The History of William E. Merritt and His Home
William Edward Merritt moved to Mount Airy in 1888. His interests helped to develop Mount Airy into the town it is today. Mr. Merritt was an entrepreneur which has been shown in the many business endeavors he helped develop throughout history. When he arrived to Mount Airy, he opened a hardware store known as “Merritt Hardware” and later expanded into the brick yard business. The hardware store is now incorporated as part of today’s Regional Historic Museum. The bricks from his brick yard, was used to construct his home, as well as his parents home, which was next door, and supplied his hardware business. Mr. Merritt also helped develop the Renfro Textile Industry, a major part of Mount Airy’s economic history.
His home, at 618 North Main Street, was constructed in 1900 by general contractor J.A. Tesh and took approximately one year to complete. J.A. Tesh also constructed the Trinity Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, and the Mount Airy Depot. The house was one of the most prestigious houses in Mount Airy for its time, with its two and half story bay, wrap around front porch, and granite accented string courses and window trimmings. Inside, the house reflected the Colonial Revival Era, seen in the houses mantels, staircase, and built-in. The house was then passed down to his daughter, Elizabeth Merritt, who kept the house true to her father’s design.
Today, the William E. Merritt House is home to Heart & Soul Bed and Breakfast. The Bastins are the fourth owners of the William E. Merritt house and they have fully restored the home to its original elegance and charm.