Körner’s Folly, sitting majestically on South Main Street, is under-going an operation. That’s right, an operation, for rejuvenation of sorts. The strange old house needs work, badly. Kernersville’s most famous home has been the source of constant revision and renovation since the 19th century. Now, in the 21st century, this unusual residence once again is preparing to be reinvented.
Sitting directly on South Main Street, age, weather, and traffic have all taken their toll on this historic house. The intricate masonry on the front and side porches has weathered the brunt of the structural damage over the years. “The brick work on the porches is especially delicate because the bricks were handmade on the property over 132 years ago.” says Dale Pennington, Executive Director of Körner’s Folly.
Wilson-Covington Construction Company, Inc. of Winston-Salem, North Carolina has been selected to complete the extensive structural and masonry repairs to the front and side elevations of Körner’s Folly. “Small repairs have been made to the masonry, but have included the addition of Portland Cement, that has further eroded the face of the original, handmade bricks,” says Hayes Wauford of Wilson-Covington. The original mortar had a very high lime concentrate. Over the years, the bricks have been patched with Portland Cement, which did not adhere to the lime based mortar, and has actually sped up deterioration.
Wilson-Covington will be adding footings below the front porch walls to help prevent future settling. The area of the front porch that extends toward Main Street will be reconstructed with salvaged brick and new, handmade brick from Old Carolina Brick Company. Any new, handmade brick will be made to specifically match the existing bricks. The masonry knee walls and arches at both side porches will be reconstructed on new footings, again using brick salvaged from the Folly and new brick from Old Carolina.
This project is particularly exciting for Wilson-Covington as the President, Clay V. Ring, Jr., grew up on Salisbury Street behind the Folly. Ring constructed his first home on the lot next door, just north of the Folly. In a curious twist, the current resident of Ring’s home is now the great grandson of the original builder of the Folly.
“The Folly is an irreplaceable piece of Kernersville history and today remains standing through community support. Our goal is to eventually restore the Folly to its former elegance and beauty, as a lasting landmark for generations to come,” says Pennington. Plans are to stabilize the house structurally, and then focus on restoring any interior items such as faded artwork, damaged woodwork, and interior plaster. A membership campaign called “Operation Restoration,” has been launched to coincide with the renovations. The porch restoration was made possible by support from the Lawrence E. Pope Foundation, the Town of Kernersville, and supporters of the Körner’s Folly Foundation.