Local historic treasure positions for growth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

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LEWISVILLE — The Historic George Elias Nissen House has been a restoration project of the Lewisville Historical Society since 2008. Saved from demolition, it was relocated to 213 Arrow Leaf Drive, Lewisville, a town-owned property in 2009. 

The house is believed to have been built by George Elias Nissen (1839-1913), the eldest son of John Philip Nissen around 1876, possibly earlier. John Philip Nissen was the 1834 founder of the Nissen Wagon Works in Waughtown (Winston-Salem). G. E. Nissen was one of the most important early business leaders in the area, operating a grist mill and saw mill in Lewisville and eventually running Nissen Wagon Works with his brother after his father’s death. These businesses were instrumental in the economic development of the Piedmont area and southeastern U.S.

Lewisville Historical Society has carefully restored the first floor of the home (so far), a combination of Greek Revival and Italian Villa architecture. The 19th-century interior has been recreated with faux wood graining and mantel marbleizing in the parlor and partially furnished with a collection of pieces from the Victorian period, donated by supporters of the Nissen House. Updated for public use, the Historic Nissen House now has a modern catering kitchen and Wi-Fi, with a first floor that is handicapped accessible. The gardens feature plants typically grown in the mid- to late-19th century, with special attention to native varieties and organic gardening techniques.  

Currently, the house is available to rent for small events and volunteers offer educational tours of both the interior and gardens. However, the Lewisville Historical Society has a much greater vision. It envisions the Historic Nissen House eventually serving as a regional history center, centralizing information on important area historical sites and events, such as the Great Wagon Road, Shallow Ford, Nissen wagons, and historic local battles. To better accomplish this exciting goal, the Lewisville Historical Society has birthed a separate nonprofit organization with its own board of directors, named Historic Nissen House, Inc.

That new nonprofit will focus exclusively on the restoration, preservation, maintenance, and programming at the Historic Nissen House. Additional volunteers and financial resources are needed, along with sustained funding, which led the Historical Society and the new Historic Nissen House, Inc. to establish a fund with the Shallow Ford Foundation. With that partnership, Nissen House leaders hope to benefit from increased awareness, support, and contributions dedicated to the vision for the Historic Nissen House. The Lewisville area has a fascinating history that can be more readily accessed, brought to life, and enjoyed through developing a regional history center at the Historic Nissen House. To learn more, go to www.nissenhouse.org. To become part of the vision with a tax deductible contribution to the Historic Nissen House Fund, call the Shallow Ford Foundation at 336-663-6794 or donate online at sff.gives/nissenhouse.