Fascinating Fayetteville: Firm Foundation
By Kim Hasty
Photography by Cindy Burnham
Susie and Prescott Godwin’s Forest Lakes dream home is built on a solid foundation, featuring materials like steel and cast-in-place concrete. That’s due in part to having a structural engineer in the family. “When we saw the architects’ design and what they were going for, we felt it was important to incorporate some design elements from a structural viewpoint
to compliment the architects’ vision,” said John Kells of Fleming & Associates, who happens to also be the Godwins’ son-in-law. “It was important to me that they have a home that would perform well structurally. It’s at least a 100-year design.”
But this home, filled with collectible artwork, priceless family heirlooms and countless lovely touches, is built on something that’s stronger than even the solid trusses that bolster the structure.
Love. More than anything, it’s a home built on love.
Just ask the Godwins’ next-door neighbors. Those would be the Godwins’ daughter Lacy Kells, who is married to John, and their three children, 9-year-old son John Palmer and 7-yearold twin daughters Simonne “Simmie” and Mary Prescott, who love to frequent the little path that leads from their yard to their grandparents’ house. The Kells live in Lacy’s childhood home, where Susie and Prescott Godwin raised their family long before the lot next door came for sale, and long before they decided to buy the lot and build. The Kells’ home dates back to when Prescott’s grandparents lived there. “Lacy and I grew up together and were always friends,” John Kells said. “Her house that we live in was the gathering place for our friends. We watched the millennium turn there, had dinners there. Her parents have always treated me like I’m their son. We all get along really well.”
The Kells’ golden retriever, Zuzu, who also feels welcome to mosey back and forth, is named for the youngest child in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
A wonderful life, indeed.
Susie Godwin came prepared when she and Prescott first met with Moore County architects Lynn and Robert Anderson about designing their home from the ground up. She wanted a home that would prove warm and welcoming for family and friends, one that would allow for lots of natural light and open spaces and provide plenty of places to display beloved collectibles and artwork.
“I told them I had in mind a totally renovated European farmhouse,” she said. “A modern version of an old French farmhouse.”
Susie Godwin is a fan of Sir Edward Lutyens, an English architect known for designing beautiful English country houses. She said the Andersons understood her vision right away. The result of the architects’ collaboration with contractor Mitchell Harris is a home that has allowed Susie to foster her own creative talents and to show her appreciation for the creativity of others. The home is filled with gallery walls and bookshelves that feature best-sellers along with framed artwork ranging from her own works and those of her children and grandchildren, as well as pieces by the likes of North Carolina artists Nina Freifeld and Gabe Fonorow and local artist Tom Grubb.
In fact, some years ago a friend asked Susie how long she had been collecting art. She thought about the then-ages of her children, Lacy and Harry, and answered, “Oh, about 18 years.”
Susie Godwin’s knack for mixing and matching allows for framed family photos to seem right at home alongside cloisonne animal figurines and majolica earthenware, and for a display of costume jewelry to look like a work of art itself. The large family room opens to a dining area and the kitchen, while large windows look out onto some of the 60-some varieties of shrubs, plants, flowers, herbs, water features and natural areas on the sprawling lot. A modern sectional and large gas fireplace with glittering lava rocks look perfectly at home sharing the room with a British campaign chair, an antique Kobi chair that belonged to Prescott’s grandmother and a pair of 1940s Brutalist milk glass sconces.
The Godwins, by the way, spared every tree they possibly could when clearing their lot and put many of the ones that couldn’t be saved to good use. The dining table, for instance, was crafted from milled hickory.
Their home is a mix of the whimsical and the priceless that includes a spare room that Susie Godwin has turned into an art studio for her and her grandchildren’s creative pursuits and a powder room off the entryway that is punctuated by Cole and Son wallpaper featuring Asian tigers. “I love my Asian tigers,” Susie Godwin said.
In fact, there’s a bit of the Indian, Chinese and French throughout the home, incorporating the Indochine style Susie loves. A Buddha sculpture greets guests walking onto the deck that borders three sides of the back of the home and a collage Susie crafted in the master bedroom features the
Chinese folk heroine Quan Yin.
A balcony off the family room and the den allows the couple a peaceful setting for a cup of coffee or a cocktail, along with a chance to greet friends who walk by. It also gives them a great view of grandson John “JP” Palmer’s expansive display of inflatables for various holidays. “No inflatables in Gigi’s yard,” Susie
said, though JP stores plenty of them in his grandparents’ basement in the offseason.
Prescott expressed his interests most visibly in the eye-level TV that’s perfect for watching sports in the home’s cozy den and in the 58-degree wine cellar in the finished basement
which he filled in an unusual fashion. The architects had a friend who took a vacation to Thailand and decided to stay, so Prescott bought the 900-bottle wine collection the
friend left behind.
“Before that, we had three bottles of wine in here,” Prescott said. Outside, the work of landscape architect Tommy Grisham is accessorized with
meaningful touches like stones that came from the home of Prescott’s parents, Nina and Harold Godwin, who also live nearby in the neighborhood, as do John Kells’ parents. Since moving in two years ago, the Godwins have welcomed friends often. They also plan to host the community for fundraisers and other events.
“It’s incredible,” said longtime friend Weyher Dawson. “Every aspect of it is so well-thought out, and it fits Susie and Prescott perfectly. To me, they hit it out of the park.
There’s nothing like it in town.”