Frank Columbus Boyles grew up in Randolph County, where his father served as a Methodist Episcopal preacher. At the age of 19, he moved to Greensboro where he took a job as a salesman, but he quickly advanced his salary scale when he was offered the clerk’s position at Greensboro National Bank. He grew more secure in his position and by 1894 he encouraged his recently widowed mother to move his siblings to Greensboro, where she purchased a lot at 216 South Mendenhall for $250. Sadly his mother passed away the next year, but Frank, just 23 years old, and his three brothers and sister remained in their fine new Queen Anne-style home. The house features a side-hall plan, with two primary rooms to the right of the main hall which in turn leads back to a large dining room.
In time, the Boyles children did quite well. Sister Blanche married next-door neighbor Marvin Carr, son of insurance company owner O. W. Carr. His brother Henry became a well-known medical doctor. Marvin took a position as an engineer with the city and youngest brother Pittman took a job at the bank with his brother. Frank married Myrtle Ham of Montgomery County and later held prominent positions such as president of Greensboro Shade Company in partnership with J. E Mitchell (House #3) and cashier at American Exchange National Bank.
In 1905 the house was sold to octogenarian John A. Harrison, a veteran of the Civil War who had been pardoned by Governor Holden in 1865. Harrison was from Nash County, where he was postmaster and ran a general store. Having recently lost his wife, Martha Ann, he lived with his grown children Bettie and Edro. The family quickly settled into Greensboro. Bettie earned income as a music teacher and Edro established the West End Drug Company just four blocks to the south on Spring Garden Street. When John passed away in 1908, the estate sold the house to Bettie, who maintained it as a rental property until 1919.
Lena and Henry Martin bought the home from Bettie and lived there until Henry’s death in 1955. Henry was a travelling salesman and the couple rented part of their commodious home to provide extra income. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, as the neighborhood fell victim to unfortunate zoning laws that allowed for dense housing uses, the property was operated as income-property instead of an historic property. Without continued investment and with rapid turnover of tenants, the Boyles-Harrison House fell into bad repair.
As part of the larger effort to foster preservation in College Hill, the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission bought the house in 1992 and sold it to Neal and Jim Persinger, with the requirement that the house be restored and returned to single-family use. The couple made structural repairs to the foundation and replaced the roof. New mechanical systems followed, and original features such as the stair bannister, oak and pine floors, claw-foot tubs, moldings and period wood mantles were restored. Those changes were featured in 1995 when the Boyles-Harrison House was opened for the College Hill Christmas Walking Tour. In 2008 the house was sold to Arlen and Jamie Nicolls. Today it features some of the finest period interior details in the city.
On May 18-19, Preservation Greensboro's Third Annual Tour of Historic Homes & Gardens will feature a total of ten vintage homes of the College Hill neighborhood. Plan to spend the weekend touring stunning homes of the nineteenth century that highlight interesting architecture, design ideas, and local history! Advanced tickets are available now at Extra Ingredient, Brown Gardiner Drug, Tasting Room, and Blandwood. Group tickets of ten or more are available for $15 per ticket. Make a weekend of it with Patron Passes, available at Blandwood Mansion, that include a fantastic College Hill Block Party on May 18th featuring crafted beers, live music, and great food!