Tuesday, 22 October 2013 17:35

Turn out the lights ...

Written by  Lori Helms
Rehnea and Billy Raines hosted their final special event at the Ranson House last weekend. With the closing of their venue rental business, the couple plan to become reacquainted with their downstairs. Rehnea and Billy Raines hosted their final special event at the Ranson House last weekend. With the closing of their venue rental business, the couple plan to become reacquainted with their downstairs. Lori Helms

... the party's over. Ranson House run as special event venue comes to a close.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- The last couple has exchanged wedding vows beneath the home's massive willow oaks and the last "first dance" has been played.

The last bouquet has been tossed and the last bridesmaid has been coaxed — most likely shoeless — from the dance floor as the party tent has gone dark for good at Huntersville's Ranson House.

The landmark home at the corner of Old Statesville Road and Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road turns 100 years old this year and it's seen its fair share of life celebrations, particularly since it was purchased by Billy and Rehnea Raines in 2006. The couple rehabbed the home, established its historic status with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission and opened it as a boutique special event venue that has played host to weddings, anniversaries and all manner of receptions.

But now the Raineses say they have other priorities, and it's time to close the Ranson House doors to the public and turn their attention to their private lives.

"We have been very happy with what we've done here," says Rehnea, sitting in one of the home's downstairs front rooms — one of several first floor rooms she and Billy can now fully live in after being relegated to the upstairs living quarters since they opened the Ranson House in 2007.

"We've been just completely overwhelmed at how well received our little venture here was, so it's a very bittersweet decision. But at this point in time, I've just hit this place where I want to be with my parents as much as I can, and I don't want them to think that I can't take care of them the way they need."

After about six years as small business owners in a time-intense and intensely personal industry, the couple have found themselves at a life stage many of their fellow baby-boomers are facing — aging parents who are beginning to require closer care and adult children spread to the winds with whom they don't get to spend enough time.

"What has evolved is that (since 2007) our parents have aged considerably," Rehnea says. "They live out of state, and three of our four children live out of state, so we just found ourselves really struggling with the family end of things."

She says between their parents' increasing health challenges and being able to see their children sometimes only twice a year, something had to give.

"That just kills my soul, I can hardly stand that," she says.

While the decision to close the Ranson House may come as a surprise to those in the community or to brides shopping for that perfect venue, it's a choice the Raineses actually settled on several months ago. But Rehnea says they are in no rush to plant a "For Sale" sign in the front yard, content instead to have the free time to finally come and go as needed for their family and enjoy the home they restored with such passion several years ago.

Built by W.J. and Ellen Hunter Ranson in 1913, it was the centerpiece of a 3,200-acre dairy farm and the home in which the Ransons raised 10 children. For decades, it remained the focal point for the extended Ranson family as well as a social landmark for the town, hosting for years an annual New Year's Eve party that became a part of local lore.

But by the 1970s, the 4,500-square-foot home had been converted into apartments and nearly all of the acreage had been sold. Efforts to modernize it for apartment living meant that its eight fireplaces had been sealed, the original heart pine floors were covered with shag carpet and its original tin ceilings were removed. After a lightening strike and ensuing fire in 2005 caused heavy damage to one side of the house, the home's owners at the time cloaked it in a blue tarp rather than repair it.

The home found a new lease on life, however, when the Raineses purchased it in 2006 and made it their personal mission to restore it to its former grandeur. With the shuttering of their event venue business, they now plan to more fully enjoy the home's splendor — and solitude — while not completely shutting the door on opportunity.

"We're not jumping out to sell the house. We love this house, our heart and soul is in it," Rehnea says. "But we're also very open to the idea that if someone else wants to do this, I'd be more than happy to show someone how we (ran the business) in this space."

For now, she says, there's no urgency to sell the home that they both agree will at some point become too much house for them. Instead, Billy and Rehnea plan to spend their newfound time and space enjoying — instead of missing — the same milestones they helped so many others celebrate under the roof of the Ranson House.


1 comment

  • Comment Link Joy Shue Monday, 03 March 2014 19:15 posted by Joy Shue

    Is this wonderful venue really no longer open? I attended a reception there, when my daughter got engaged I looked desperately to find you. If you are; do you recommend another venue?


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