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Preserving Our History: The Rowland-Clay Home


James stands proudly outside of his newly re


When asked why James likes living in Matthews, he points to his bedroom in the home that's been in his family since around 1929 and says, "The fact that I was born here in Matthews, in that room, almost 73 years ago, makes it home for me. Every place that I've been, you have your ups and downs, but, emotionally, when I get back here, I'm alright. Whatever happens, I'm alright.'"


James' emotional tie to his home underscores its significance as more than just a building—it's a symbol of family and belonging. The Rowland-Clay house holds deep roots within the community and serves as a poignant reminder of our area's rich cultural heritage. Designated a historic property in 2005, its preservation is vital to maintaining our collective history.


Reflecting on the state of his home, James recalls, "It was really bad... The floors were messed up, water running up under the house contributed to the structural integrity giving away. You would be sitting down there on the toilet, and you're looking up, at the stars, you don't know whether to flush cause you're going to go backwards too. A big branch kind of impaled the roof, and there was a hole in the roof coming all the way to the kitchen. Every time it rains, there's water all over the place."


Luckily, this past winter, we partnered with James to address these concerns as part of our Home Preservation and Aging in Place initiatives. Through our Critical Home Repair Program, generously funded by the Town of Matthews, the Community Development Block Grant, Mecklenburg County, and individual Habitat supporters, we embarked on a comprehensive restoration effort. From repairing the roof and rafters to installing piers for structural support, our goal was to ensure the home's safety, accessibility, and preservation. Accessibility enhancements, such as an accessible shower, were also incorporated to improve the quality of life for James and future occupants.


Reflecting on his hopes for the future of the home, James shares, “Oh, I'd like for it to remain a valued part of the Crestdale community. I'm gonna do all that I can to keep up with the upkeep of the house and hopefully as I have moved on to a different place, hopefully I've been wise enough to choose someone who understands and appreciates what we have.”


Restoring the Rowland-Clay home is not just about preserving a piece of history; it's about honoring the legacy of those who came before us and creating a safe and dignified space for future generations. As we near the completion of this project, we are reminded of the profound impact our work has on individuals like James and the enduring spirit of our community. James expressed his gratitude for the support, saying, “Once again, thank you to the Town of Matthews, to Habitat, the Preservation Society. This has been a lifesaver.”

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