What happened to the Vera House?
Published 10:00 pm Monday, April 10, 2017
Remember the consignment shop on Route 176 called Vera’s? I would often stop in to see what new bargains had arrived. When the “Closing Soon” sign appeared I was disappointed until I discovered that the owners had relocated to downtown Landrum, under the name P3.
When the former location, a charming white house, sported a “Sold” sign, my curiosity piqued. Every time I passed the property, I wondered who purchased it, was it now a home, and would another business appear some day? A serendipitous meeting one frosty December day provided me with the answers.
I was on a quest for Christmas gifts. As I entered The Nest, I was greeted by Abbie Doyle. During our conversation, I learned that not only does she make jewelry that is sold in the shop, but she and her fiancé, Andrew Volin, are the purchasers of the Vera house. We exchanged cards and I assured her I would be calling to hear her story.
Now spring is here and it’s a pouring rain kind of day. I’m on my way to have tea with Abbie. I’m excited to see the house, plus learn more about her jewelry making. As I knock on the door, I peek through the window, and see a fluffy, black and white cat approaching. Since a cat often sat on the counter at Vera’s, I was glad to see that another cat is still in charge. Abbie opens the door and eases curious Schmatta aside so he doesn’t escape.
I immediately take notice of a cozy living room, now accented with vintage style pieces. A back-lit window with panes of what Abbie describes as slag glass, similar to stained glass, hangs attractively over the sofa. “That came from a church in Newberry,” she tells me. A fireplace adds a touch of warmth to the room. She continues, “I painted the terra cotta bricks around the hearth to a little darker color, an espresso brown.”
Abbie had never visited the house when it was a shop so she had questions about where things were located and how the rooms were used. The room to the right, where interesting knick-knacks and decorative items were displayed, is now an attractive dining room. I ask about the stunning chandelier that is over the dining table. She points to the two ceilings, “It was hanging in the living room and a ceiling fan was in this room. Since this is now a dining room, we switched the fixtures. The house is a work in progress. We’re slowly changing things to make it more of a house to live in and no longer a shop.”
Abbie shows me a tall window in the dining room, opening onto the porch. “This used to be a door, probably the main entrance. The porch didn’t go all the way across. We have a picture of the house showing how the porch and doors were originally positioned.” She points out where the cement is different color.
Schmatta follows us from room to room, as Abbie continues to show the house and describe their plans. We heat up our water for tea and settle in the dining room. I’m anxious to hear her story and learn more about her jewelry making.
“Andrew and I met on eHarmony. That’s how people meet these days,” she laughs. “I was living in Hendersonville where I had a bead shop for eight years called My Garden of Beadin’. Andrew was living in Columbia, S.C., a long time employee at Lowe’s.”
Motorcycling, collecting, and repurposing vintage pieces brought Andrew and Abbie together. Moving to Landrum was a compromise between the two locations.
“We took a motorcycle trip to the Grand Canyon. In Iowa I discovered we were in the town where ‘American Pickers’ has a shop. It was such fun to have a chance to visit there,” she recalled. They plan to be married in June at the Landrum Depot, a perfect venue that incorporates their love of history and years gone by.
We proceed upstairs and Abbie shows me her jewelry workshop.
“I use pieces like old buttons, belt buckles, what I call ‘rusty bits’, old brooches, and repurpose them into my jewelry,” Abbie explained. She shows me some necklaces hanging on a display that Andrew took from a pump organ. “We’re what you call pickers. Andrew has an interest in old pump organs, takes them apart and uses pieces in different ways. I sell my jewelry at The Nest, now in Tryon, and Random Arts in Saluda. Sometimes when we are overflowing with pieces, it’s time to clear things out. That’s when you’ll see a garage sale sign out front.”
We wander around the upstairs. One walk-in closet has a little door into an attic space, where we lose Schmatta for a few minutes. He enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of the house.
Abbie shows me a window in a bedroom that appears to have been a door. “There was a balcony or a porch out here at one time,” Abbie says. I suggest that it might have been a sleeping porch. “We’re not sure of the age of the house but probably about 100 years old. We know the lots were platted in October, 1915 by Southernland Auction Company for Arthur Moody Kitrell.”
As I prepare to leave, Abbie refers me to Shirley Nanney who once owned the house. Shirley owns My Favorite Shoppe on Hwy. 176 so I contact her next.
She tells me, “I used to have an antique shop there called The White House, beautifully decorated by Edie Gill, who had an interior decorating business upstairs. But I don’t know who originally built it, maybe a family called Davenport. I was told the Davenport daughter was in the movies.”
Shirley’s daughter, Jennifer Tallon, describes a wading pool that was adjacent to the house. “It was filled with mud and branches. But we dug it all out. There were little stepping stones that led to the pool,” she remembers.
It’s been fun seeing the transformation and learning about the history of the house. The vintage style décor reflects the era in which it was built. Thank you Abbie, Andrew, and Schmatta for showing me your lovely home.