Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

The Renaissance of a Raleigh Landmark: The Merrimon-Wynne House Opens Its Doors on Historic Blount Street

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sparkle of elegance returns to Blount Street

Goodnight Raleigh staff were invited to the grand opening of the renovated historic Merrimon-Wynne House last Friday night; and it was a grand celebration indeed. The event was attended by 400 guests who enjoyed delectable hors d’oeuvre, tasty cocktails and a lively jazz band. Attendees were invited to explore the mansion from the formal public rooms on the first floor, private chambers on the second, and, ascending the monumental staircase, all the way to the utilitarian attic above.

After a six-month restoration project, which brought the house back to grandeur, Jodi Stenkowski, the owner of Merrimon-Wynne, will operate a wedding and special events venue from the Blount St. landmark. On Friday night she beamed radiantly as she greeted guests in the spacious front stair hall.

Earlier in the evening a brief ribbon cutting ceremony was held on the expansive front porch. North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest assisted Jodi and her husband John Stenkowski in doing the honors. After a short narrative on the restoration of the the historic mansion, the Lieutenant Governor observed that the “Merrimon-Wynne House is the new jewel of Blount Street.” Jodi thanked the crowd for the turnout and invited everyone to come inside.

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Lieut. Governor Dan Forest (left) assists Jodi and John Stenkowski in cutting the ribbon.

Inside the mansion we were greeted by wait staff carrying trays loaded with all sorts of mouth-watering canapes. An open bar set up in the northwest parlor offered beverages and cocktails to the guests. My favorite of the evening was the “1876,” a libation concocted in that year as a mix of champagne, cointreau, and a splash of orange juice. It tasted much like a ‘high-octane’ mimosa. Very tasty. The special drink had been selected for the open house celebration as a nod to the Merrimon-Wynne House itself, which was built in 1876.

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Early arrivals to the grand opening partake of beverages in the northwest parlor.

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This is how the northwest parlor appeared in 2009.

Over the course of the evening, as guests continued to arrive and fill the house, there was never a sense of overcrowding, as the rooms, with their 14-foot ceilings, are vast.

Even so, an enormous tent had been erected in the side yard under which deserts, coffee and more cocktails were served.

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An elaborate hors d’oeuvre table occupied the center of the southwest parlor. 

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The southwest parlor, pre-renovation. 

The whole experience of the grand opening celebration of the Merrimon-Wynne House was wonderful, and we, the staff of GNR, thank Jodi Stenkowski for inviting us. All the best to you Jodi in your ambitious venture. We are confident that those who will attend celebrations there in the coming years will enjoy this elegant and gracious place as much as we did!

If you are interested in reserving this Blount St. landmark as the venue for your wedding or special event, you can contact Jodi through the Merrimon-Wynne website.

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Local dignitaries assisting Jodi Stenkowski in the groundbreaking at Merrimon-Wynne six months ago included Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Raleigh city councilman Bonner Gaylord and architect Steven Schuster of Clearscapes.

Author’s note:

Goodnight Raleigh has published two previous posts on the Merrimon-Wynne House. We brought our readers the history of the house in Raleigh’s Merrimon-Wynne House: A Win-Wynne Situation.

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I took this photo of the Merrimon-Wynne House at its original site on Wilmington St about 1966.

In 2008 we wrote about the move of the Merrimon-Wynne House from Wilmington St. to Blount St. in Moving a Monument.

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The Merrimon-Wynne House, shortly after its arrival to the Blount St. site in 2008.

A special shout out:

Goodnight Raleigh would like to recognize those who played a role in the restoration of the Merrimon-Wynne House, as well as those who brought us that magnificent grand opening celebration.

The renovation of the house and landscaping of the grounds was carried out by the design team of Clearscapes, CT Wilson Construction, and Ruppert Landscape.

The festivities featured beautiful flowers by Fresh Affairs, décor and rentals by Party Reflections and Simply Put Vintage Rentals, lighting by Total Production Services, catering by Donovan’s Dish and Event Espresso, and favors by The Cupcake Shoppe. The event was executed by Katie Dunn, owner of Events by La Fête, and featured music by Sidecar Social Club and Joe Bunn DJ Company.

 

 


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