[caption id="attachment_178845" align="alignright" width="300"] Owners Michael and Eric Fuko-Rizzo[/caption] In the tale of Greensboro’s historic Julian Price House, romance may be the right genre, but it was a far cry
In the tale of Greensboro’s historic Julian Price House, romance may be the right genre, but it was a far cry from love at first sight. Owners Michael and Eric Fuko-Rizzo could barely see the vine-engulfed English Tudor Greek Revival-style mansion before they bought it in 2016. The terra-cotta-tile roof, aged in lichen and moss, was the only architectural feature visible from the street.
“Looking at the roof alone, I imagined this magnificent but charming cottage,” Eric says. “I remember us saying that we would love to live there — that it would be our dream house.”
“Today, you walk in and realize it’s enormous,” Michael adds. “But at the time, we had no idea of the size and the magnitude.”
Michael is an entrepreneur who loves a challenge. Eric is a dreamer drawn to architecture and historic preservation. Their experience restoring old homes gave them just enough confidence to embrace the possibility of clearing vines, restoring the mansion to its Roaring Twenties splendor, and raising their then 3-year-old twin daughters in the iconic, 1.6-acre estate.
The next chapter of their story was less idyllic. When the couple bought the home out of foreclosure, the previous owner was still living in a van on the property. Four decades’ worth of possessions harking back to the days when the former resident was a prominent Greensboro interior designer packed every square inch of the home.
To help the previous owner financially, the Fuko-Rizzos contacted the A&E show Hoarders. The show helped clear the property of its layers of furniture and debris. Finally, months after closing on the sale of their new home, Michael and Eric could see all four floors and 11,000 square feet.
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That was more than seven years ago. Today, the results of the elbow-grease chapter of their story are apparent to any guest who books one of the five rooms at the Julian Price House Inn & Gardens.
As you enter the home, it softly sweeps you up and transports you to another world. A world where it’s easy to imagine what life might have been like for Julian Price, the philanthropist who made his fortune through the Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company and commissioned architect Charles Hartmann to design “Hillside” for him and his wife, Ethel, in 1929.
The lacquered and polished rose-brass hardware of the original steel casement windows shines like individual works of art. An intricate plaster ceiling, likely cast on-site, is rare among homes in North Carolina and reminiscent of Tudor homes in the English countryside. First-edition books from the Price family fill the study’s bookshelves. Anchoring the home, a grand spiral staircase walled by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooks the lush, oak-filled Fisher Park just across the street. Upstairs, the home’s bedrooms and adjoining bathrooms serve as mini suites outfitted with plush linens and antique furnishings.
Jazz music plays softly through the home’s speakers, inviting guests to relax in the sunroom or explore the rooms and grounds. Chip Callaway, a prominent landscape designer who lives around the corner, conceived of the landscaping, whose showstopping beauty rivals the house. Footpaths wind through native plants, and century-old oaks stand as witnesses to the triumphs and struggles that come from making a life here.
Most guests don’t notice that the four members of the Fuko-Rizzo family live in the home’s original servants’ quarters. That kitchen brims with their everyday life: colorful artwork taped to the refrigerator, stacks of bills and paperwork to be dealt with. Unless they hear small footsteps, guests may not realize that tucked into the mansion’s eaves is a children’s bedroom, filled with fairy lights, stuffed animals, Barbies, and Taylor Swift posters.
“Our daughters are very integrated into the process of what it takes to run a bed and breakfast,” Eric says with a laugh. “If you ask them, they might say it means they have to be quiet all the time.”
That’s one reason the Fuko-Rizzos have a sequel planned for their house story — a home of their own just around the corner. Once their move is complete, Eric and Michael plan to open every corner of the Julian Price House to guests, not just as a bed and breakfast but also for weddings and events.
“It’s like we are that next stamp of history on this home,” Eric says. “We love this home, and we love that we can share it with the public. People really respect its importance to the neighborhood. It’s uplifting to us that it’s open to everybody — kind of like a museum, but you can stay here.”