Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Luney Bend

Published: August 11, 2008 (The Register & Bee, Danville, Virginia)
Luna Hollett refuses to let her tobacco-farming heritage die. That’s why she and her husband, Dave Hollett, are having their second home built here out of old tobacco barns from her family’s land in Caswell County, N.C. “It’s the only thing I have to hang on to my agrarian heritage,” Luna Hollett, who lives in Alabama, said Monday during an interview at the site just off N.C. 119.

The lumber comes from five historic, century-old barns the Holletts tore down for the project, and they gathered rocks from the land to be used for porch columns. “All this stone came from the farm (and) not one piece of it bought,” Luna Hollett said. The couple’s labor of love also has a Danville connection — they bought two of the log home’s doors from Dan River Mills, Luna Hollett said.

Luna’s great uncle, Albert Pointer, purchased the Semora, N.C., property in 1903. She inherited about 60 acres when her father, William Wallace Pointer Sr., died in 1965. Luna’s brother and cousins also own separate tracts. When complete, the three-story, 1,800-square-foot home will be the first inhabitable structure on her piece of property. The Holletts’ wooded backyard will include the junction of two creeks in a rocky bottom. The home will be a hybrid — boasting a traditional front and a modern back with large windows for an expansive view of the woods, Dave Hollett said. They named the property “Luney Bend,” partly as a pun on Luna’s name.

The Holletts hired Old Log Homes by Thomas, based in Dobson, N.C., to construct the house. Kevin Thomas, who owns the business with his father, Aubrey, marvels at the early skill of the barns’ builders, dating some of the logs to the 18th century. To preserve the logs’ diamond-shaped cuts, Thomas said he shortened them a foot to avoid damaging the original notches.
The house’s logs were sandblasted to make them appear brand new and to flush out the bugs, Luna Hollett said.

“Considering these logs are about 100 years old, they look pretty good,” she said. Thomas, who’s built homes for 28 years, praises the purpose of the Holletts’ project. “It’s a good way of preserving the logs, recycling (them),” Thomas said. The lumber’s history is a perfect fit for Thomas’s approach to homebuilding. “I like for it to look like it’s always been there,” he said.

Thomas said the home is now in its “ugly stage.” Thomas and his employees are working on the roof and dry-stacking stones for the porch columns. They’re also installing 20-foot yellow pine joists for the second-story floor. Construction on the Hollett home began in early June, but Thomas is cautious when asked when he and his employees will finish the job. “Don’t make me stick my neck out,” Thomas said. Luna and Dave Hollett started tearing down the barns in February 2007 and began cutting a driveway more than a half-mile long the following March.
The Holletts have kept part of their long-term project within the family. Luna’s cousin, Jack Pointer, helped tear down the barns and move rocks. The Holletts are bringing electricity from Luna’s cousins' property to save money on installation costs.

When the home is complete, it will be a dream come true for the Holletts and a coming home of sorts for Luna. Most of all, it will be something of a monument to a vanishing Southern farming tradition.

“What’s sad is looking around at the tobacco fields falling apart,” Luna said.

Pointer Family Photograph Set


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