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Holiday Village
Holiday Village


Tour of Homes


1:00PM - 5:00PM


Walter R. Sellars House

The Walter R. Sellars House, ca. 1935


Do you remember as a child receiving gifts in textured white boxes with green "Sellars" embossed in flowing script on them?

If you do, you will not want to miss touring this home!

On West Davis Street in Burlington, stands a beautifully understated Dutch Colonial home built in 1935 for Walter Raleigh Sellars. Walter was the youngest son of Benjamin A. Sellars of B.A. Sellars & Sons Department Store. Walter was a twice elected Alamance County Representative to the General Assembly, active member of the Board of Education, and Alderman and Chairman of the Finance Committee, among numerous other civic and religious positions within Alamance County.

Walter’s involvement with B.A. Sellars & Sons Department Store began in 1916 when his brothers B.R. Sellars died and T.L. Sellars became ill. Walter assumed management of the store, and remained actively involved as a purchaser, President, Secretary-Treasurer and general management until his death in 1954.  Walter was the last survivor of the meeting held in 1887 in which the city name was changed from Company Shops to Burlington.  He was 14 years old at the time.  Walter’s wife, Lila Bailey Sellars, lived in the house until her death in 1968.

This two-story frame Colonial Revival "Period House" features a gambrel roof, a full-facade shed dormer, and a brick exterior end chimney. The central bay of the three-bay facade is a side-lighted entrance framed by a one-story porch with pedimented gable roof on slender square posts. The garage was originally detached with a separate chimney and servant’s quarters above the garage, but was connected to the main house sometime after 1968.  An outbuilding with brick chimney and pot-bellied stove originally served as a smokehouse, but was later used as a holiday gift shop and craft studio for one of the house’s former owners. 


The house retains many original details including original doors and hardware, heavy moldings and picture rail, china cabinets, butler’s pantry, and original bathroom fixtures and tile.  The current owners have retained these features, and have restored the front and side porch, wood siding and garage.

Thank you to Lisa Kobrin at May Memorial Library for helping us research the information used in this article. –Sources: Daily-Times News Archive, National Register of Historic Places Inventory. Photo Credit: Darrell Coble. 

Henderson May House

The Henderson May House, ca. 1901


Henderson “Hense” Rufus May was born in Company Shops (now Burlington), on January 16, 1858. He served as railway engineer for the Southern Railway Company for a quarter of a century. Having lived his entire life in Company Shops and Burlington, he was revered by the community and fellow engineers.

May’s attractive one-story cottage was originally two smaller structures that were joined together.  The original house had four rooms.  Around 1910, two additional rooms were added.  Another two-room house located in the neighborhood was relocated and attached to the structure in 1920’s.  As it stands today, this home is a unique combination of a Folk Victorian and mill house reflecting traditional aspects of a home in a mill community.


The house has multiple intersecting roof gables, simple box cornices with returns, a wide frieze and round attic vents.  The doors and windows are surrounded with decorative cornices, chamfered classical corner boards, turned porch posts, and double-leaf glazed doors.  The house features a polygonal bay on the façade with a pyramidal roof, paneling below the windows, and a carved frieze. On the interior, the house retains much of its original bead board walls, multiple fireplaces and expansive 11-foot ceilings.  Although not in a designated historic district, this area of town is frequently referred to as “Old Burlington.”  The house sits at the edge of downtown, adjacent to the South Broad East Fifth Historic District and within walking distance to downtown shops and restaurants.


When the current owners purchased the house in November of 2002, the house was listed “as is, where is and in need of a little TLC.”  The house required six months of rehab before it was habitable.  As part of their extensive five-year rehabilitation, the owners replaced electrical, plumbing, HVAC and exterior siding, and they refinished floors and wall surfaces, preserving as much of the original details as possible.


Although they knew little about the house’s history or its original owner, the current owners had a vision for restoring the home’s original beauty.  The Henderson May House now serves as a reminder that preserving historical architecture is a component of the cultural health and wealth of a community.

Visitors are sure to be charmed by the unexpected eclectic design and interesting use of ordinary objects as art throughout the house.

Thank you to Lisa Korbin at May Memorial Library for helping us research the information used in this article. –Sources: Daily-Times News Archive, National Register of Historic Places Inventory, An Architectural History of Burlington, N.C. . Photo Credit: Darrell Coble. 

Henry Tarpley House

The Henry Tarpley House, ca. 1880


We know the names Tarpley and Trollinger because we see them on street signs, but did you know that in the mid 1800’s the men whom these streets are named after were instrumental in bringing the railroad right through our county?

Sitting unobtrusively on West Front Street in Burlington is a remarkably intact house form that was popular in Burlington, typical of the industrial and textile mill villages of the 1880s.  


The Henry Tarpley House is a traditional vernacular triple-A one-story, one-room-deep cottage with corbelled chimney caps. The rectangular residence features a pressed tin gable roof, original weatherboard siding, simple interior and exterior moldings, and interior brick chimneys. The turned porch posts are connected with lacy sawn work balustrades. It is evident that early on, additions were done to the back of the house.


Records show that Henry Tarpley sold land to General Trollinger who was buying up parcels to be used by the North Carolina Railroad for the coming 8th wonder of the world, the locomotive. Tarpley’s obituary noted that he was an “honest, upright man” who was “well respected by all that knew him.”


On the 1866 survey of Company Shops by John S. Turrentine, the house is shown on the east side of the small creek running through the district, in the approximate location where the house sits today.  Although this style of house became popular in the 1850s, the structure that exists today dates from the 1880s; thus, this structure may have been Tarpley's house, with significant alterations, or the house may have been replaced at some point. In the early 1900s, a nearby adjacent street was named for Tarpley.


The house was purchased by a neighbor in 2003. At that time, the house was in disrepair. A complete restoration of the plumbing, electrical, bathroom, kitchen, and HVAC was performed, and a wall was added between the front entrance and bathroom. Subsequent owners added a deck to the back entry and fenced the backyard. The current owners purchased the house in 2014, and added period appropriate picture molding and repainted the interior.


Only minor alterations have been made to the interior of the house.  The Henry Tarpley House offers the unique opportunity to experience an intact example of a late 1800s mill house, much the way it might have looked 130 years ago (minus the plumbing, electrical and wifi of course!)

Sources: Daily-Times News Archive, National Register of Historic Places Inventory. Photo Credit: Luck Photography

Parker House

The Parker House, ca. 2015


On your way to the post office in downtown Burlington, you may notice a building that isn't quite like the others. Built in 2015, this unique home is much newer than it’s surroundings, but is designed to blend in with Burlington’s eclectic architectural styles.


The design of the house, including the arched windows, accent band, and commercial windows, was inspired by the surrounding urban architecture. The arched garage door resembles that of an historic firehouse, making you look twice and wonder if a horse drawn fire engine ever was housed there. Then you realize the brick is way too new looking for that, but you still might strain to look into the windows to look for an old fire pole. The way this new structure is tucked seamlessly into the streetscape makes you know there is a story here.


Some of the most unusual features of the house are the many new uses of a site-grown, recycled tree. The owner had planted a willow oak in the center of the lot in 1989 before he had the idea to build a house there. When the lot was cleared 25 years later, the tree was cut into nine-foot sections and milled. Half of the tree was used inside the house to build a wall, shelves, stair banister, and coat rack; the other half was made into a seven-foot tall dining room hutch. Also as a way to incorporate what was already there, the homeowner reused the original water meter dating from the 1930’s to decorate a brick wall above the water shut off valve.


The house also mimics the look of bricked up windows from the old Woolworth building on Davis Street. The grated balcony resembles downtown sidewalk utility grates. The back yard was created to be a private urban courtyard retreat. By incorporating these unique features, the house looks as if it has always been there.


Homeowner Richard Parker is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War and is a well known Burlington business man. Parker’s real estate agency, founded by his father B.C. Parker, has been a fixture in downtown Burlington since the late 1960s. Richard and his father worked together for 14 years until 1989 when the elder Parker passed away. Richard then focused his business on property management and the business grew rapidly in the early 90’s and into the 2000’s. In 2009, the business expanded and moved into its current location at the corner of S. Broad and Davis Street. With proximity to Company Shops Market, the Paramount Theatre, church and dining options, Richard made walkable downtown living a reality for himself by building his new home right next door to his office.

Photo Credit: Darrell Coble. 

Cates Cobb House

The Cates-Cobb House, ca. 1918

Sitting prominently on Front and Fisher Streets, the Cates-Cobb House is an excellent example of classic craftsman architecture that was common in Burlington in the early 1900s.  This house was saved from the wrecking ball when it was acquired by Rebuilding Together of the Triangle, a nonprofit that focuses on preserving affordable homeownership and revitalizing neighborhoods by donating home repair and renovation services.  Rebuilding Together, along with their partners and volunteers, have worked tirelessly to restore the historic details of the house, including numerous original fireplaces, shiplap walls, high ceilings and gorgeous original double hung windows.  


The two story wooden clapboard house sits on the street formerly known as Hoke Street, and is capped by a side gable roof, stuccoed gable ends, a hip dormer, deep full-facade front porch with gabled entrance and large square porch posts on masonry piers.  The beautiful latticed leaded glass bungalow windows with decorative muntin patterns have been restored and are fully operational.  A rear addition was added decades ago in what now serves at the kitchen.  


Luther Cates, one of the earliest owners, born in Alamance County in 1874, was a man of “many interests” according to the Burlington newspaper.  He served as local Justice of the Peace, as well as sawmill operator, contractor, machinist, woodworker and merchant.  Luther married Celia Petty in 1899 and raised three children.  The marriage must have been a success as the paper stated the couple had the distinction of sailing the “turbulent waters of the ‘Matrimonial Sea’ without as much as a ripple to disturb domestic concord.” After marriage, Cates and a partner bought the Stafford & Stroud Drug Co., and then opened Stroud & Cates pharmacy which was known by Burlington children for the pet monkey who lived in the back of the store.  After leaving the pharmacy business, Cates pursued other career interests, including an automotive store on the corner of Davis and Worth Streets.  Thereafter, he built his Justice of the Peace office on the corner of Andrews and Worth Streets where he tried people for minor law infractions, and became known as “Judge Cates”.   He was also a civic and religious leader, Alderman of Burlington and Mason.  


The property passed to Hilda Cates, daughter of Luther Cates born in 1903, and ultimately to Hilda’s daughter, Helen Henderson Cobb (born in 1927).  The Cobb family owned it until 1969.   


This house offers 4 bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms, 12-foot ceilings, an open floor plan, all updated electrical, plumbing, kitchen, roof and landscaping., Enjoy the charm and quality of early 20th Century living with 21st Century amenities.

Thank you to Lisa Korbin at May Memorial Library for helping us research the information used in this article. –Sources: Daily-Times News Archive, National Register of Historic Places Inventory. Photo Credit: Darrell Coble. 

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