When John Cabe’s fifth daughter, Rachel, married Moses McCown in 1813, Cabe helped the couple settle on the south bank of the Eno River near a site where the water drop was sufficient to power a mill. Rachel and Moses shortly established a mill that operated first as a tilt hammer for forging metal and later as a sawmill and a gristmill for grinding wheat and corn. They also built a home that is believed to have been a four-bay, one and one half-story, gable-roofed frame house with a three-room or Quaker plan. The house is thought to have had paired front entrances; one door served a small entrance hall and the other, a large parlor. A plat of the property showing the locations of the original dwelling and a small kitchen house was made after McCown’s death in 1830. In 1874, his children sold the property to John Anderson Cole who is thought to have constructed a two-room frame house near the mill for the use of various workers. Cole is reported to have been struck blind suddenly while working in a field during a thunderstorm. Afterward his brother, Ed, and other family members ran the mill until a devastating flood destroyed it in 1908.
The main dwelling, one of three millers’ houses remaining in Durham county, occupies a picturesque setting on a high bluff above the river, and it appealed to Samuel Sparger, a wealthy insurance salesman and cosmopolitan historian, who bought with it 48 acres as a retreat and hunting lodge around 1930. Initially Sparger made minor modifications to the house, among them rebuilding the stack of the massive stone fireplace in the living room with white quartz rock. He also added the outbuildings presently on the property, which include a frame one-car garage, a long rectangular frame barn and storage shed, and a log smokehouse, all ca. 1930.
After an illness in his later years, Sparger married his nurse, Florence Wyatt, and in 1948, employed J. G. Jordan of the firm of George F. Hackney, Architects, to reconfigure his hunting lodge for himself and his bride. Jordan retained the Quaker plan, most of the original framing and flooring, and the four bay facade with paired front entrances though double-vertical-panel doors of the Greek Revival style had by that time replaced the first doors. Extensive renovations were made elsewhere: the living room was extended into a one-story gable-roofed wing on the rear facade; windows were replaced and added around the house; the front porch was rebuilt; three gable dormers on the front and a full-length shed-and-gable dormer on the rear were added to the loft; and a staircase was reoriented to access the loft. A diagonal ell containing a study, a dinning room, and a kitchen was added to the east facade. Interior finishing such as the wide flush wainscoting and wall sheathing throughout the house and wide-board flooring in the ell were obtained from another nineteenth-century house on the property, and Chestnut paneling was brought from Asheville for the study. In the yard, a larger garage was added, the well was covered, and a rustic octagonal gazebo was built overlooking the river.
Although the house does not retain architectural integrity from its period of occupation as a miller's house, Holger and Margaret Nygard who purchased it and 13 acres of land in 1964, preserved the property essentially as the Spargers had it.