Another experience in which I was just there, and wyrd happened.
The Heck-Andrews House is an amazing relic in Raleigh, North Carolina, and as such is dying history. It’s an absolutely gorgeous home, slated for ruin, and it’s alive, not just with history but with a perspective on this area that few others have. Needless to say, the place haunted me, and it haunts me, still. For years, I’ve tracked its restoration meticulously and spoken boldly about its demise. At this point, I’d be happy to officiate its deathwalk. That majestic beauty is tired, and I’m reminded of that every time I walk by her.
An Unexpected Visit to Raleigh’s Heck-Andrews House
At 309 North Blount Street in Raleigh sits the first grand residence built in the area after the Civil War. Architect G. S. H. Appleget designed this home for Confederate Colonel Jonathan McGee Heck. It’s a landmark often visited on downtown tours through out the year, and given special attention for its eerie legends.
I’ve loved this house since I first moved to the capital city in 1991, and as an Intuitive, I once got the chance to explore it. Before we get to my experience, here’s a little history:
Heck constructed the Second Empire house for his wife Mattie in 1869, on what was then the northern-most edge of town. In 1916, the house was sold to A.B. Andrews. In 1948, Mrs. Julia Russell bought the already declining mansion from the Andrews family, and promptly moved in with her daughter, Gladys.
Later, with concern for her well-being, the state evicted Ms. Gladys Perry from the home and pressured her to sell the property, to collect it as part of a government complex connecting with other now-razed historic properties (ie, mostly parking lots).
In 1972, the house was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. Only after Ms. Perry became incapacitated, the State of North Carolina bought it for close to $3 million, in 1987, and completed extensive reconstruction of its exterior in 1999. The years of disrepair corroded the house, and the funds have never been raised to revitalize the interior.
That’s the historic buzz about the Heck-Andrews House. My personal experience of it, however, is something else altogether.
In the mid-1990s, my partner and I “visited” the house during one of its rare tours. I was blown away by the enormous front rooms, the intricate staircase. I’d never been inside such a cavernous and feral residence. I shrunk small in the vastness of the ballroom.
Despite the sweltering August day outside, I felt a chill. I stepped into the wide and muggy grand hall, the dusty throat of the house, and it felt as if the AC was on full blast. The memory of the intense feeling in that hall still gives me shivers.
Upstairs were bedrooms, demure considering the lavish construction of the house, yet with incredibly high ceilings.
One of the bathrooms had tile of just-there blue pattern, as the floor was badly damaged. I peered through the remnants and saw the downstairs.
The third floor took my breath away. The stairwell opened into a library that circled the walls. From floor to ceiling, around the enclosure bookcases covered every square inch, framed each of the bedroom doors. I could just imagine reclining in that lamp-lit cloister full of books!
I recall walking into one of the bedrooms and gazing out the wavy glass window, feeling a rush of terrific sadness. As an Intuitive, I tried to trace the sudden emotion, thinking it may be a wandering spirit, someone who had made the mansion home. But no. The sorrow seemed to come from the house itself. I had been struck by the beauty of this home, but now I was touched deeply by the sadness in these walls.
The tower and basement were off-limits, so our tour ended there. However, my experience with the house did not. For weeks after visiting the Heck-Andrews House, I was haunted by it. Throughout the day, it would bubble into my thoughts, as if it was calling to me.
In fact, well after that visit, I dreamed of a body buried under the front left corner of the house.
Night after night, that body reanimated and reached out to me. The figure never spoke, though was quite forlorn and lonely, until I released it to move on.
Who knows what’s really under there, or if the dream was the house’s way of telling me how much it desperately wants life breathed back into it. To this day, I can’t think of the mansion without feeling how spectacular it was to stand in those fabulous rooms, and imagine them in their original opulence. I would love to visit it again. Better still, I’d love to enliven that place, and recreate it in the spirit it wants to be.
I may get my chance, yet. According to the Raleigh Historic Development Commission, the house is slated to be returned to residential use, though I suspect this a dated assertion.
- The first president of the Woman’s Club of Raleigh (1904-1907), Miss Fannie Exile Scudder Heck, daughter of Johnathan Heck.
- The fountain at Peace College used to sit on the south lawn of the Heck-Andrews House.
- The Johnston County contracting firm, Wilson and Waddell, built the home.
- Find stunning images of the mansion and details on its sad history at Goodnight Raleigh