JE Martin Front Gable House

214 East Nelson Avenue (ex 201 E Linden)

214 East Nelson, apprently in its origina configuration, although the wrought-iron porch supports appear to be replacements, probably of wooden pillars.

This cool, quirky cottage/bungalow hybrid has a gable roof and a front-facing porch gable with a diamond-shaped window in it. The porch is supported by wrought-iron supports.

The main body of the house is almost square, 25 feet across and 30 feet deep, with a 7x10 foot bump-out on the west side. It was built with a full, but unfinished, basement. The house had a living/dining room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and three bedrooms, all with hardwood floors except for the vinyl in the kitchen and tile in the bathroom. The half-height attic was unfinished. Heat was by hot water radiators.

The house was purchased by Margaret Polwarth in 1933 and in June 1934 she sold it to Marvin and Nannie Lou Rodeffer, who assumed her mortgage of $3,000 and got an additional second mortgage of $1,300 to complete the purchase price.

Marvin had been born in Harrisonburg, Virginia in August 1893. Of medium height and build, with brown hair and blue eyes, he worked on his father's farm until the 1920s when he moved to Franklin in Southampton County to work in and then manage a retail store. In April 1929 he married 22-year-old Nannie Lou Noblett near her home town in Shelby, NC. Timing was not good, and he seems to have lost his job at the store with the onset of the depression, so they moved north to Alexandria where Marvin got a job as a driver for the AB&W bus company. Taking their savings and using his new, fairly stable job, they were able to mortgage themselves to the hilt and purchase 214 E Nelson (then known as 201 Linden).

Their gamble was a success and Marvin held on for a 20-year career with the bus company, making $2,026 in 1939 (compared to a national average income of $1,368) enabling them to pay off the house. They had no children, although Nannie's mother moved in with them in the 1930s. The Rodeffers sold the house to Walter and Delois Utt in June 1955 and moved to Orange, Florida, where Marvin passed away in 1959. Nannie then moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she too passed away in 1970.

The house in 1970