Now restored to its full former glory, the home of Yancey and Jennifer Powers on Snake Creek Road has been officially placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Originally built in 1910 by gentleman farmer James Martin, the elegant three-story home was constructed around the same time as the famed Sidna Allen House in Fancy Gap. Old black and white photos of the residence show many similar characteristics and color patterns of the Allen House, built just a few miles away, leading the Powers family to believe it very well could have been built by the same crew.
Though the old Martin homestead has had a handful of owners during its century-plus of existence, the Powers family is just the second to actually live in the home. Previous owners Elizabeth Prince and Jim Poff both had plans of turning it into a bed and breakfast, but were never able to fully complete renovations of the Snake Creek Road home. It is a dream the Powers would like to fulfil at some point in the future.
“Mrs. Poff wanted to turn it into a bed and breakfast and we have it registered as a bed and breakfast, but because of our son we can’t run it yet. Nobody wants to go to a bed and breakfast and hear, ‘MOM, DAD,’” Yancey Powers said. “Mrs. Prince, she wanted to run it as a bed and breakfast also. So we got it licensed and registered as a B&B. We have had some people come and stay but we have never actually opened the doors to the public.”
In many ways, the home seems to be meant for Yancey and Jennifer Powers. Yancey is an architect with WM2A Architects and his wife is an interior designer. Their expertise, knowledge and love of old homes drove them to complete renovations on the 3,800-square foot house that Poff or Prince could not. Originally owned by Martin, the farmhouse was built in 1910. His first wife and many of his children died of the flu epidemic that killed millions around the time of World War I.
Martin remarried Nettie Largen Martin, known by most as “Miss Nettie,” in the early 1920s. At the time, she put her teaching career on hold to focus on being a mother and a housewife. After her husband died in 1939, she became a dedicated farmer, owning the home and over 700 acres associated with the property at the time. She eventually returned to teaching at Snake Creek School, which was built within a few hundred yards of her home. The school and an old meat shed associated with the home are also on the National Registry of Historic Places. Before passing away in 1983, Martin lived a meaningful live that currently serves as inspiration to the current woman of the home.
“I like that she was very generous to the people that she lived around. If somebody needed something she could go over here and give it to them. There was a pantry in her home and she would open it for people who needed food,” Jennifer Powers said. “If they needed an acre of land to build a house on, she would give it to them. The third floor was used as a library and if someone needed a book, she would give them a book. She even allowed people to board here. I think she was a very generous person in that aspect and that she could help all the surrounding community.”
Miss Nettie lived out her last few years in a nursing home and the Snake Creek Road residence remained vacant until it was purchased by Elizabeth Prince sometime around 1988. Prince had planned to turn the residence into a bed and breakfast, but she was unable to fulfil that dream. Its next owner, Jim Poff, began renovations on the home and continued the process of getting it placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. At that time, half of the porch was missing and parts of the home were caving in from sitting empty for nearly 30 years. Poff did a lot of work on the home before auctioning it off when his wife fell ill with cancer and passed away.
“Since we have gotten it, we have done some finishing touches we wanted and then a few things Mr. Poff didn’t get around to doing. Basically his wife got cancer and died pretty quickly and they didn’t have a lot of time. I think his heart wasn’t in it anymore and I think he was just trying to finish it up enough to get it up for sale,” Jennifer Powers said. “He told us what he envisioned to do and we could carry on and do that. There was a bathroom on the third floor that wasn’t finished out that we did, one on the second floor, and we added a deck on the exterior just so we could have some outdoor living.”
Having lived in Historic Macon, Georgia, the Powers family said the house immediately spoke to them when they began looking for homes in Carroll County earlier this decade.
“We loved old homes and we just loved the history of them. They are just not built like the newer homes and we just liked something with character,” Jennifer Powers said. “Just the history of it and coming from Macon, Georgia, we love the turn-of-the-century homes down there. You have the big porches and the outdoor living.”
It’s been an ongoing project to get the home completed and placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, but it is one the family would not trade.
“It’s something we like doing. When we lived in Georgia, we lived in downtown historic Macon. We had neighbors 15 feet on one side, and less on the other,” Yancey Powers said. “We always said we wanted a piece of land, something with water on it, a weekend retreat kind of thing. The house we came to look at was the Davis Bourne Inn in Independence. We tried to put an offer in and we couldn’t agree to it, but we are glad it worked out that way because of the location and the people around here. It was a better location and a better fit for us for a lot of different reasons.”
It doesn’t take long to look inside the 1910 home to see the Powers know what they are doing. Filled with beautiful antiques and oozing with southern elegance, you would never know the residence sat in disarray for three decades.
Poff reinstalled the original flooring to the home and added the mechanical system and finished out most of the plumbing. Yancey Powers said all that was really left to do was to “finish up the last little bits and pieces.” Willis Family Construction took on the huge task of painting the entire exterior of the home – a process that took three weeks. Once everything was painted and looking sharp, the family contacted the National Registry of Historic Places to finish that process.
“We were kind of waiting to put the plaque on until we got all of it painted,” Jennifer Powers said.
The home itself is a typical foursquare with the main entry and four rooms inside, a pattern that continues on each of the three stories that encompass the residence. While the Snake Creek Road residence has been referred to as Queen Anne-style in the past, Yancey said it is far from a Queen Anne. It has characteristics of a Queen Anne, but is really more of a “farmhouse, but in an upperscale kind of way,” Jennifer said.
“You compare it to the Sidna Allen House and that home definitely has more detail work to windows and trim pieces. This was maybe a cutback version of that,” Jennifer Powers said. “In the original picture you can see the witch’s peak like the Sidna Allen House has and it has some of the decoration and trim of the Sidna Allen House, so it is a contemporary of the same time and if you look at them there are a lot of the details that are similar.”
According to local historian Ron Hall, the Powers’ home was one of the first in Carroll County built with indoor plumbing and electricity. A Delco Generator was used to power four light fixtures and a radio in the house. Those light fixtures are still in the home today, they were just rewired at some point over the years. A couple of mantles inside the home were missing, but the Powers have been able to easily replace them with period-correct pieces.
Thanks to the painstaking recordkeeping process previous owners of the home took, everything was labeled and easy to find and replace when needed. For instance, the original “dragon-scale teeth” and lightning rods have been restored to the roof. The majority of the colors were kept original in the home, although Jennifer Powers certainly has added her own designing flair to other parts. Some walls and ceilings were painted lighter colors because the inside of the home was so dark with a lot of stained flooring and walls.
Many family heirlooms and antiques from the time period are prominently displayed throughout the home. One feature that is sure to stay original is a signature on a third-floor wall.
“We didn’t notice it until we lived here a couple of years. We think it says I.B. Horton. He lived on Snake Creek just a few miles from here,” Jennifer Powers said. “Maybe somebody will see it and realize they are a descendant or know some of his history.”
One of the more charming aspects of the home’s interior is on the second floor, where bay windows open up to take in the sun. There, Jennifer’s grandmother’s table serves as a place for the family to play board games – much like she did when she was a child with her grandmother on the same table.
“She passed away before we moved here, so she never got to see it, but I feel like it’s part of her in here,” Powers said.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN