Featured photo: The Sitting Room inside the Huntley House (photo by Lauren Martinez Olinger)
At the top of the sitting room in the Huntley House hangs a chandelier with dangling emerald green pendants and a delicate floral design on two glass globes. Like many things in this place — which is owned by husband-and-wife team Will Spencer and Christy Cox Spencer — it’s a throwback to an older era.
History lurks in every corner of the Huntley House, a new Airbnb space in Winston-Salem’s Industry Hill neighborhood, as well as in the adjacent private event spaces of Robert Hall. All of the rooms in the house, including the sitting room off the entrance, blend cozy family heirlooms with modern wallpaper, linens and bathrooms. It feels like stepping into the 1920s — which was when this part of the building was built. Cox Spencer, president of marketing company JKS Incorporated, says she should have gone into interior design.
“My passion is aesthetics,” says Spencer. “I love creating a space where people step in and say, ‘Oh, this is fantastic.’”
Spencer was close to her mother-in-law, Ann Spencer, who passed away unexpectedly last year. To keep Ann’s memory alive, she wanted to “put in family pieces to honor her.”
Guests will see personal touches everywhere, from cross-stitched initials to framed samplers that were made for family weddings dating back to 1921. Each of the five rooms is named after someone in the Spencer family, who are featured in photos that line the stairwell.
“This is a place for people who want Winston-Salem history, who want something different from a hotel room, something with character,” Spencer says.
Named after BF Huntley, Will Spencer’s great-grandfather who owned a furniture factory in this part of town, the Huntley House is just one new component of the revitalization happening north of downtown. Other recent developments include Winston Junction Market, the Ramkat and Radar Brewing. Although gentrification may be a concern in the future, this specific area above Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive is removed from residences, with the Bethesda Center for the Homeless, a neighborhood stronghold, just around the corner.
The 1920s theme of the Huntley House continues when guests step through the door to Capone’s Bar, one of the private event spaces in the aptly named Robert Hall. Robert (Bob) McCormick owned a machining company in this building, which was previously a sign company — and before that, at various times, a cafè, doctor’s office, grocery and residence. The house dates back to 1895, and over time, it was added to, joined with neighboring buildings and altered to create what many call “a Frankenstein.”
A keen observer will see the history in the floorboards and walls, but it’s the 26-foot bar in Capone’s that steals the show. Originally from Michigan and built in 1914, along with the matching cash register, it’s said to be from one of Al Capone’s haunts.
Downstairs, and next door to Radar Brewing, the Vault is a larger event space with a 700-square-foot catering kitchen. The Art Deco theme is here too, evident in the signage and entryway, with one of Ann Spencer’s sideboards. One may also notice all of the vintage doors, which Will Spencer repurposed from other parts of the building as well as from downtown’s Pepper Building and even a schoolhouse in Wisconsin.
Spencer, a self-admitted “hoarder,” says he repurposed a lot of things in the building and installed them himself — from knotty pine boards used as paneling in Capone’s Bar to the neon signs he found in the basement of JKS Incorporated, which is adjacent to the Huntley House.
All told, the private events that will be held in this space are sure to be classy, with personal and historical touches. Even the Wishing Well on the patio is designed around the old well that used to source the house on the property.
“There are so many stories in each little piece,” says Cox Spencer.
The Huntley House and Robert Hall are located at 874 N. Liberty St., W-S. Learn more at roberthallwsnc.com and @RobertHallWSNC on Facebook and Instagram.
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