“Heritage” is something we receive from a predecessor, something we cherish, and want to preserve. Porterdale leaders and citizens are working hard to preserve the town’s rich heritage. But as they preserve icons of their past, they are also building an exciting future.
Examples of Porterdale’s historic preservation are easy to pick out: the Porterdale Lofts, main street buildings and shops, the depot, and the gymnasium. And now more subtle representations are beginning to be noticeable – the renovation of old mill village homes into attractive new residences. One of the nicest examples of these renovations is the home of Carol Jordan.
Ms. Jordan moved to Porterdale several years ago after the death of a spouse. She no longer needed a large home to maintain and downsized into an apartment in the Porterdale Lofts. Frequenting the stores and restaurants she became involved in community groups and activities. It didn’t take long to realize that Porterdale was exactly where she wanted to be.
In late 2013 a dilapidated little mill village home came on the market, conveniently located close to the town center. Ms. Jordan realized that the historic home was a great value. She had a vision of what she could make it. So she quickly bought the home and set about finding someone to help her make her vision reality. She found that person, also a Porterdale resident, in Marvin Moore.
Mr. Moore, a general residential contractor, had already renovated and restored several village homes, including his own residence. He began demolition on the home’s interior in February 2014. Ms. Jordan moved into her “new” home in June after four months of extensive renovation of the home’s interior and exterior.
The Jordan home was a six-room shotgun style built by Bibb Manufacturing to house mill workers in 1920. It was one of 150 six-room homes they built that year. There was a large number of workers required to operate the mill, fleeing farms and rural areas, and needing housing and services, while only mill owners had money to provide those needs. So Bibb built the houses, maintained them, and offered them to their employees at very low rental rates.
The six-room houses were single-story, wood frame bungalows with hipped roofs and a shed roof front porch. Two entry doors opened off the front porch because each house was shared by two families. A wall down the center of the house separated the living space. The families shared a single bathroom built on the enclosed back porch.
Ms. Jordan and Mr. Moore have carefully maintained the historic look and character of the original house. The same basic house is there. The comfortable front porch is still there. The architecture of the small mill village homes is still evident. Original wood floors, some salvaged from beneath six layers of linoleum, have been restored and refinished in rich dark colors. Several of the small coal-burning fireplaces were maintained with new mantles and surrounds. But beyond those features, the home bears little resemblance to those of the 1920s.
The exterior features pleasing earth tone paint in place of the stark white. Stacked stone supports the broad front porch, and the new roof is covered with a dark earth-color metal. The two bedroom, two bath interior is comfortable and inviting with soft earth tones accented with rich, dark wood trim, modern tiled baths, and an attractive chef’s kitchen with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and a convenient island. Ms. Jordan says her favorite feature is her backyard. “I can live out here almost year round,” she said.
Within the fenced area between the newly-built garage and the house, and beside the covered breezeway connecting the two, lies a large outdoor living space perfect for relaxing and entertaining. Flower beds and patio areas with comfortable furniture surrounds a large fire pit. Two raised planting beds provide space to grow all the vegetable and herbs that Ms. Jordan can use. And beside the garage wall stands an old claw-foot bathtub, salvaged from another Porterdale renovation, perfect for filling with ice and cold summer drinks for friends.
Ms. Jordan’s home is a perfect example of what can be done to preserve the historic village past and promote the modern Southern living lifestyle far into the future. No one from the tiny settlement of Cedar Shoals with its 17 homes and three small brick factories beside the Yellow River would recognize the bustling Porterdale of today. And current residents, like Carol Jordan, are no less passionate about preserving Porterdale’s heritage and ensuring a bright future than were its founding fathers.