* IMPORTANT UPDATE: We’ve learned since release of the Gazette that this story is in error. Yes Auvin Ferris was a war hero, and yes he did live at 842 Main Street BUT IN MARTINSVILLE. The newspaper story in “The BEE” was unclear on this point. Thanks to reader Mary Wiseman Lewis, a descendant of the builder, for calling this to our attention. We still love the home.
Architect J. Bryant Heard completed the house at 842 Main Street in 1917, just before the United States entered the First World War. Commissioned by Dr. Henry A. Wiseman, Jr., the house was built for his bride on land given him by his father, and upon which his own parents home (now gone) was built. It was another resident, however, living in the house during the next world war, who made notoriety. Auvin H. Ferris served as a tank destroyer driver for some eighteen month, escaping death multiple times.
The Bee of 2 August 1944 tells his story thusly:
Corporal Ferris was slightly wounded by shell fragments near Cassino (Italy), was knocked unconscious while driving a vehicle near Anzio (Italy), was knocked out when a shell collapsed a building in which he was hiding up near the Anzio beachhead, was buried in a fox hole when its dirt sides caved in and escaped from two disabled vehicles.
The article also notes, that though he wore out three tanks in pursuit of the enemy and had two others “knocked out from under him” he succeeded in taking out seven of the enemy’s tanks.
In 1969, after a century of Wiseman family ownership, the remaining land, including the house, changed hands and began its thirty years of service as the Danville-area chapter of the American Red Cross.
In 2002, the house changed hands again. Owners Pam Gray and Mike Sampson began restoring the home. In 2006, the house sold once more, this time to the Holloways, who continued the restoration efforts. Most recently, the house served the family of Pastor Allen Thompson from the First Presbyterian Church.
The fully refurbished 3,200 square foot home has four bedrooms and three baths sits on a large 2/3 acre lot and with updated kitchen and baths. Click here for availability and purchase information.