When James and Lenora Crabtree built a cabin in Hillsborough in 1937 the couple surrounded the structure with a bustling farm that included chickens, pigs and corn.
Now, a five-acre plot that includes that original cabin as well as an outbuilding and an octagonal structure is up for auction, the first time that the land has been up for sale in just a little less than a century.
“This property is an important part of local history,” Auctioneer Sarah Sonke said. “This is the history of the regular people here — not the wealthy people but the farm people. It’s nice to recognize them because they were active here, they provided a lot of jobs.”
James and Lenora Crabtree had 11 children, and were an active part of the area. Neighbors and Hillsborough townspeople helped them build their cabin, located at what is now 618 NC 86 North.
Their son Newman Crabtree ran a billiards parlor in Hillsborough and his wife, Elizabeth “Sis” Crabtree owned a popular shoe store in town as well.
Another daughter, Helen Crabtree, ran Helen’s Nearly New Outlet in Daniel Boone Village for decades, and married Columbus Samuel “Sam” Gibbs, a local painter, in 1947. The couple purchased the family homestead from Helen Gibbs’ parents in the 1970’s.
The two were active church planters who were involved in ministry work worldwide, and built an octagon post and beam structure on the property using a Topsider home kit. This building — which has large windows-in-the-round and also a basement apartment —served as a church, and the original organ is for sale with the property.
Although both couples who owned the homestead are no longer living, there are several descendants of the Crabtree and Gibbs families still in the area, and Sonke said that they would prefer that the property go to a buyer who will preserve the homestead, rather than tear it down for a new development.
“I’m trying to honor the family with the staging and selling of the property,” Sonke, who has been an auctioneer for nearly 20 years and whose auctioned properties include the James Taylor childhood home in Chapel Hill, said. “Most of the time auctioned properties aren’t in foreclosure, its the owner of the property who would like to move it quickly or who have a unique property like this to sell.”
The homestead has potential. With a two bedroom cabin, the Topsider building with two bathrooms, the Topsider apartment with an additional bathroom and kitchen, five acres and an extra outbuilding, the space is ripe for a home business. There are some improvements to be made — such as adding some kitchen cabinetry and revamping the Topsider building’s basement apartment — but the space is not without options.
“The octagon building was a church, but the natural light that comes in would make it great for an art studio or writing space and I’m fairly sure someone can easily get a variance to have a home business here,” Sonke said. “It’s going to take someone with a vision, but we want someone with a vision rather than some wore who is going to tear it down and clear everything out.”
The property’s value is estimated to be over $300,000, but the homestead will sell to the highest bidder over $120,000. The bid plus a 10 percent buyer’s premium will equal the total sale price. The property is open for viewing and inspections by appointment. The auction is online only, and bidding is open at www.AuctionFirstBid.com through June 6 at 8 p.m. Additional information can also be found on the sight or by calling 919-601-7339.