Ritchie Hill has been part of the Ritchie family since 1906 when purchased by Charles F. Ritchie and his wife, Lily. Charles was a teacher in Albemarle, NC and worked in a hardware store before he moved to Concord. When he married Lily Patterson, he opened Ritchie Hardware Store in downtown Concord. As soon as Charles and Lily could afford a home of their own, they bought Ritchie Hill which at the time, was considered to be "in the country." The acreage allowed the Ritchies to have a cow and a couple of pigs, as well as chickens and a large vegetable garden to feed their growing family. Over the years, the land was divided to provide lots for Charles and Lily's children. Today, sitting high on "Ritchie Hill," the home rests on four and a half acres - the largest tract of land in the downtown historic area.
Stories of life growing up at 391 Union Street are rich with descriptions of family gatherings eating grandmother's chicken and dumplings every Saturday. Pound cake, rum cake, and cheese straws filled the table, with cookies and boiled custard to round out the menu. It was paradise for any kid growing up, really. You could hide dozens of Easter eggs in the big front yard, play football until dark and continue with 'Capture the Flag' when the streetlights come on. You could even roller-skate across the front porch, rain or shine! And, that big front porch held countless parties, rehearsal dinners, teas, bridge clubs and weddings. Roller-skates or not, it remains everyone's favorite feature, unique to Ritchie Hill.
Saving Ritchie Hill
In 1997, Robert, Beth, Heath and Doug Ritchie inherited Ritchie Hill from their Aunt Margaret. But as the home passed its 100th year, it also faced major repair work that would be time and resource intensive. In 2009, after being home to four generations, the siblings reluctantly put the house up for sale, searching for a family that would restore its original glory. The "for sale" sign, however, would be short-lived.
With a long history of family-owned ventures, and encouraged by the success of Ritchie Hill Bakery, in 2013 the Ritchies conceptualized the home as an event venue. More important than the business aspects of the concept, was the promise that the home could be restored, remain in the family, and enjoyed for generations to come. A year later, the family broke ground on what would become the area's finest banquet home.
After two years of planning and working closely with the City of Concord, the Ritchies opened Ritchie Hill in March 2015, sharing a North Carolina landmark home that will make memories for the next 100 years.
Restoration of Ritchie Hill began in July 2014 with a goal not only to fortify the structure and upgrade utilities, but to restore the unique architectural features of the home from top to bottom. Great care was taken throughout the project to preserve as much original hardware and woodwork as possible. In fact, many materials, such as the original pine framing, were re-used elsewhere in the restoration.
Thanks to the Charlotte Observer and Haily Wilson for the content of this piece.