KERNERSVILLE, NC—Historic Körner’s Folly, 413 S. Main Street, is facing a remarkable challenge.  A $150,000 challenge to be exact, and the structural stability of the house is riding on it.  As it turns out, the Körner’s Folly Foundation is actually welcoming this particular challenge—in fact, the Foundation is downright thrilled.

In August of 2012, an anonymous donor and descendents of the Körner family issued a challenge to the Körner’s Folly Foundation.  They offered to donate $150,000 specifically for the structural restoration of Körner’s Folly, IF, and that’s a big IF, the Körner’s Folly Foundation can raise $150,000.  And there’s more: they must raise the matching funds by December 2013.  If the Körner’s Folly Foundation is successful, they will then have $300,000 to structurally repair Körner’s Folly.  The structural repairs include stabilizing the foundation of the house and restoring the Folly’s iconic roof.  Upon completion, these repairs would structurally stabilize Körner’s Folly for at least the next 100 years.  The matching challenge is certainly a tall order, no doubt about that, but the Körner’s Folly Foundation is hopeful of community support.

The challenge and structural repairs are part of the Körner’s Folly Foundation’s long term restoration plan, “Operation Restoration,” which outlines a mission to restore the exterior and interior of the house.  Exterior restoration has been divided into three major phases:

Phase 1:  Front and Side Porch Restoration (Approximately $160,000) COMPLETED

Phase 2:  Foundation Stabilization (Approximately $100,000) COMPLETED

Phase 3:  Roof Renovation (Approximately $200,000) NEEDS YOUR HELP!

The Körner’s Folly Foundation has consulted with many specialists over the years to develop this long-term restoration plan.  They have patched the roof numerous times and did minor repairs to stay ahead of water damage for decades, and it’s been a costly, uphill battle. But now, Operation Restoration is finally being put into action to proactively preserve the house.

This summer, Phase I of Operation Restoration was launched when the Foundation completely restored the intricate brick masonry of the front and side porches thanks to funding from the Lawrence E. Pope Foundation and the Town of Kernersville.   The challenge has created an outpouring of support, which allowed the Körner’s Folly Foundation to begin Phase II, the structural repairs to the foundation, this January.  The house is reopening for public tours as of March 1, 2013.

And now, if the Körner’s Folly Foundation can complete the $150,000 challenge, Phase III, restoring the roof, will complete the structural stabilization of the house.   Thanks to overwhelming community support, in just six short months, Körner’s Folly is almost half way to their goal; having raised $70,000 to date.  The individuals from all over the community have come together to show support for the beloved, albeit strange, town landmark.

The restoration of the roof is a particularly important goal of Operation Restoration because the leaking roof has prevented any interior restoration for decades.  The red tin roof that currently tops Körner’s Folly was installed in 1954 to replace the original chestnut-shingled roof that had weathered considerable damage.  Now, nearly 60 years later, the tin has weathered considerable damage and poses a unique threat to the eight murals on the top level of Körner’s Folly.  The tin roof heats and cools creating considerable temperature fluctuation and condensation that leaches through the plaster walls, to stain the murals that are located just 10 inches on the other side.  Normally, an insulation layer would combat this problem, but no insulation was installed when the tin roof was put on Körner’s Folly.  The goal of the Körner’s Folly Foundation would be to install a more breathable and insulated roof and explore building materials that are more similar to Körner’s Folly’s original roof.  Restoring the 133 year old house has been no easy task, but the Körner’s Folly Foundation is thrilled at the progress so far, and is hopeful progress will continue.

Looking to the future, now that Phases I & II are complete, once the roof restoration is completed, the next major phase would be to start interior restoration.  Interior plans would include restoring the damaged and faded murals, woodwork, and interior plaster, with the ultimate goal of returning it to a sparkling representation of life in Kernersville in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Armed with a clearly prioritized master plan to proactively restore Körner’s Folly, the board of directors and executive director now have a clearly focused way of seeking funding.  This systematic approach to restoration has proven successful thus far, and shows a strong commitment to the mission to restore and preserve Körner’s Folly for the education and enjoyment of the public.

Interested in helping Körner’s Folly raise the challenge of $150,000?  Every dollar counts; call (336) 996-7922 for more information or to donate today!

This article appeared in the March 2013 edition of Kernersville Magazine, click here to see the full article: Challenging Renovations…March 2013