J. B. TENNEY FARM OVERSEER'S HOUSE
c. 1810, 1840s, c. 1920, 1960s, 1990s
This early nineteenth-century farmhouse stands on what was once a large farm belonging to John B. Tenney, for whom Tenney Circle is named. The core of the house dates to about 1810, though the current appearance of the main part of the house dates to a late twentieth-century remodeling. The one-and-a-half-story, house is three bays wide and single-pile with plain weatherboards, gable end brick chimneys, nine-over-six wood-sash windows on the façade and six-over-six windows on the side elevations, including at the upper level flanking the chimney. The two-light-over-two-panel door is sheltered by a full-width, engaged, shed-roofed porch supported by full-height columns, replacing earlier columns on low brick piers, and vertical sheathing in the gable ends. A gabled dormer on the façade, constructed between 1992 and 2002, features six-over-six windows flanking a two-over-two window and replace an early, wider, partially inset gable that was out of scale with the house.
A series of additions, constructed in phases, extend from the rear (south) elevation with the main rear gabled ell present by 1932. This ell has a gabled dormer on its left (east) elevation with a four-light casement window. The front window on the east elevation is an eight-over-eight window, but the rear two bays, extending the ell were constructed later and have two-over-two wood-sash windows. On the right (west) elevation of the rear ell, a gabled wing, built between 1949 and 1974, projects with an interior brick chimney and two later bay windows, on the right elevation, each with two-over-two windows and paneled aprons. Constructed after 1992, a one-story, gabled hyphen at the rear of the rear ell has a one-light French door flanked by fixed windows on the right elevation. The hyphen connects to a one-and-a-half-story, side-gabled modern wing with flared eaves, two-over-two windows, a bay window on the left elevation, and a gabled dormer on the left end of the south elevation. A slate walkway extends from the street to the front porch with the word “Tenney” written in slate where the walk meets the street.
The house may have been built as early as 1791 by John B. Tenney. During the early 1800s it was a popular boarding house, frequented by many students who later gained state and national prominence. Among these students were James K. Polk, who later became president of the United States, and William H. Battle, who became a prominent North Carolina judge and founder of the UNC Law School. During the Civil War, in invading Federal cavalry of 4,000 men under Brig. General Smith D. Atkins pitched the tents of their officers on Tenney’s meadow, the flat part of the farm, on East Sunday 1865. Their tents extended down what is now Rosemary Street almost to Henderson Street.
In the 2015 survey, this was deemed a Noncontributing Building..
Frame shed complex south of the house is made of three, front-gabled sections with asbestos siding, six-over-six wood-sash windows, exposed rafter tails, and an entrance sheltered by an inset porch on the center section. In the 2015 survey, this was deemed a Contributing Building..
Front-gabled, frame two-car garage with vertical plywood sheathing and sliding doors on the north elevation. In the 2015 survey, this was deemed a Noncontributing Building..
SOURCE: Heather Wagner Slane, National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Chapel Hill Historic District Boundary Increase and Additional Documentation, Orange County, OR1750 (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, 2015), courtesy of the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office.