Troxell and Hansen-Pruss House,1929
3303 Surrey Road, ca. 1929, Contributing Building
George Watts Carr, Architect
Stately two-and-a-half-story, side-gabled, brick Colonial Revival house has centered front entry with molded surround and broken pediment; round-arched dormers; 6/6 windows; south end single-story wing with weatherboards and a picture window.
Deed and mortgage records indicate that Charles and Emily Troxell purchased this parcel in January 1929 and took out a mortgage of $7000 that May. In 1931, Oscar and Frances Hansen-Pruss assumed the mortgage on the house.
Neighborhood historians note that the Hansen-Prusses also lived in the Shepherd-Mebane House at 2814 Chelsea Circle at some point.
In the 1950s, their son Harold wrote a history of the neighborhood, presumably based on oral history from his parents and neighbors.
Oscar Hansen-Pruss was one of the ten original professors at the new Duke School of Medicine, established in 1930. He started the Allergy Clinic at Duke Hospital and also was chief of the Syphilogy and Hematology Clinics.
Robert W. Carr identified this house as a design from the firm of George Watts Carr, Architects.
Like many of the historic homes in Hope Valley, the Troxell and Hansen-Pruss House was built in an historic revival style--in this case, Colonial Revival. The front facade consists of a white painted brick center with white painted wooden wings on either side. Other features are a centered front entry with molded surround and broken pediment; rounded arched dormers; 6/6 windows; a south end single-story wing with weatherboards and a picture window. The home is a contributing structure in the Hope Valley National Register District.
Like the Spanish and Tudor revival styles found in the neighborhood, the Colonial Revival style was popular with home owners in the period between the First and Second World Wars. Hope Valley was begun in 1926, and a few years later in 1929 Charles and Emily Troxell bought a parcel of land in the center of the new subdivision overlooking one of Donald Rosses’ fairways. It is believed that the Hansen-Pruss house like many others in Hope Valley was designed by the firm of noted Durham architect, George Watts Carr.
Hope Valley, which featured such attractions as large home sites, a country club and an eighteen-hole golf course, was designed with a particular clientele in mind—educated professionals, businessmen, professors who would be employed at the new West Campus of Duke University, and doctors working at Duke Hospital; both having just been funded by the Duke Endowment. Duke was known as “Little Hopkins” because of the many medical professionals who came to Duke from Baltimore. Hope Valley soon became a colony for these transplants, including its leader Wilburt C. Davison who lived a bit further down Surrey Road although his home was razed a few years ago.
Oscar Hansen-Pruss who took over in mortgage in 1931, the year his son Harald was born, was one of the first faculty members at the medical center. (Duke Faculty and doctors, supported by the Duke Endowment, were among the few who could afford homes in Hope Valley.) Dr. Hansen-Pruss started the Allergy Clinic at Duke Hospital and was chief of the Syphilogy and Hematology Clinics. He and his wife Frances lived at 3303 Surrey Road for almost forty years until they sold the property to Frank and Nancy East in 1969.
Their son Harald remembers weekly poker games played by Duke doctors at the house. Dr. Davison, the first Dean of the Duke Medical School, strongly suggested that medical faculty live in Hope Valley and purchased 40 Club memberships for his staff to encourage residency! At one such game, automobiles were moved to allow for someone to leave early and the Hansen Pruss car was left on the rather steep drive that opens onto Surrey Road. Harald recalls “it was found across Surrey Road with the rear tires across the road and suspended in the air and the front tires on the pavement. Why it did not end up in the 7th fairway was a miracle.”
Frank East was a plant manager at Eaton, Yale & Towne, later renamed the Eaton Corporation. The property’s connection with the Eaton Corporation continued when Randal Phillips, a plant manager there, bought the house in 1982. Randal and Sandra Phillips resided there only a few before the house was sold in 1986 to current owners.
The new residents liked many of the features that gave the home its distinctive character, such as the original plaster work rather than sheetrock and the old glass with its quirky imperfections in many of the window panes. However, the home owners realized that the house needed some major renovations. The old radiators that had heated the home for more than half a century were taken out and replaced by central heat and air-conditioning. The upstairs bathrooms were remodeled.
Other changes involved space, either expanded or put to new uses. Downstairs a back wall was taken out and the old screened-in porch replaced with a sun room. A walkway that had been outside was now enclosed. A full bathroom downstairs was converted into a half-bath and wet bar. The basement was made into a wine cellar and the attic was remodeled to serve as a home gym.
Visitors to the Troxell and Hansen-Pruss House will see a residence that combines many of the features typical of an early twentieth century suburban home with imaginative innovations from the later half. Like all the homes on this year’s tour the Hansen-Pruss House combines the charm and warmth of an older home with the creativity and livability of the 21st Century, and is an integral part of the fabric of historic Hope Valley.
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