CLOVER — Lucy and Richard Penegar’s circa 1812 home near Clover stands as witness to some 200 years of American history and changing lifestyles.
The packed dirt-floor basement features a large fireplace where slaves once prepared meals that were taken through a ground-level door in the foundation and delivered to the home’s occupants. A separate, smaller fireplace may have been used to heat water.
The original solid wood front door and heavy window shutters could be closed to create a fortress in the event of an attack. “Back in 1812,” Lucy Penegar notes, “there were concerns about Indians.”
After the Civil War, when the estate’s slaves were freed, Penegar said, a hole was cut in the first-floor center hall and a basement stairway built so occupants could access the cooking area from within the home.
“It has really made me appreciate history, and how people lived before we had all the modern conveniences we have now,” said Penegar.
Richard Penegar, a real estate broker, and Lucy bought the four-bedroom, three bath home on Ferguson Ridge Road, just across the North Carolina state line north Clover, in 1976, after the nation’s bicentennial celebration that year ignited in them a shared interest in history.
The home is one of six stops on the Dec. 8 Clover Woman’s Club Christmas historic home tour. The tour, part of the 2012-13 observance of Clover’s 125th anniversary, will be from 2 to 6 p.m. and proceeds will provide college scholarships for a Clover High School senior. Homes on the tour range in age from 100 to 200 years.
The Penegar home was built from 1805 to 1812 by William J. Wilson, a local justice of the peace who held court in the parlor, because the county seat was in Lincolnton, N.C. It had been passed down through family members until the Penegars acquired it.
The home is built of hand-made bricks, which were laid two layers deep, and hand-hewn beams secured by wooden pegs. A crack in the exterior brick wall is evidence of an 1886 earthquake.
In 1840, Penegar said, Wilson owned 26 slaves, and when he died in 1854, he still had 16 slaves, whom he willed to other family members. Two brothers who were opposed to slavery left the Carolinas and settled in Ohio, she said.
In 1895, she said, a series of improvements were made. The kitchen at the back of the house was added, as were the broad, open porches that surround the original brick structure.
The first floor features 12-foot ceilings except in the kitchen, where the Penegars had the ceilings lowered to keep the room warmer and control heating costs. A 22-step stairway leads to the second floor. The tour is limited to the first floor and basement area.
Penegar said the “uphill” side of the house, which now functions as a back or side entrance, used to be the main entrance, facing a road that no longer exists. “The stage coach came by here and dropped the mail here,” she said.
When the Penegars bought the home, it had been uninhabited for two years. They did some major renovations, including bathroom updates, a kitchen update and expansion and replumbing and wiring.
Lucy Penegar said the couple, who raised their three children in the home, also raise and board horses on the property, which includes 30 acres.
They also offer riding lessons and horse day camps taught by one of their two daughters, Merry. A son, Mark, raises hay and Angus cattle nearby.
Lucy Penegar said home tour visitors will be able to participate in a scavenger hunt that will encourage them to find certain historical items or elements in different areas of the home.
Jennifer Becknell • 803-329-4077