Huntersville legacy lives on
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – A decade seems like a long time to the Herald Weekly, but for one of north Mecklenburg’s oldest and best-preserved landmarks, it’s a blink of an eye.
The Hugh Torance House and Store has stood on Gilead Road since 1779. It is the oldest standing house and store in the state.
The Herald Weekly reported on the homestead, which includes the Cedar Grove mansion next door, back in 2002.
Dick Banks, a descendant of the Torance family, and his wife Belle spent their lives restoring and preserving the Cedar Grove home where they lived and raised their children. The May 10, 2002, article previewed “On the Grounds at the Hugh Torance House,” a celebration on the Bankses’ property and fundraiser for the Hugh Torance House and Store historic site.
The Mecklenburg Historical Association holds an easement to operate and preserve the building, still owned by the Banks family. Belle and Dick Banks both have died, but their son still lives in Cedar Grove.
The historical association is getting ready for another celebration this week. The house and store will open Sunday, April 1, for the season. The house and store will be open from 2 to 5 p.m. the first and third Sunday of the month through the fall.
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce President and Chairman of the Historical Association Board Bill Russell and a group of volunteers and board members spruced up the property March 25 to show off to the public this weekend.
“We don’t have a lot of history in north Mecklenburg. Most of it’s under water,” Russell said. So the Torance house stands out.
Historical association member Ann Williams has been involved with the Torance house since the early 1990s. She found a passion for this site through the numerous records the family kept from its arrival on this continent in the 1760s. Hugh Torance built the original structure in 1779. His son James ran the store until cotton became the more profitable business in the 1820s, Williams said.
The family records reside in UNC Charlotte’s manuscript collection. They record so many details that Williams says they almost illustrate daily life in the house. The information enriches the historical experience for both volunteers and visitors.
“So you can interpret history with a great deal of detail at the site,” Williams said.
The wealth of information and connection with the house inspired Williams to write a book, “Your Affectionate Daughter, Isabella,” the salutation Isabella Torance used to end her many letters to her father, James, who built Cedar Grove.
Williams says Dick and Belle Banks’ efforts to preserve Cedar Grove and the Hugh Torance House and Store have meant everything for the historic site.
“They got a community of people involved,” Williams said. “They raised an enormous amount of money to restore the house and stabilize it so we still have it.”
The Torance house got a new roof in the late 1990s. Workers restored hand molding about the front mantel. The solid logs stand strong throughout the house, with periodic renovations keeping it safe for the public.
The store will be operational when the house is open, with examples of candle molds, toys linens and goods from the 1800s.
Want to learn more?
For more information on visiting the site or getting involved, visit torance
houseandstore.com, call 704-875-3271 or email Ann Williams and firstname.lastname@example.org.