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History and mystery of Harrison Street home drew in couple
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History and mystery of Harrison Street home drew in couple

Lisa Smith knew she always wanted to live in an historical home. But with the housing market in California, that dream seemed impossible.

That was until her children decided to call Lynchburg home during their four years of college and the Smiths set up their East Coast base at 215 Harrison Street.

The Davis House has been a labor of love. Built in 1849, by Thomas N. Davis, a tax collector for the city of Lynchburg, the house is a staple of the Garland Hill Historical District and a typical Greek Revival home.

Garland Hill has its own history as well. The area from Third Street to Blackwater Creek was once the William B. Lynch Farm. Eventually the property was divided up into the neighborhood. It’s still one of the best preserved historical neighborhoods in the city.

Spanning six bedrooms and five baths with a nearly 200-year-old history, Smith wonders about what would happen if the walls at Harrison Street could talk.

“Thomas Davis’ son was a doctor and we wondered if they had their doctor’s practice downstairs,” she said. “When we were renovating some of the downstairs flooring, we found things that seemed really weird for a bedroom, like broken pottery.”

And she also wonders if it could be haunted, though Smith says she’s never seen anything.

“If they did have a doctor’s practice, you wonder what happened downstairs,” she said. “But I don’t know if I believe any of that. It just makes you wonder.”

But downstairs, there’s no sign of ghosts. Instead, it’s been converted into two Airbnbs with a shared kitchen space and separate entrance from the rest of the house making it a great investment property. Hints of a doctor’s practice weren’t the only things the family found during the renovation.

“We found a closet with a storm drain,” Smith said. “It was big, massive well with a trap door. What I think is that the maids must have come down here to get the run-off water [from the rain]. They didn’t drink it, but they used it for the wash and for baths. It still exists underneath, it’s just been filled in.”

In the Airbnbs, the original walls are still there. One space features a queen bed and a clawfoot tub while the second has a sitting area and enough room for two twin beds.

“In a lot of Airbnbs, you don’t usually have a shared kitchen,” Smith explained. “But when we traveled through Europe, that was something that was very common.”

According to Smith, a lot of other homes in the neighborhood have a similar layout for rentals.

Upstairs, the bones of the 19th century shine through, despite the modern touches. For one, each room has a fireplace — including the Airbnbs and the kitchen. Smith said they tried to preserve as much as they could of the original, but much of the wood had deteriorated over the years.

The layout is unique though. On the first floor, one can see where additions were made over the years including a large sunroom with lots of windows that makes a great entertaining space no matter the season.

“In doing [the addition], they maintained the look [of the house],” Smith said.

As they continue to look for a seller, Smith says they want someone who wants to feel like they’re at home in the space. The home presently is listed at $429,000. 

“I love that there were so many generations living in this house. It was very Lynchburgy. They lived here, their kids went to school here,” she said. “We thought about keeping it as a rental property, but this house was meant to be lived in.”

PHOTOS: History and mystery of Harrison Street home drew in couple

Lisa Smith knew she always wanted to live in an historical home. But with the housing market in California, that dream seemed impossible.

That was until her children decided to call Lynchburg home during their four years of college and the Smiths set up their East Coast base at 215 Harrison Street.

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