Fisher Street Revitalized
I closed on my Fisher Street house in Morehead City sight unseen in February 2015. I relied on photos and my previous knowledge of the neighborhood. That is the thing about real estate, especially unique properties in up and coming neighborhoods, if you don’t move quickly someone else will beat you to it. In my case someone almost did, but I got very lucky. Unbeknownst to me, my godfather who lives across the street actually had an offer in on it when I called him to ask his opinion of the property. We discussed my desire to move home and restore the property, and he agreed to assign the offer to me. Fate!
The house was uninhabitable and in disrepair, but it had good old bones and a water view. My home inspector, JP Davies, later told me my house was the worst he had ever inspected. Several feet of water was under the house, and the backyard was the neighborhood drainage pond. But, my godfather, GA Jones Construction, and I could see past it and set out to bring it back to life.
The crew first set out to remove the water from under the house and yard, but doing so was an issue because it kept raining. It delayed us about a month or so. I was still living in Colorado at the time, so I wasn’t around to witness the miracle of removing the water or lifting the house. My godfather told me over the bathroom floor actually fell out when they lifted it. I think most people would have panicked at this point; I’m not really sure why I didn’t. But, I went into this project with the mindset that I had to accept unforeseen mishaps and move on, so that helped. Nonetheless, lifting the house was a necessity because it consistently flooded in storms, and it would save me thousands of dollars on my flood insurance.
I drove from Colorado back to Carteret County the first week of May 2015. My house was up on giant steel beams when I arrived, and the bricks for the new foundation were piled in the yard. The water was gone, fresh dirt was everywhere, and the house was only accessible with a ladder. It was at this time that we discovered original heart pine bead board behind the sheet rock walls. My contractor convinced me to pull all of the sheet rock out of the house and expose the original bead board. This was a messy and time consuming ordeal, but it was so worth it in the end. The back of the house was added later, so we put new bead board in those rooms create a cohesive look.
The sub floors are wide heart pine planks, but couldn’t be left exposed because they had so many holes drilled in them over the years to let the flood water out. Thus, we put in pine floors in throughout the house, except for the bathrooms where I used a retro black and white mosaic tile. The house originally only had one bathroom with an antique claw foot tub. I added a second bathroom with a shower off the master where two closets backed up to each other.
We then designed and built two freestanding closets in the corners to compensate for losing the storage space. They are constructed out of bead board and utilize original interior doors and locks. However, not all of the locks were working, and I needed some switch plates. Rather than using new locks, I opted to use reclaimed locks and switches from an architectural salvage business in Jackson, Mississippi called Old House Depot. I knew about them because I lived in Jackson for three years and use to walk through their space and dream about renovating a home using their stuff. They mailed me what they had, but they didn’t have enough. Old House Depot recommended a locksmith in New Orleans called H Rault and sure enough they mailed me the last of what I needed
We then designed and built two freestanding closets in the corners to compensate for losing the storage space. They are constructed out of bead board and utilize original interior doors and locks. However, not all of the locks were working, and I needed some switch plates. Rather than using new locks, I opted to use reclaimed locks and switches from an architectural salvage business in Jackson, Mississippi called Old House Depot. I knew about them because I lived in Jackson for three years and use to walk through their space and dream about renovating a home using their stuff. They mailed me what they had, but they didn’t have enough. Old House Depot recommended a locksmith in New Orleans called H Rault and sure enough they mailed me the last of what I needed.
As I was picking out paint colors and light fixtures from Coastal Lighting Gallery, various subcontractors replaced all of the windows, electrical, plumbing and hvac systems. Fulcher Electric rewired the home and ran the power outside underground. Golden of Beaufort replaced all of the plumbing and installed all of the plumbing fixtures. Professional Heat and Air installed the new duct work and new unit. Scott and David of GA Jones Construction did so much of the other work associated with the house like painting and carpentry. I only used four paint colors. I opted for soft coastal colors including green, blue, cream and white for the trim and ceilings. All of my fixtures are bronze and came from Longley Supply.
The exterior of the home is grey with white trim, just as it was before I bought it. The previous owners installed vinyl siding. I removed it from the front and replaced it with hardie board shake, but I kept the vinyl on the sides and back to cut costs. I added a three foot wooden picket fence around the front yard for my dog. I moved in around Labor Day 2015 and furnished it with my family antiques. I am so proud to call it home.
I researched and applied for a Historic Plaque from the Carteret County Historical Society this past winter, as I was settling into the home. I traced my deed all the way back to the original developer, The Shepard’s Point Land Company, at the Register of Deeds Office in Beaufort. I also utilized the Research Library at the History Place in Morehead City to learn more about the family that built my house. Using the Census Records and the Carteret County Family Records, I learned that Martin T. Wade built the house and lived their until 1922 with his wife and four children. In 1922, Martin and his wife died in New Bern; the records didn’t provide a cause of death. Three of the children went to an orphanage in Raleigh and one went to live with an Aunt in New Bern. The Bank of Morehead repossessed the home. It changed hands several time, but in 1925 Lola Smith claimed title to the property. She lived at 706 Fisher until 1975 and worked out of the home as a seamstress. The historic plaque for the home reads “Wade-Smith” in honor of these two families. Any structure over seventy-five years old is eligible for a plaque. Applications are available at the Research Library at the History Place.
However, the one thing I didn’t do in 2015 was replace the roof. In retrospect, I should’ve done it. We thought we might be able to squeeze a few more years out of it, but that wasn’t the case. I had several leaks over the winter and spring, so I finally decided I had to replace it to protect my investment. Thus, just a few weeks ago Advanced Roofing installed a dark grey shingle roof. It took two full days and was fascinating to watch. The new roof really adds a polished finished look to the exterior. Without a doubt, there isn’t anything major left for me to do. However, I still need to paint the fence and hang a few more pictures.
I look forward to returning home each day to my eclectic historic home by the sea. I’m so thankful that I took the risk to truly create the home I wanted in downtown Morehead City. I know I made the right decision to come home, live the Carteret County lifestyle and save this house. If I can do it, so can you! Contact me and let me help you find the home that fits the lifestyle you want to live in Carteret County.
Written by Andrea E Smith
Andrea loves life on the Crystal Coast. She returned home to Carteret County in 2015, after living in multiple states and countries. She restored and lives in a historic fisherman’s cottage in downtown Morehead City. She enjoys walking her dog, Riley, riding her bike in her neighborhood and taking her skiff out in the inland waterways.
She is very active in the community and is a member of the After Hours Rotary Club and The Sunshine Community Band. Recently, she founded the Carteret County Carolina Club through the UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Association and the Bunco Beach Brunch to support the Sally B. Smith Scholarships at Carteret Community College.
Born and raised in Morehead City, Andrea attended St. Egbert’s Catholic School and graduated from the Carteret County School System. She went on to graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, Mississippi College School of Law and Johnson and Wales-Charlotte. With degrees in history, law and culinary arts, she is a true Renaissance woman.
Licensed since 2005, she has acquired, managed and sold numerous personal and investment properties of her own, in addition to consulting clients on their real estate matters. Andrea wholeheartedly believes real estate is the ultimate wealth building tool. She looks forward to assisting others in their real estate endeavors, as a Broker with Bluewater.