House History Our Projects Vincent Allen Project

Divine Intervention: Allen House Update!!!

June 3, 2018

I want everyone to meet Mr. Amato. Some of you might be wondering who he is, some will recognize his name, but I want EVERYONE to know who he is. So sit a bit and read on.

Remember back when we tried so hard to attain the Crudup house, yet our efforts were in vain as we did not get the house. We were all upset, including everyone on my Facebook page. It was hard to see beyond the disappointment, but we carried on and started looking for another house. Nothing seemed to be sticking out to us like, this is it!!! Until now.

Back in February I heard from a lady that follows my page on Facebook, Bridget Harris. She works at an attorney’s office that handles tax foreclosures for Vance County. She told me about a house that was going up for auction. The build date of 1790 was what made her think of me. I have never met her, but hope to real soon. She gave me the address. I drove out to it that day! My first thought upon seeing it was, heck no!!! It is more work than Crudup house! Then I walked into the summer kitchen, a small dependency building out front. I took one look at those fireplaces and thought, okay, this was a significant family, and there were signs there was plaster on the walls in the summer kitchen!! Not very common!

I tried many ways to search the house online, but was coming up with nothing, but knew it had to be significant. The following morning I had an idea that I woke up with. I tried that idea on Google, and BINGO. When I read the history I was seriously saying to myself, HOLY CRAP!!!!! I immediately texted Jeremy and said, HOLY CRAP!!! Then I messaged Bill Harris, HOLY CRAP!!!! The first one to reply would get to hear what I found online. Lol. It was Jeremy. I think his response to the history was, HOLY CRAP!! We are such refined people. 🙂 You can read the history here.

Back to Mr. Amato. I showed up at the Vance County Courthouse on a cold and blustery March day. My first ever auction. Had absolutely no clue what I was doing!! As we waited for it to start, everyone gathered was kind of eyeing each other. I stared at my phone the whole time because it was really awkward and seriously, I had no clue what I was doing! Then in walked Mr. Amato. He was using two canes. He had his gray hair pulled back in a pony tail. He immediately started approaching people and introducing himself. He never approached me, but pretty sure I made myself unapproachable. He did win the auction, but for some crazy reason, people can still submit upset bids for a period of time. I stayed in contact with Bridget during the couple of months as people submitted upset bids. I told her, if it looks like he is going to hit a roadblock with someone with deep pockets, or a developer wanting the ten acres, let me know. Won’t be the first time I have taken on a developer!! Probably won’t be the last!!

This property is in Mr. Amato’s family line, well his wife’s. His wife’s grandparents are buried in the side yard. He and his wife used to live in the house for many years. As they got older it became harder and harder for them to keep up with an older house. They sold it to a lady that promised to work on it. For whatever reason, that lady up and left it. Mr. Amato reached out to her many times asking if she needed financial help, or if there was something he could do. She never replied to him. Due to that, the house sat abandoned and the elements took over and that’s why the house is in the condition it is in. They could do nothing, but watch it slowly deteriorate. Just imagine that feeling!!!!

Mr. Amato told me he lost sleep over that house. He felt guilty for ever letting it get out of his family. He felt guilty looking at his wife knowing that the family cemetery where her grandparents were buried was now in limbo. He was determined to get that house back in his family.

Then one day, he met a lady outside of an auction with a tee shirt on that said, Old House Life. I wondered after that auction, how can he take on such a massive job as that house. I decided to stick around to meet him and to offer him help. Like I told him that day, I don’t want anything in return, I just know I have some awesome followers on Facebook and they would LOVE to help you clean it up. So once you get the house back, let me know and I will get you some assistance.

Fast forward to this past week. He finally won the auction!!!! Bridget at the attorney’s office finally met him at the closing. She contacted me and said Mr. Amato wanted to speak with me nd she gave me his number. I called him last week and we had a very nice long talk. We finally met again today.

We don’t have it all figured out yet, but the big news is,  Mr. Amato is giving me the Allen house!

We have many things to discuss, people can always change their minds and like I told him,  I don’t want him to do anything like that without fully thinking it through over many days. He said to me today, “I am following my heart and I am settled on this. I think it is a divine intervention that I met you that one day.” Even though he first thought I was a spy for a developer in Raleigh. Seriously, he did.

He said there is no way he can take that house on by himself. He wants the cemetery protected, he wants the land protected, and the house restored and then protected. I assured him we can help him with that. Jeremy does that for a living! We can put protective easements on it all. Jeremy and I are meeting him on Thursday for a good sit down meeting to discuss it in depth. But seriously, life sure can be funny!!

If this all works out like I think it will, we will need a huge volunteer effort from the community!!! Not just in man hours, but monetarily and through services donated. I think Mr. Amato doesn’t just need this house saved; I think he needs to see the activity at the house and people reaching out to help. He spent years watching the house deteriorate and could do absolutely nothing because he signed it over to the wrong person. So this is a time for all of us to step it up and not only save a house, but to help a sweet and generous man out.

What are our plans in the long term? We envision a living history museum, and a place that can be rented out for events. Any money made from the house will go back into the house to maintain it. The saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. And like Mr. Amato said today, he and I were supposed to meet.

And how sweet is this? We spent over an hour together today. He took me to see Captain Charles Allen’s elusive grave. We needed a four wheel drive truck to get to it!  Captain Allen was George Washington’s friend!!! I finally saw it, included it in my pictures to this post, and now I know exactly where it is for history’s sake!

He drove me back to my car at the Allen house and yelled out to me as I walked back to it, Hey, Michelle! Can I take you out for some ice cream?! My treat!

How nice and sweet is that??!!! I had to decline as I had to get all the way back to Wake Forest to get Claire. I asked for a rain check, but I felt so bad!!!! Jeremy and I will be spending time with him on Thursday, so I feel good about that! 🙂

Pretty sure my sister is proud right now!!! And maybe she arranged this meeting. 🙂