One of College Hill’s most notable houses is now on the market. The Orlo Epps House is a grand Queen Anne at 808 Walker Avenue with projecting bay windows, gables, dormers and a corner balcony and turret (click here for the Zillow listing). The prospect of the Epps house being restored and becoming a single-family home again, or even an owner-occupied home with an apartment or two, would be a major step for the preservation of College Hill and of Walker Avenue, already one of the best preserved streets in the neighborhood.
The home was divided up into several apartments decades ago, yet many of its most distinctive features are intact. Prominent among them:
- An inglenook, a room-within-a-room with a fireplace just inside the entrance;
- A large front window in the living room bordered with colored glass and topped with a triangular pediment;
- The front porch’s scalloped latticework and oversized finials;
- The original stone steps in front;
- And many original doors, doorknobs and fixtures.
The house is huge for College Hill — 3,668 square feet — and it needs an immense amount of work. It’s being sold as is.
The house is a significant piece of College Hill history. Orlo Epps came to Greensboro in 1890 and quickly became one of the city’s major architects. In 1891 he and partner C.M. Hackett designed the Foust Building on the campus of what is now UNCG. He built 808 Walker for his own family in 1895. While designing a number of prominent Greensboro buildings in the 1890s, Epps also served as professor of physics, mechanics, and applied mathematics at the new North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race, now N.C. A&T. Around 1900 he moved to Washington.
Epps apparently would feel right at home in the political climate of today’s College Hill. In his hometown of Oneonta, New York, he had been a leader of the local Socialist Party — which raises the question of how he ended up in the Greensboro of the 1890s — and advocated for such advanced notions as women’s suffrage and the direct election of senators. He also wrote a book with the provocative title Economic Liberty vs. The Warfare of Wealth (256-page PDF version here; also available as a free Barnes & Noble Nook e-book).
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