THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — For several years, Andrew Clement has run a carpentry class at Thomasville High School in Davidson County.
As he went to class, he’d sometimes pass that big, white house on Main Street just a stone’s throw from the old Thomasville Furniture plant. When it was completed in May of 1921, it was the grandest house in town.
“This architecture doesn’t exist anywhere else in Davidson County,” said local historian Austin Hill. “You have an Italian Renaissance Revival style that looks like a house you’d see on the Mediterranean coast.”
Hill knows a little bit about Thomasville. He’s the sixth generation of his family to grow up there. They arrived in 1851.
Clement is much newer to the area. He grew up in Delaware, but he’s just as invested in the town and its history.
So when some friends learned he’d not just visited the Finch House on Main but that he and his wife had bought it: “Some of them thought ‘Man, you’re crazy. Man, you’re crazy’,” Andrew said. “I think guys like me always itch for a cool project.”
“Guys like me” refers to Clement’s family history.
“My brother and I are the 10th generation of Clement bothers in this country who have worked with their hands,” he said. “My grandfathers were absolute, old-school craftsmen. And when you grow up in it, and it’s talked about, and it’s celebrated, and you see a home like this that was built to the perfection that it was, and it’s neglected, man, that just breaks my heart.”
So Clement and his wife, Hilary, went about the arduous and expensive task of restoring the home T. Austin Finch built a century ago.
They restored it to its former glory and have made it an event space, so that the public can enjoy it as well. It’s particularly popular as a wedding venue.
The original home was 3,800 square feet but was doubled in size in 1938 when they also added central heating and air. Finch was the president of what was then Thomasville Chair, which became Thomasville Furniture Industries, and he made it a behemoth in the furniture world.
“He decided to expand their operations a little bit, and they went to more high-end furniture making during the time of the Great Depression. That was a big risk, but it ended up paying off for them,” Hill said.
He had a knack for knowing what would sell. He’d come back from a trip to New York or Europe with ideas that it seemed were always golden Clement said.
See what the home looked like back in the day and now in this edition of the Buckley Report.