family events and friendly get-togethers, the Woods host a dinner event each year for more than 50 people to benefit The CARE Clinic in Fayetteville, which provides quality healthcare to uninsured, low income adults. They are active members of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. Passionate about her faith, Martha was on the rebuilding committee for St. Patrick’s. “First, we designed the gym and built it. Then, it took us 13 years to raise the money for the new church,” she said.

Of the changes they made around the home, there were none in the formal living room. “We only made changes to update the kitchen and bathrooms. That’s how well built the home was,” said Martha. She did note that they removed quite a bit of wallpaper and consequently, most of the walls are painted, rather than re-papered. “It took over two weeks to remove all of the old wallpaper, which was three layers thick in some of the rooms and halls. I’m not ready to put more up, yet!” she laughed.

A distinguishing feature of the home, from a builder’s perspective, much to Clyde’s delight, is that the walls are made from Sheetrock, not plaster. A more user-friendly material, it is rare to see in a home from the 1950s. “It’s so much easier to hang pictures, and it doesn’t crack,” said Martha. 

Another of Clyde’s favorite features of the home can be found in the family’s den: a floor-to-ceiling wall of lustrous original heart pine built-in shelving, cabinets and heart pine paneling. A ubiquitous adornment of the Wood home, family pictures, including a childhood portrait of Clyde Thomas III over the fireplace, cozy up the ample space. “My children love to be in this room and run the fireplace when they are home. The heart pine gives it a warm feel,” said Martha. 

Perpendicular to the den along the main galley, Clyde and Martha’s bedroom is the only bedroom downstairs. While traditionally and perfectly appointed, it showcases a uniquely functional quality, rarely found in a home of the 1950s: ample closet space. A priority of Mrs. Lilly in the building process, the home features spacious closets in each of the bedrooms, even walk-in closets in some.  

While Clyde and Martha never had to “carve out” additional space in many places, the breakfast nook was originally part of their spacious back porch. “When we have family and friends for gatherings, everyone enjoys the porch. Cold weather or warm, that’s where I put my bar,” said Martha. Both the porch and the breakfast nook offer a completely unobstructed view of the perfectly manicured back lawn.  

In the winter months, a focal point of the back yard is a beautifully constructed brick wall, which the Woods added for privacy. Clyde was able to track down the maker of the home’s original brick in Virginia and had the wall built to match. “On our side of the wall, there isn’t a single specialty brick, but it appears to be very ornate and is very beautiful on the neighbor’s side, too. We felt good about the beauty on the other side for them,” said Martha.

In the warmer months, the wall becomes a backdrop for an impressively landscaped lawn, which comes alive with Cherokee roses, a favorite of the original owner, Mrs. Lilly, along with azaleas, ferns and crepe myrtles. The front yard is home to an impressively large tea lily. “It’s one of the largest in the area, and it has a wonderful fragrance when it blooms,” said Martha. At 5,500 square feet, the home sits on an acre of land. Luckily, Clyde likes to work in the yard and do a little gardening. “Grant Parker helps keep our yard intact, too,” said Martha.

The fully bricked exterior of the home is laid in Flemish bond, which is decorative, rather than simply functional and requires skill to execute. The bond is characterized by alternating stretchers (sides of brick) and headers (ends of brick) to form a regular pattern that was exceedingly popular in Europe in the 17th century and can still be seen in many well-preserved buildings in colonial Virginia. The bond requires two layers of brick and consequently, the windows of the home are luxuriously deep-set from the interior. 

The roof is the original slate roof from the late 1950s, and has the capacity to last more than 100 years, as it is impervious to water, heat, sunlight and cold. Classic glossy white cornices and dentil molding accentuate the traditional choices of brick pattern and roof. 

The Woods, of course, have no plans to mess with perfection. Regarding their future in the home, Martha surveyed the upstairs playroom fit for her four, soon-to-be five grandchildren, featuring brightly colored toys and an array of princess dresses and smiled, “We briefly considered downsizing, since our children are out of the house, but we’re staying. My daughter and son-in-law are building a home next door.” 

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