Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Always and Forever Photography
Before America declared its independence in 1776, Mike Payne’s family cabin, now part of his home in Christiansburg, was built, log by log, from wood on the property. The two-story log home, which forms the core of the large house, has the time-worn pitch [slant] in the floors, the endearing caulking between logs and window panes that seem to move with your eyes, attesting to the high quality workmanship of more than two and a half centuries ago.
“There’s not a level floor in the place,” states Marilyn Payne, who married the once-widowed, now-retired, doctor with two small children more than 30 years ago. Over the years, she has stenciled the walls in period stencil shapes and colors. The original, low-beamed ceiling and checkered curtains in the living room feel like stepping back in time. A soapstone wood stove from Finland was installed for supplemental heat.
“The walnut, wood-pegged floors were milled on the farm, and they complement the original pine and wide oak flooring,” Mike points out as we wander into the dining room with its original table and on to the music room ~ a generous space of bookshelves, antique furnishings and a grand piano. Walls and doors feature unique painted grain, making the wood look like naturally-grained beauty, though all skillfully and artfully applied. Antique doorknobs and hinges look just as comfortable as the hand-knitted bedspreads and coverlets. It’s like a Colonial Virginia period museum, albeit lived in. Mike loves rocks, and there are rocks on display and rocks for door stops.
The new, glorious, light-filled, master suite downstairs with its four-poster bed and Marilyn’s 3-manual virtual organ stays empty at night, as the couple is so attached to the old bedroom in the log house portion. They trek downstairs each morning for the modern, spacious bathroom and their walk-in closets. “It sounds crazy, but we just cannot sleep as well as we do in one of the original cabin’s bedrooms. Look,” he points under the eaves in the next room, “the attic joists are marked with Roman numerals.”
Mike grew up in town and spent many happy times at the 180-acre family farm. He left for Davidson College in 1965, went on to medical school in Florida, then back to North Carolina for his first job, only to return home when his mother became ill. As luck would have it, a local practice needed an internist, and Mike was home to stay. He inherited the property in 1976 and has continued to preserve it, as well as expand and update some newer sections. They raised three children here.
While the Paynes enjoy much of their lives in the low-ceiling cabin rooms and outside, they equally embrace a contemporary, state-of-the-art kitchen, renovated last in 2002. Cherry cupboards, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, plenty of storage and requisite double pane windows above the sink overlooking a stunning landscape provide every convenience for food prep, cooking and entertaining.
It’s taken decades for Mike and Marilyn to get the yard where they want it, and they’re “almost there.” With many Japanese maples, conifers, daylilies and other perennials, this outdoor space is a sight to behold, anchored in the center by a granite fountain weighing more than 3 tons. “It took a back hoe and a crew of men to get this in,” he recalls. Beautiful grass, brick walkways and cozy patio furniture beckon anyone to rest and enjoy this lush landscape.
The Payne homestead is a unique place where history meets contemporary and rustic blends comfortably with technology and modern amenities. This delightful property is a testament to quality craftsmanship, creative renovation, ardent preservation and lots of tender loving care across more than three centuries.