Bath home a slice of European life in eastern NC

Published 6:58 pm Thursday, April 13, 2017

Walk into Donna and Sandy Hardy’s Bath home at the very end of South King Street, and one steps into another world — the old world, across an ocean, in the middle of the French countryside.

“The house is very French inspired — Mary Ruth was very much in love with Provence,” Donna Hardy said. “It reflects what a French farmhouse would look like.”

Mary Ruth was Sandy Hardy’s mother — it was she, and his father, Ira May Hardy II, who built the house in a style that’s a constant reminder of a place they loved to visit. The property was given to Donna and Sandy Hardy six years ago, and now the couple splits their time between Bath and Greenville, while their son, Jesse, attends Bath Elementary School.

“In today’s world, to me, there is no better way to raise your child than in Bath and Beaufort County,” Hardy said.

What she especially enjoys about the house at the intersection of Bath and Back creeks, with a view straight out to the Pamlico River, is raising her son there — as well as his crowd of six-year-old friends.

“They play. They swim; they swing on the swing; they kayak,” Hardy said. “They have such a good time.”

A SPOT IN THE SHADE: Off the master bedroom, a pergola wrapped in wisteria over a brick terrace provides plenty of space for outdoor entertaining. In the summer, this shady spot is 10 degrees cooler, according to Donna Hardy.

It was for precisely that reason that Ira May Hardy II gave she and her husband the home he built in the early 1970s: to give Jesse a chance to grow up in the idyllic environment of North Carolina’s oldest town. In the meantime, his mom is quite enjoying the view.

“It’s the serenity and peace that you get when the weather’s nice, and you sit with friends and look out on the creek,” Hardy said, adding that it’s easy to imagine Blackbeard’s crew on the water and the everyday lives of the colonial settlers when sitting on the riverside porch, especially on occasions such as the replica 16th-century merchant ship Elizabeth II sailing into and out of Bath’s harbor on a recent visit.

“It was almost surreal, it was so beautiful,” Hardy said.

An avid fisherman, Hardy spends many days on the pier, pulling in the bounty of local waters.

“I catch rock. I catch trout, and I crab in the summer — all summer. They call me the crab lady,” she laughed.

HERBS DE PROVENCE: Mint and chives get a start in a container, one of many that dot the brick walkways and terraces surrounding the house on Bath Creek.

While much of life at the Hardy home is centered on the outdoors during the warmer months, inside, the house is both roomy and cozy. In keeping with the French design, pots, pans and baskets hang from the exposed wooden beams of the combined kitchen/dining area. The beams stretching across the ceilings of the downstairs rooms were repurposed from North Carolina tobacco warehouses. Paint is soft yellows, cream and blues over plank walls that give the home an even more rustic feel.

Inside, the home is decorated with art and history — original botanical drawings and ancient maps; prints of bucolic country scenes and colorful gardens painted by local artists. Outside, the landscape is more French country house: brick walkways and terraces meander around the home, from a wisteria-wrapped pergola of the master bedroom on one side, to a gazebo on the other — all of it designed to make one pause and look around a landscape in its first burst of spring and the view.

The Hardy home is one of 10 homes that will be featured on the Historic Bath Garden Club’s Homes Tour on April 22. The tour is self-guided and tickets are $20 per person, but groups of 10 or more qualify for a discount — each ticket is reduced to $15 per person. All proceeds go to help beautify Bath via the Historic Bath Garden Club. Those interested in attending the homes tour can call garden club president Sallie LaCava at 252-964-3441 to reserve a spot.

COUNTRYSIDE: The Hardy home features plank walls and exposed wood beams, giving the home’s design has a very old-world, European feel.