The Historic Torrance House (aka The Pink House) – 424 N. Poplar Street, Charlotte, NC

This beautiful historic and iconic home has just hit the market. Here we have a letter from the seller describing the home and its extended history:

“Welcome to our home. The Pink House sits in the 4thWard of Charlotte, NC. This neighborhood was gentrified in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. A mission of the Junior League of Charlotte back then, the neighborhood revitalization effort was revived by the Bank of America in the 1990’s as part of Hugh McColl’s vision for the uptown area.

There are 27 Victorian homes in the 4th Ward, but only a few of them are original to the site. 424 N. Poplar Street—in some form—is original. Our lot was once 100’ by 100’; our well is located Pink House copyunder the foundation pilings of 428 N. Poplar.  The history of this house, as related by Mr. Gene LeGrand, dates to post-Civil War Charlotte. The property came into his family in 1898, when it was purchased out of foreclosure by Capt. Richard Torrance, CSA, who also owned Cedar Grove Plantation, next to Latta Plantation, in the Mountain Island Lake area. Capt. Torrance, injured in the war and unable to maintain the large plantation, moved to a house in Charlotte where the Jefferson Condominiums now sit at N. Church and W. 7th streets. He bought this property for his mother and his sister. At that time, there were about six houses on the block, three on N. Church and three on N. Poplar. The home remained in Mr. LeGrand’s family until he sold it in 1948.

The property was purchased by the Knight’s in the late 1970’s and was stripped down to the frame. Wiring and plumbing were replaced and the house was reconstructed with modern updates. Old mill work and doors were gleaned from other period properties and installed here. During some renovations, we uncovered a board that noted that the front door is from a home in Lexington, NC.  The rare oval beveled glass window is irreplaceable. (We have always told the firemen at Engine 4 to knock out any other window in the house in the event of a catastrophe, but PLEASE not the front door window!) Forest Lorick bought the house from the Knight’s. My brother bought the house in 1996. After he went to Chicago, he sold it to Jim and me.

We moved here in 2000 and began a systematic renovation.  We replaced the silver tin roof with a teal 50-year  Pro-Panel roof in 2004, old windows were replaced with Kolbe double hung windows in 2005. The wood windows have an aluminum clad exterior that matches the green roof and were selected for ease of maintenance and to minimize trim painting. We updated the powder room and an upstairs bathroom with tile and modern fixtures. We restored the kitchen cabinets to the original Cheerwine red the Knights used during the 1980’s renovation. We replaced the front porch deck with treated lumber (to satisfy the Historic District Commission) in 2001, the consumption porch deck in 2008 and the back deck in 2009—both with Trex. We installed a patio to replace the old, much larger back deck that we removed.

There is a split-leaf Japanese maple specimen in the front yard. A butterfly Jap maple, rhododendrons and azaleas grace the front garden area, We installed a water garden near the front steps, put zoysia sod in the back yard and prepped a garden border along the wall. The 20 year old August Beauty gardenias near the back gate produce palm-sized flowers that emit an intoxicating fragrance in late spring. The garden area near the red/pink honeysuckle is perfect for container gardening and we’ve raised lots of tomatoes, peppers, beans and herbs there. The back
yard is walled with brick and has two wrought iron gates, a perfect secure place for children to play or for dogs to get some outside time if you’re not up to taking them for a walk!

The wrap-around front porch is perfect for rocking chairs and around the corner, there’s a place for a swing. The porch is perfect for gathering neighbors for a chat and perhaps a cocktail. The back deck may be accessed from the kitchen or the driveway…perfect for back door friends. The driveway has a carport that has been grandfathered by the Historic District Commission. It is the only carport at a Victorian House in the 4th Ward. We have meticulously maintained it to retain this privilege. If it were to be removed, we would not be permitted to replace it.

The front foyer sports two large antique columns that were gleaned by Forest Lorick from a house on Elizabeth Avenue in Charlotte. They have not been refinished, and we love the raw elegance they bring to the front room. The beams are decorative and were installed by Mr. Knight, an architect. The fireplace is wood burning, the mantel is pine. The floors are wide plank pine. Plantation shutters keep the look of the home’s interior simple, elegant and utilitarian.

The “windows” between the living room and dining room were installed by Mr. Lorick, who removed the ¾ full walls to allow more light to pass through from the dining room to the living room. The dining room sports leaded glass French doors that lead to the kitchen. My brother got these from a house in Chicago, restored them and installed them here. There is no “hidden” fireplace to back the one in the living room. Pipes occupy that space, from the upstairs baths to the basement. The wood floors are wide plank pine.

The kitchen is part of the house that was added in the 1980’s renovation by the Knights. They used the same type of wide plank wood flooring. The upper cabinets are custom with leaded glass windows. Morning sun lights the kitchen and the windows are just perfect for growing orchids! The kitchen is large enough for a table and chairs and has been the heart of our home as long as we’ve lived here. There is ample room for dishes and cookware. The pantry/laundry room adjacent to the kitchen serves as a larder for food. We added the wood cabinets, scavenged and up fit to house paper products, food and kitchen appliances. There is also a canning pantry, with shelves fit to house quart and pint jars. The laundry room makes a great “kennel” for a dog, with enough space for a crate and a door for privacy—or peace and quiet!!

The powder room was redesigned and up fit with new fixtures and tile flooring. The water heater is housed in the space under the stairs with the “elf-door.” It would be a great space for an instant-on water heater. (It’s on our list!)

The stairs feature a Victorian “trip step.” It was a security feature in those times to alert that someone was on the stairs. The last step is a half step to trip up someone unfamiliar with the home and alert the occupants. The slot window was installed during the 1980’s repair and it was once the widest window in a residence in Charlotte. This was the longest piece of glass that Mr. Knight could find when he installed it. It makes for a sunbath of warmth and light.

The master at the end of the hall features French doors, wide pine plank floors and plantation blinds. A walk in closet provides plenty of storage. An operational wood-burning fireplace provides atmosphere. The master bath has a skylight and a Jacuzzi tub. The large room easily accommodates a king size bed and would provide enough room for a sitting area.

The hall bathroom has been redesigned and features a tile shower with glass door.

The spare bedroom has wide plank pine floors and ample room for a king size bed. It has a large closet.

The back den is my favorite room in the house! It features a Palladian window to let in the morning sun. This room has been used as a bedroom as well. We repurposed the closet to house our electronics and a bar fridge. We’ve always kept a futon in here for overflow guests to use. The loft may be accessed by the oak ladder. There is a “secret” wall space here that would be perfect for the addition of a spiral staircase. Upstairs, the loft—although not figured in the home’s square footage, adds some bonus space. It was originally an architect studio and was my fiber art studio, but would be perfect as an office or a kid’s tree fort. It’s perfect as an extra sleep over space! The attic may be easily accessed from this space. It has a full floor and offers additional storage. The air handler for the second floor air conditioner is located in the attic. Off the den is the “consumption porch.” Back in the day it may have been used as a convalescent space or a sleeping porch. The deck has been replaced with Trex for low maintenance—and no painting! This porch offers breathtaking views of the Charlotte skyline and a spot for late night/I can’t sleep porch time.

The house also has a dug out basement that was made to provide a space to house the furnace. It served as my clay studio.

The downstairs AC was replaced in 2011, the furnace in 2012 and the upstairs heat pump/AC in 2013. Trex decking was used for the consumption porch and the back deck for ease of maintenance and no painting! We renovated this home as if we would be here forever! The electrical service was updated and a second service was added in 2003 to accommodate a hot tub and potter’s kiln.

The Pink House was on the 4th Ward Holiday Home Tour most recently in 2006—as well as in 1980. It has been featured on the cover of Living Here, the annual neighborhood section of The Observer, as well as several other Observer features. It has been featured in Southern Living magazine, after the Knights restoration. It is featured on the convention poster for the National Realtor’s annual convention in 2008, having been painted en plein air by Jerry Mangum, noted NC artist. Out of the corner of your eye, you can see it in the Showtime series Homeland…

Why are we leaving? If we could pick up this house and move it, we would…but, our journey with the Pink House is at an end. Our kids have married and moved out west and moved to Santa Fe to be closer to them and the grandchildren. Neither of us have blood family here for whom we
have to provide care. We have decided that we had one good move left in us and we  took the plunge. We like it here in the high desert and we’ve decided to stay.

We have enjoyed our time in this house, in this neighborhood. We loved “running the streets” uptown and porch-sitting in our old rocking chairs, having a cocktail and people-watching. We’ve seen the neighborhood develop and grow, made friends that seem like family, entertained out of town friends and relatives, raised container gardens, weekend-only kids and family pets here and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a very, very, very fine house, though the two cats in the yard have left us.

We know that you will find “home” in this. Please be sure to wave to the carriages as they pass on Poplar, showing off the neighborhood to visitors!”
– Bev and Jim


Additional property information:

Structural inspection by Mintich Engineering available upon request. All repairs on report made in Spring of 2016. Pre Listing home inspection performed by Mint Hill Home Inspections in May of 2016 and report available upon request. Front walk is currently being replaced. Garden map available upon request. Owners have complete update and repair history and original deeds to the property.