River Forest Manor event draws large crowd

Published 7:19 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BELHAVEN — It’s a familiar place on the east end of Main Street in Belhaven.

Commissioned by John A. Wilkinson in 1899 and completed in 1904, River Forest Manor has stood the test of time. Now, it’s fresh out of recent restoration work and ready for the public to rent for special events.

River Forest partner Kate Brown and general contractor and partner Del Tolan presented the finished work to residents on Tuesday afternoon, as part of a “Sip & See” event.

Guests were treated to refreshments and given free range to explore the home and accompanying marina and ask questions.

From intricate medallions on the ceilings and walls bathed in a fresh coat of coastal blue paint, to majestic wooden mantels, original bathroom tiling and the 19th-century-style portico, attention to detail was key in the restoration process.

Tolan told of how the crew had meticulous work, down to polishing every single crystal on the chandeliers.

Attended by about 425 people, most of who wore booties on their feet to protect the new flooring, the “Sip & See” brought plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ and breathed new life into the landmark home.

“It’s been so much fun,” Brown said. “It’s nice to be doing something where people are happy and celebrating.”

Although the manor home was in relatively good condition despite its age — boasting the intricate design work of Italian-style craftsmen, one of who worked on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville — crews spent six months just on the outside, Tolan said.

The hard work paid off, though, as guests were visibly impressed on Tuesday.

“You have to be innovative to try and be as true to the original as possible,” Tolan said.

The home has a total of 13 guest rooms, including the main house, a bungalow and space in the Marina House. Brown said River Forest hosted its first wedding since the remodel on July 2.

“We’ve had so much support throughout the community,” she said. “We wanted to show off this beautiful house.”

There was no shortage of things to see at the “Sip & See,” and every room was designed with the essence of River Forest’s past in mind, as well as what it can be in the future.

“We’re definitely ready to host life’s most important events,” Brown said proudly.

For more information about River Forest Manor & Marina, call 252-943-0320.