Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Community comes together to bring Designer House to the Albemarle Area

2008 Designer House at Bayside Manor
"Embracing the Past and the Present through Design"

Community comes together to bring Designer House to the Albemarle Area


Arts of the Albemarle will host the Albemarle Area’s first Designer House, which will be held at Bayside Manor on 1598 Weeksville Road, adjacent to the Elizabeth City U.S. Coast Guard Base and Elizabeth City’s regional airport. The 1850’s antebellum plantation home is listed the historical registry in Pasquotank County and will soon be transformed by the talents of more than 14 designers and landscapers from Elizabeth City, Edenton, the Outer Banks, Rocky Mount, North Carolina and Tidewater Virginia.

The Albemarle’s first ever Designer House idea came into being when the owners, Jerry and Jeanet Aylsworth, who brought the once decaying manor house back to it’s present condition, decided to sell their home with the Manuli-Stone Real Estate Team. Listing Realtors Cindy Manuli and Angela Stone called The Wright Solution a local interior design company to come into the manor and simply offer staging ideas.

However, Holly Wright, owner of The Wright Solution walked through the Manor, remembering a fellow area designer, Camilla Hull, had wanted to bring a Designer House to the area for many years. After meeting with the owners, Holly Wright, Camilla Hull, Beverly Madrin, Cindy Manuli, Angela Stone, and Diana M. Gardner formed a steering committee and "The 2008 Designer House at Bayside Manor Committee" was underway. With 17 Committee Chairs in place, over forty committee members were approached and agreed to be a part of the work and organization it takes to make a project of this scope happen.

In researching other area designer houses, Wright contacted the Richmond Symphony Orchestra League designer house committee. Richmond’s design committee has helped smaller areas get this type of project started and has been instrumental to the Bayside Manor project.

Bayside was a logical choice for the area’s first Designer House, it is the finest example of the county’s antebellum period prosperity. Originally part of Edenton’s John Hollowell Estate, which totaled more than 750 acres, Bayside was built by Christopher Wilson Hollowell around 1850 and is a 2 and 1/2 story, double pile Greek Revival on 10 acres of land, now zoned light commercial. The Manor still has monumental two story porches; the rear porch is carried across by Doric columns with an intervening second story porch. The entrance, according to Thomas R. Butcho author of On the Shores of the Pasquotank in which Bayside is often discussed, has a front door that "is the rural county’s finest example of the raised tablet motif, an element inspired in part by the designs of Asher Benjamin."

Inside there are eight Greek revival mantels including 2 extraordinary marble mantels with round arched openings. The staircase may have been restored and has a Gothic feel. Bayside was used as a hospital during the Civil War. The Hollowell family is thought to be one of the first North Carolina families to bring soybeans to the Albemarle Area from China. Another fun area fact is that Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton owned the manor house between the Hollowells and the Aylsworths.

One of the first designer committee meetings involved deciding what local entity would benefit from the proceeds. That is when Lisa Winslow, Executive Director of the Arts of the Albemarle, (AOA) was brought into the process.

Arts of the Albemarle is a non profit organization dedicated to economic progress through fostering the growth of arts in the area. The money raised by the Designer House will be donated to AOA because of their history of providing local festivals and a venue for the Arts to shine in the Albemarle Area.

According to Winslow, "the money, will certainly be invested right back into the community." One major Arts of the Albemarle project that will benefit from the Designer House proceeds is the renovation of the Lowry - Chesson Building on Main Street in Elizabeth City. The 110 year old structure is one of the last remaining un-restored vaudeville theaters in America, and will when complete be a major regional arts center; appropriately enough named "The Center". The Center will be home to Arts of the Albemarle’s Regional Art Gallery on the first floor, the second floor will feature a 300 seat theater. The space will be used for wedding banquets, dinner theaters, and theater troupe productions; it is marked to be one of the venues for a proposed International Theater Festival. Other spaces will be used for the AOA School of the Arts, art classes, and AOA’s offices.

The Albemarle Area has a waterfront known world wide for its "Harbor of Hospitality" that includes forty eight hours free docking, along with free Wi-Fi for the boaters and downtown area. Now it is hoping to be known for its Designer House at Bayside Manor. This year’s theme will be "Embracing the Past and the Present through Design".

The Designer House will kick off on August 1st with a black tie gala and opens to the public on August 3rd through August 17th and the 18th through the 24th it will be available to rent for private events. The hours of operation and ticket prices will be posted at www.baysidemanortour.com. Tickets will be available for advanced purchase. The web page will also list Sponsorship and Advertisement opportunities, along with Volunteer opportunities.

There will be special events daily on site and off. The special events, so far, include an area master storyteller, wine tasting, bridge tournaments, musicians, antique car show, autograph signings and much more. The Design house will even offer a daily Caf├ę by Montero’s a local restaurant with special events by other favorite local eateries, along with an on-site Boutique with local art for sale.

The community support and excitement for this project has been impressive. Area businesses that have been part of the start-up are the Manuli-Stone Real Estate Team, Realtor Diana M. Gardner, The Wright Solution, Camilla Hull Design Consultants, The Madrin Consulting Group, Blufish Web Designs, Direct Publications, Carden Printing, City Wine Cellar, Elizabeth City Bed and Breakfast, and Simone Cooper Public Relations and have donated time and talent to making this first year a success.

Many public agencies including, Arts of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City Tourism, and the Chamber of Commerce have been actively working together to make this happen. But most importantly area businesses and private individuals have offered help and in-kind donations in a way unprecedented in this area.

The general public who attends The 2008 Designer House at Bayside Manor will be able to get design ideas, enjoy area talent through the special events, visit a historic local Manor House, and at the same time support a local cause that will give right back to them when it’s all over.

For more information about "The 2008 Designer House at Bayside Manor," please contact Simone Cooper, Simone Cooper Public Relations, at 252-338-6389 or at SCPR@aol.com.

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