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From Then To Now...

Montfort Hall, now known as Heights House Hotel, was commissioned in 1858 by William Montfort Boylan with the guidance of British architect William Percival. The Italianate style mansion was completed in 1860 and sits on the highest point of the now historic Boylan Heights neighborhood in Downtown Raleigh. It is one of the few remaining pre-civil war houses in the Raleigh area and is a National and Raleigh Historic Landmark. Over the past 162 years, the house has seen an array of owners, renovations, restorations, and changes. Even so, the home was incredibly well built and the structure has truly stood the test of time.


William & William

William Boylan was one of North Carolina’s wealthiest and most influential businessmen, and was a publisher for the Raleigh Minerva, a newspaper at the time. Among many other things, he was heavily involved in land transactions in the Raleigh area and helped facilitate the building of the railroad that would run eventually run through downtown. William Boylan gifted a plot of land to his son, William Montfort Boylan, right outside the city limits of Raleigh at the time. This plot of land would be where Montfort Hall would come to stand.



Architect William Percival's Task

In 1858, William Montfort Boylan commissioned British architect William Percival to design a home at the highest point on this plot of land. Percival imagined a grand house in the Italianate style, a style derived from the Victorian villas and farmhouses of Italy. William Percival only spent a short time in North Carolina and Virginia, but during this time he had a major influence on architecture in the area. He also designed the First Baptist Church in Downtown Raleigh just a few blocks away from Montfort Hall, and oversaw renovations to the rotunda of the State Capitol Building. It’s believed he took particular inspiration from the rotunda, and applied it to the design of the cupola atop Montfort Hall, and The Barracks residence in Tarboro, NC.

The Completion of Montfort Hall

The house was constructed and completed two years later in 1860, on a high hill right outside of the city limits of the time. The house is one of only a handful of remaining pre-civil houses in Raleigh, and one of the only structures still standing to this day that was designed and built by William Percival, which speaks to the impeccable engineering of its design. Montfort Hall was an innovative home for its time - it was one of the first home in Raleigh with a gaslighting, indoor plumbing, and a water closet, with 20-inch-thick brick walls, and an elaborate cupola topped with a painted glass skylight. Percival sourced many of the materials locally, from the bricks to the sandstone used for the window moldings.



A Changing of Hands

In 1904, William Montfort Boylan sold the property to the Greater Raleigh Land Company, who began to divide the land into subplots for other houses in 1907. This would eventually become the historic Boylan Heights neighborhood, that surrounds Heights House. If you find yourself on a walk through the neighborhood, you’ll find that most of the streets are named after various members of the Boylan family (you also may find that the GRLC misspelled many of these street names).

A Major Renovation

In 1911 Montfort Hall was acquired by the Cabanis family, who undertook a renovation of the house that was considered quite destructive to many of the original features of the house that made it architecturally significant as an Italianate-style home and as a historically significant structure in Raleigh. They did, however, install some stunning parquet wooden floors, that have been preserved to this day, and can be found most prominently in the present-day Drawing Room.



The Coburn Family

The house was then purchased by the Coburn family a short time later in 1918. The Coburn family would come to own the house for the longest period of time besides the Boylan family. The Coburn family undertook a series of renovations as well, although these were mostly to the exterior of the house, and were not considered particularly destructive to the original floor plan. While under the ownership of the Coburn family, the property was referred to as “Coburnsville,” and most likely had a carriage house where the family kept horses. Additionally, after the Coburns had moved out of the house, the house was unfortunately subject to a series of burglaries that saw many of the original chandeliers and marble features taken from the home.

Boylan Heights Baptist Church

After changing hands a few more times, the house eventually came to be owned by the Boylan Heights Baptist Church. The house then underwent another major renovation, this time to turn into a utilitarian home that could house a congregation, and provide rooms for Sunday school and other church activities. The renovations were fairly dramatic - they closed the opening of the rotunda to create an open second floor, and used cement paint to paint the house white, which served as a major hindrance to future renovations to the exterior.



Jadwick Family Restoration

The Jadwick family purchased the house in 1979, and undertook the major project of restoring many of the original features of the home in the Italianate style. They enclosed the front porches to expand many of the front rooms, but retained as much of the original floor plan as possible, and replaced or restored the original mantle in-step with the original design plans of the house. The Jadwicks cared a great deal about preserving the history of the house, and put a series of voluntary protections on the house through Preservation NC to ensure that the property was protected from invasive development, and to ensure that the house would remain standing for generations to come.

The Vision for Heights

In 2018, Sarah and Jeff Shepherd acquired the property, with the vision of transforming it into a boutique hotel that could be enjoyed by locals and travel guests alike. They envisioned a “Modern Victorian” experience that honored the history of the house, and contextualized the house in the present. After a hard-fought rezoning effort, renovations finally began, started with stabilizing the roof and repairing water damage the house had incurred in recent years. The Shepherds also extended the second floor in the back of the house to create four more rooms for overnight stays, and restored the home into what it is today. You can explore the rooms here.



Grand Opening

In April 2021, the newly christened Heights House opened to the public. With help from Mauer Architecture and builder Greg Paul, the property offers a glimpse at Raleigh’s deep history, coupled with a fresh and modern stay experience. With interior designer Bryan Costello, the team set out to ensure that the house’s interior forms, colors, and objects embodied much of the curiosity and thrill that the original house offered, in line with William Montfort Boylan’s and architect William Percival’s initial vision of making the house a place for entertainment and hosting. With furniture pieces and oddities that offer subtle nods to the embellished forms of the Italianate style, alongside tempered modern pieces, the house seeks to strike the balance between past, present, and future.


Get a more in-depth look at the space and everything it has to offer by clicking the link to the right.

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