Citizens raise over $76K to save Miss Belle's Tea Room

At the Cameron Board of Commissioner’s regular meeting on Feb. 28, the town’s attorney Jim Van Camp said the total raised to save the Miss Belle’s Tea Room from demolition was $76,150, and the goal is to raise $175,000 by May 1.

“If not successful, donations will be reimbursed,” Van Camp said.

To move the historic structure across the street, Duke Energy must raise power lines, and Spectrum and Century Link must disconnect and reconnect fiber optic lines. Oldham House Movers must stabilize the historic structure as it lifts it up off the original foundation and moves it across the street. Each company pays engineers and work crews and must pay for permits.

Van Camp said the town will host a public fundraiser on March 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with an auction at the Foust house, a band, and food.

Auction items include antiques and yard sale items.

To help sort and label auction items, call Town Hall at (910) 245-3212

The Foust house is on Carthage Street next to Cameron Baptist Fellowship Hall.

Tax-deductible donations may be made by check, payable to Cameron Historic Preservation, Inc. and mailed to P.O. Box 1, Cameron, N.C. 28326.

Owners of the Foust house, Gary and Lora Oldham, joined forces with the town board, concerned citizens, and the owners of Miss Belle’s Tea Room and Antiques & Collectibles to move the historic structure across the street onto a one-acre lot between Mary Emma Thomas’ house and Cameron Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on Carthage Street. The plan is to move the original house and the L-shaped wing, and a barn.

According to the Moore County Register of Deeds, book 4525, pages 146 to 148, Miss Belle’s was sold on July 29, 2015, to Walk by Faith Christian Center, Inc, Apostle James Prince and Beverly Prince

After the Princes took steps toward the demolition of the property, local citizens stepped up to save the property.

“We prefer not to do an interview,” Apostle James Prince wrote in a text to Sandhills Sentinel in Sept. 2022. “As we are not at a point of having firm plans for replacing the house with anything at this point. The land will be kept up and clear for the foreseeable future. This is a church property and usage will be determined in conjunction with ministry direction.”

Miss Belle’s was built in 1892, and the Victorian-era house is listed in the National Historical Register as the Murdock McKeithen house. It was the home of Murdock and his wife Isabelle McKeithen, Cameron’s founders.

Learn more about historic Cameron from this Sept. 22 article. 

In other town business, commissioner Joey Frutchey said the November election has a drink-by-the-glass ballot item. He said, “offering alcohol would draw in a young crowd, and those types of people are a good thing.”

It would attract new businesses and investors to pursue town development. He asked the board and attendees to discuss the ballot item with town residents, so they get comfortable with it before voting.

The town’s notary service increased from $5 per acknowledgment to $10, due to a new standard from the State Secretary’s Office.

Feature photo: Miss Belle’s Tea Room in downtown Cameron shines in the morning sun in September 2021.

~ Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected]

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