Celine and Aubrey Meador were announced the winners of the Mebane Historical Museum’s Preservation Award at a ceremony the evening of Oct. 15 honoring the participants in this year’s Harvest House Tour. The Meadors, who purchased the home at 7920 E. Washington Street known as the “White House,” have been renovating the 120-year-old property for the past year.
The following information on the 2018 Preservation Award winners was provided by the Mebane Historical Museum within the program of this year’s Harvest House Tour.
7920 E. Washington Street (Celine and Aubrey Meador)
The “White House” has been a Mebane marvel for as long as it has existed. Built in the 1890s, its land has recorded documents that reach far back into the early 19th century. The structure we see today has evolved over the last 128 years. Built on to, over, and around, additions have been added, and the lot size has changed, but the building’s grandeur has remained an identifier throughout.
Reverend Peter Tinsley Penick (1826-1886) purchased three contiguous tracts with his second wife, Eliza Bingham Penick (1833-1910) from Eliza’s brothers, Robert and William Bingham, in 1871-72. Eliza and Peter may or may not have lived in a small two-room structure on the property. Upon Peter’s death, Robert Bingham purchased the property back from Penick’s estate thusly allowing Eliza to finish out her years in Iredell County, where Peter’s final ministry was located.
Arthur White purchased the land from the Bingham family and either he, or his relative, James Samuel White, began building a home there. Arthur eventually sold the property to James Samuel who completed the first iteration of the home circa 1890-92. White Furniture factory had been up and running for more than a decade and ostensibly the family was doing well financially. We will likely never know what the original structure looked like, but one can see on the second floor of the home where the first home ended and the first addition began.
Carpenters have unearthed lumber dated from 1910, plumbing fixtures from the early 1920s and other fixtures still from the 1930s. No property deed was issued by Alamance County on the property until 1940, when it may have passed out of the White family for the first time.
The connection to the White family continued with Mr. Phonse Bean. Mr. Bean arrived in Mebane in 1944 to become the Director of Manufacturing at White Furniture. In 1954 Phonse and his wife Olna purchased the White House and began to leave his own mark as they raised their children in the home on its six acres of land complete with a pond. Phonse retired in 1983 and in 1988 he and his wife signed the home over to Carolyn and Bernie Bean and for the sum of $10 rights to the use and upkeep of the pond were given to Olna and Phonse until his death in 1995.
The current owners have been working to restore the home to its original formal residential identity. Plaster crown molding replete with carved ornamentation will be returned to first floor rooms, the dining room has been expanded into what had been a portico nearly doubling its size. Walls have been stripped to the studs, floors resurfaced, a second story deck above the grand room/den is underway, and a gracious patio for entertaining outback has been planned. This property will be at its showcase best on the 2019 Harvest House Tour.