Home Local News Florida couple remodeling historic homes in Richmond County

Florida couple remodeling historic homes in Richmond County

Brian and Nicole Darling discuss replacing a ceiling fan in the old "Teacherage" in Rockingham. Photos by Chris McDonald - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — In his 1954 poem, “The House Was Quiet, The World Was Calm,” Wallace Stevens says, “The house was quiet and the world was calm. The reader became the book; and summer night was like the conscious being of the book. The house was quiet and the world was calm.”

This is not the case on 204 Everett St. where Brian and Nicole Darling are remodeling and refurbishing one of the oldest homes in Rockingham formerly known as the “Teacherage.”

When they originally purchased the property, they had to buy 204, 206 and the property that looks down onto Greene Street.

“We couldn’t just buy one or the other, we had to buy both,” said Nicole Darling. “We were told that the City of Rockingham built it in 1901 and it went without power for eight years.”

Brian Darling says that visitors come by to see the progress.

“It’s not uncommon for someone to randomly stop and walk up and say that their former family members used to live in the house,” said Brian Darling. “There’s a tie to this house with the residents of the area.”

Their first project in Richmond County was the “Airplane House” on Main Street in Hamlet.

According to “The Architectural History of Richmond County, North Carolina,” the house was so described “because of its broad winglike first story and narrow transverse upper story…it was owned by Dr. Albert W. James who assisted his brother Dr. W.D. James with the operation of the Hamlet Hospital.”

The Darlings went on to work on a house on Randolph Street in Rockingham then two in Ellerbe, one on Page Street and one formerly owned by ophthalmologist Dr. Neil Ward.

Originally from Cape Coral, Florida, the Darlings have two daughters and six grandchildren.

When they are in the county, they are living in the house on Everett Street, but their company is still based in the Sunshine State.

“We were high school sweethearts,” said Nicole Darling. “We’ve really grown up together.”

When they first started flipping houses, they had to make a decision on whether to do this as a profession or keep doing it as a hobby.

“I was at a point where I had to decide whether or not I should take early retirement from the phone company,” said Brian Darling. “Her mom said, ‘Take a leap of faith.’ I married her because I love her and want to be around her so we decided yes, and that’s what we did.”

“We have been go, go, go ever since,” said Nicole Darling.

In total, they have completed six houses in the community.

“We owe a lot to our friend Doug Goins,” said Nicole Darling. “He has our full faith and credit to make any and all decisions about the properties during our absence. He has been a true blessing and a true friend.”

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The couple is committed to using local companies and those throughout the state.

“The Rockingham city workers and city officials including John Hutchinson, John Massey, Lee Parish … have been fantastic,” said Brian Darling, with his wife adding, “They have all gone above and beyond.”

Make your hobby your job and marry your best friend.

“It’s like a hobby, almost,” said Brian Darling.

“We love seeing the beginning and we love seeing the end,” said Niclole Darling. “And we love seeing the new family move into it.”

“It started out as a necessity for income but we both have a healthy attitude for historical things and the ability to come in and fix something back to a working order … brings us a sense of accomplishment,” said Brian Darling. “At the end of the day, it’s an accomplishment thing.”

Nicole Darling cuts a piece of wood while remodeling a Rockingham home.