The Rock House
I have been writing about the “Rock House” for over 20 years. I fell in love with this old, almost abandoned property in 1972. My first real job after high school was with Dan River Inc. in Mebane. I was very fortunate my Aunt Dorothy worked for this company, and she recommended me for a job as a receptionist at their newly built warping facility in Mebane. I was living in Caswell County where I grew up and Aunt Dorothy lived in the Anderson community. Every day we rode together to work and every day we passed by the farm at the corner of highway 119 and Lynch Store Road. I have very specific memories of seeing an older couple sitting in the front yard under the stately oak trees during the hot days of summer. I dreamed about this place. It’s tug on my heart lasted for more than 25 years. I could not drive past this place without a deep yearning to live there.
I REALLY REALLY Wanted to Live in that Rock House
Fast forward to 1998, I went to the courthouse in Graham to see who owned the property. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson lived in Connecticut and this farm was going to be their retirement home. I asked to meet with them on their next visit to the farm. Mr. Anderson had a quirky kind of personality, but I could see how much he loved coming down to the farm and working on his blue Ford tractor.
Photo February 28, 1938 – Robert Lynch, Buddy Durham
He would piddle around the property on his visits, but I could tell the property including the Rock House needed a lot of attention. He had tried renting it to some young college kids for a while, but it became a party house. I was able to convince Mr. and Mrs. Anderson of my deep longing to live on this property.
When I told him my daddy worked on Ford tractors, that was it. We had something in common. My daddy worked on Mr. Anderson’s Ford tractor and got it running. Going through pictures and paperwork relating to the Rock House, I found the list of parts and the quote daddy gave Mr. Anderson for repairing his tractor. It really brought back memories of that time when I saw my daddy’s handwriting. I remember Mr. Anderson telling me that several people had contacted him about the Rock House property, people who had lots of money, but he didn’t really care about them. It really wasn’t about the money, but a connection to the farm.
Photo February 28, 1938 – Left to Right: Blanch Hillard, Ann Lynch, Lillie Lynch, Jrnny Lynch, Buddy Durham, Margaret Lynch.
And the Rock House was Ours!
The lease was drawn up and I added one request at the very end of the contract if they ever decided to sell the Rock House property I would have right of first refusal. That became very important two years later when we purchased the property in September 2000. That was the beginning of Iron Gate vineyards and our journey to starting the winery.
That first month I tried to keep a journal of the work we were doing at the Rock House and on the farm. Read my journal from April 1998. It was a labor of love.
I’m writing about this time in my life because I want people to understand that even though we tore down the Rock House in 2006 to build a more livable home, the time we spent there was treasured. The decision was not made lightly. I kept many pieces of the house such as all the rock off the house, the old grist mill stones (one from the chimney, one from the front porch), light fixtures and many other keepsakes.
I hope you enjoy the pictures!