The Nissen House’s home in Lewisville’s future

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 18, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Chandler Inions

LEWISVILLE — Nestled near Lewisville’s center is a historic home called the Nissen House, and while it has a special place in the town’s history, those behind its preservation hope to ensure it has a place in its future as well.

The home, which is located at 213 Arrowleaf Drive, is believed to have been constructed in the 1870s. It was actually moved earlier this century to its current location, from where it previously stood just up the street.

The historic George Elias Nissen House is an educational, cultural, social and historical resource for Lewisville, the Piedmont Triad and beyond.

It was a frequent stop for travelers on the Great Wagon Road, a trail that utilized the nearby shallow ford of the Yadkin River to cross the waterway. Now it serves a different purpose as an educational stop for local youth and interested historians as well as a place for intimate events as Susan Linker, a member of the Historic Nissen House Board of Directors, explained. 

“We have baby showers, bridal showers and meetings,” Linker said. “We have had birthday parties.”

The use of Victorian decorative colors, authentic lace curtains and period furnishing and decorations creates a warm and charming atmosphere for events.

The house has a fire department capacity of 50, so small weddings might work, but large gatherings are out of the question. 

All rental fees go directly and exclusively to the maintenance of the Nissen House, so when someone plans their event at the house, they’re celebrating the history of Lewisville, supporting the importance of historic preservation and helping to keep the wonderful house alive.

For the last year or so, the Lewisville Historical Society has been working to create a nonprofit. 

“That is HNH or Historic Nissen House, Inc.,” Linker said. “It’s just come together. We have gotten our tac permits and everything is ready to go. We are almost at the point of having our deed ready to deed the house over to HNH.”

As the house’s stewards turn their attention to the future of the home, Linker indicated that they are “trying to broaden the functions of the house to make it more of a history center.

“We are hoping that what we are able to do is be a source of information for the public so that if they want to find out more about the significant sites and events in this area, beyond just Lewisville, and back as far as the Revolutionary period and through the 20th century with the Nissens, they can,” Linker said. “We will have information on the history of the house and the meaning of the house, and we are going to focus a lot on the Nissens to help make the public aware of their contributions.

“What we are looking at is making this an easy source for residents or visitors to come to find out more about the significant history of the area with a special focus on Lewisville.”

Lewisville Historical Society President Merrikay Brown added, “We want to have a regional history center. That’s what we are going to call it.”

That will allow inquisitive folks hoping to learn more about, say, the Shallowford site, Linker noted, “they could come here, perhaps see a video on that period, and if they had a deeper interest in it, then they could go to the Historical Society’s library collection to back it up. This can be the starting point for that.”

Many residents new to the area may not be familiar with Lewisville’s rich cultural history. Linker, Brown and the minds behind the Nissen House hope to fill that gap.

Linker indicated that the board is set to take over ownership and management of the house, which she said she hopes to take into the future.

In addition to Brown and Linker, that board includes various members from throughout the community.

  • Bob Campbell is a retired corporate quality manager, former owner of a historic home and member of Preservation N.C.
  • Bethany Collins has tourism experience as an employee of Visit Winston-Salem and several area historic sites, as well as an educational degree in history.
  • Jenny Garwood is a museum researcher, collector and educator at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, with expertise in historic textiles.
  • Purvaa Goel is an area architect with a degree from California Polytechnic State University and an interest in historic preservation and restoration.
  • Andy Kelly is a retired Navy captain and business manager, member of the Sons of the American Revolution and a participant in the creation of the Shallow Ford Historic Site. 
  • Marcia Phillips is an author and historian, manager at Martin-Wall History Room at Davie County Public Library, with skills in educational programs. She was formally employed at the Henry Ford Museum.
  • Nelson Sebright is a finance manager for various small and large church organizations and a project manager by profession, who has provided volunteer help from his church at the Nissen House during the restoration efforts. 
  • Terry Shore is the current treasurer of the Lewisville Historical Society and Historic Nissen House, Inc., and is retired with experience in accounting and computer support, with a family background in the Lewisville area going back generations.
  • Krista Bryant Sisk is trained in marketing with experience in real estate, investment and management of building projects, in addition to living in a historic Lewisville home. 

The Lewisville Historical Society and the Historic Nissen House will continue to work together. 

“The ongoing relationship between the historical society which has created HNH and is turning the house over to HNH is going to be a partnership, is a good way to describe it,” Linker said. “The historical society has had distinct functions that it has had always and will continue to carry out and then HNH will be tasked with the responsibility for taking care of the house and moving the programs forward in the house.”

Linker and Brown opened the door to the possibilities for future educational program expansion, such as art displays, period-appropriate musical performances, a Victorian ice social, mother-daughter teas and even garden tours.

The house is currently being staffed by volunteers. 

“We’re looking for volunteers,” Brown said. “We are going to expand, and we need volunteers.”

They also hope to employ a part-time house manager. 

Anyone interested in either is encouraged to contact Brown at 336-766-5842.