If you take a walk along Raleigh’s historic Blount Street, you will notice multiple examples of architecture depicting the different eras that have spanned the city’s life. Among those is one of the city’s clearest and well-defined examples of the Second Empire style: the Heck-Andrews House. Across the street from the lieutenant governor’s office and just steps away from the governor’s mansion, the Heck-Andrews House was completed in 1872 and occupied until the late 1980s. Since then, the house has stood vacant, preserved in time, all but for the exterior renovation completed by its last owner, the state of North Carolina, in 2014. But now the house and its new owner, NC REALTORS®, stand on the precipice of a new adventure. Preserving the house’s history is an important part of cementing NC REALTORS®’ position, not just in Raleigh, but also across our state.
As we embark on the renovation journey to bring the house back to its original glory, while also creating a top-flight event and office space, we want to take you back to see the history of the house, NC REALTORS®’ role in the state capitol and what the future holds. For up-to-date information on the renovation, check out ncrealtors.org. We will be launching a blog in mid-March to give you an inside look at the progress.
Heck-Andrews: Then and Now
When the land for the home was purchased in 1869 by Colonel Jonathan Heck and his wife, Mattie, Raleigh was a much different place than it is today. For starters, Blount Street terminated just past the house at North Street. This meant that the home they proposed would stand as a pillar of the growing community and as a landmark for the area. The construction followed exacting specifications, set forth by Mattie Heck, to follow in the traditions of the Second Empire design aesthetic. Col. Heck was himself a lawyer, industrialist and a real estate developer who had a strong interest in development, both on a personal and civic level. From its very design, the house was intended to be built in the best manner possible, using top-of-the-line materials, including window glass imported from France.
The home was completed in 1872 and inhabited by Col. Heck and his descendants until 1921 when the home was purchased by Alexander Boyd Andrews, Jr. During the early part of Andrews’ residency, the house underwent significant renovations, including the installation of modern plumbing and electrical systems. Andrews lived in the house for just shy of 30 years, selling it in 1948 to Julia Russell and her daughter, Gladys. During the Russells' residency, the house was entered into the National Registry of Historic Places in 1973. However, very few upgrades or renovations were made to the house between 1948 and the 1980s, and when Gladys Russell moved out in the late 1980s, the house had fallen into a state of significant disrepair.
The house was later acquired by the state of North Carolina in 1987 and generally sat vacant ever since. The state did approve and begin a significant exterior renovation of the property in 2012, which was completed in late 2014. This project repaired many of the exterior features, which were damaged from years of limited upkeep, and also restored the house to its original period color scheme. Though long speculation existed about the house’s future, it was not until Governor Pat McCrory proposed a project to sell state properties and improve the aesthetic of downtown Raleigh that it became clear.
During a press conference in 2014, Governor McCrory unveiled what he referred to as “Project Phoenix,” an aggressive plan to sell or revitalize unused state assets throughout the Raleigh area. The plan proposed the sale of many of the properties along Blount Street, including the Heck-Andrews House. Governor McCrory’s goal was to see the area around the state government complex restored to an enviable position, as well as to allow private interests to utilize these properties. Monies to support Project Phoenix were also included in the governor’s $1-billion Connect NC Bond package, which was approved by voters in early 2016.
With the Heck-Andrews House listed for sale, NC REALTORS® leadership considered the opportunities the house would provide for the association and its members, including easy access via proximity to legislators and other elected officials, plus a high-profile location to host decision makers and influencers. Additionally, the property’s location affirms the REALTOR® brand as the most powerful real estate association, associates the brand with historic preservation and adaptive reuse and makes NC REALTORS® more accessible to consumers and corporate partners through prime, urban event venue space. With that in mind, the NC REALTORS® Board of Directors approved the purchase of the house during their meeting in January 2016, setting the association on a path forward to reclaiming this historic property and restoring it to its original glory.
NC REALTORS® in Raleigh
As one of the leading trade associations in North Carolina, the presence of NC REALTORS® staff in the state capitol cannot be understated. The Raleigh office of NC REALTORS® was first opened in January 1995, staffed by a small, but effective, government affairs team. Since then, the staff has grown to more than eight Raleigh-based individuals housed in the One City Plaza Building on Fayetteville Street. Comprised of lobbyists, political operatives and political fundraising experts, the NC REALTORS® government affairs team supports the association’s advocacy efforts and ensures that the voice of real estate is clearly heard by decision-makers at all levels. Soon the team will have a physical, front-row seat to the center of North Carolina’s political action — all from Blount Street — now that the Heck-Andrews House is officially part of the NC REALTORS® family.
The Future of Heck Andrews
In addition to serving as the home for the NC REALTORS® government affairs team, the Heck-Andrews House will soon serve as a boutique event space for both association events, as well as rental by the general public. Given the property’s unique architectural and historic characteristics, it will be the perfect location for everything from small wedding receptions to pop-up dinners, receptions and much more. The NC REALTORS® events and communications teams are developing a comprehensive marketing plan for the property to promote the space for consumer use once renovations are completed in November 2017.
Given the original builder/occupant’s affinity for real estate development, one may believe that Col. Heck would be proud the Heck-Andrews House has come full-circle, returning to its real estate-owner roots, while being restored to its original glory. Be sure to monitor NC REALTORS®’ website and social channels for updates on our progress, and plan to visit us in Raleigh later this year for our grand opening event. It’s slated to be one “Heck” of a party.