by Jonathan Scott | Photography by Diana Matthews
Like a ring set with three gems, downtown Fayetteville’s Heritage Square contains three historic treasures—the Sandford House, the Baker-Haigh Nimocks House and the Oval Ballroom. At the time The Woman’s Club of Fayetteville purchased the Sandford House in 1945, it was already 145 years old. The mantel in the North Room still shows a trace of a Civil War bullet’s mark.
Eleven years later, when the nearby Regency-style Halliday House was sentenced to demolition, the owners donated what had been the Dining Room building to the club. Built in 1818, it had once featured in 1850’s “Trial of the Century” as the site of an infamous domestic murder. It was renamed the Oval Ballroom and moved next to the Sandford House on the property.
In 1966, the club purchased the neighboring Baker-Haigh-Nimrocks House. They removed the modern additions, but it took until 1997 for a real restoration effort to begin with the help of the Colonial Dames of America. It is said that the home once served as headquarters for Gen. Sherman’s army. Restoration on the interior is still to be undertaken.
Earlier this year, The Woman’s Club changed their name to the Heritage Square Historical Society.
Every year on the first weekend in December, the society hosts their Christmas Tour of Homes. It features six locations including the Sandford House and the Oval Ballroom. The two are lavishly adorned with all-natural decorations as they would have been in the mid-19th century. Tickets are available at the Sandford House, located at 225 Dick Street in downtown Fayetteville.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of several generations of dedicated women, these gems continue to inspire us.