All About the Mims House

The Leslie-Alford-Mims House or the Mims House, as the locals call it, is a historic Holly Springs landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places by The United States Department of the Interior and is a Wake County Historic Landmark.  The original house is circa 1849, east wing circa 1876, west wing circa 1900.  It has always been a mystery to me.  It does not face the road but at a 90-degree turn, so you really never face the front.  It’s shrouded in 4 huge magnolia trees.  It has been vacant and left for disrepair since we have lived in Holly Springs, 10 years.  I have always said it should be made into a bed and breakfast or something great to draw business into Holly Springs.  We are primarily a bedroom community with few businesses, compared to other nearby towns.  It has always held a mystique for me.

Not too long ago, I noticed that there was some repair and painting going on.  The magnolias were trimmed and it looked like there was something happening to the old home.  I knew there was too much to be done for someone to be living it was basically inhabitable.  I had heard rumors a family with big dreams purchased it.  Little did I know that I would find out and possibly have a personal connection with the new owners.

We had our one-year anniversary and were looking for a bit of publicity.  Your Door and More contacted Mayor Sears and inquired if there were any Holly Springs landmarks that he thought would be a benefit to the town’s local art collection.  Mims House was his first choice since it is part of the seal of the Town.  We were so excited since it held such mystery for us.  Lisa took the initial photos.  Lisa went on a typically fall morning; the pictures have a foggy dew about them.  It added to the allure.  I found there were some details she did not get.  Later that day, my husband suggested a trip to the library.  I needed to get some more shots so I said, “can I go too but we can stop off to get some shots of the Mims.”  The kids agreed and off we went.

My husband and I started discussing and taking pictures.  The trees were such an issue I took successive prints to create a panorama-like picture.  We could see someone working in the house.  That someone opened the front door and said, “Excuse me, can I help you?”  We both stood there for a few moments and just looked at each other.  I approached and explained what I was doing.  We greeted each other and shook hands.  My husband stuck his hand out and said, “Hi, my name is Jim Priest, this is my wife Brenda Priest.”  The man said, “Excuse me?”  We repeated.  He said, “My name is Charles Priest!”  We all again just stood there in utter silence!  Apparently, Charles’ family is traced his family, except one family member a few generations back, lost in Canada, which is where my husband’s father is from.  We all had tingles on the back of our necks.

After the ice was broke, I explained what we were doing and he invited us in!  Wow!  Turns out Charles and his girlfriend, Jessica have purchased this house to be a wedding facility, bed and breakfast and Day Spa.  They already own one Spa in Cary, NC.  Theirs will be the first wedding!  They gave us a tour of the 38-room mansion.  Giving details of what will be where, what each room was and we walked up to the third floor and told us the widow’s walk balcony is where the bride and groom will eat their first meal together.  We toured until the light faded, as there was not electricity yet.

We said our farewells I the dark.  I gave them our company information and asked if we could contact them to see if we could do business.  My mind was reeling with excitement of the tour and the possibilities of business transactions.

All the while doing the actual illustration I kept replaying the tour in my mind…this was the teacher’s wing which will be turned into suites…this is the bride preparation room and the groom’s room…here is where we will reconstruct the porte-cochere for the limos to pull up…on and on it my mind swirleded.

It was so much fun to work on this project.  Who knew a when we went looking for a bit of publicity for Your Door and More, it would lead to so much, guess that is what life is all about!

Brenda Priest and Lisa Drymon


  1. The house was not in fact purchase by Charles Priest but was purchased by my father, Brian Barber. He contracted Charles Priest to do work inside the Mims House. I just thought you should know! You are right though, the house is so beautiful and has so much potential for the town of Holly Springs. I actually was just over there today and I fall in love with it every time I see it. Cheers!

  2. Hi, I know this is 8 months ago you wrote this – any update on the progress? I was born in Apex, live in Holly Springs, and this would be a perfect place for my wedding next year!

  3. I was wondering myself. I know Brian Barber sold the property the house sits on and the additional 19 acres. It will become the Mim’s Property, owned and operated by the Town of Holly Springs. As for the house, I am not sure. Let me look into the progress and get back to you!

  4. Jennifer Priest says

    We never claimed to own the home Kimberly and my husband and I were never paid $1 by your father for the work we did to the home, but invested our own money, blood, sweat and tears in it and went bankrupt. Even the lovely chandeliers once hung in our day spa and you will find in the walls pieces of us. We were promised many things, for our hard work, but received nothing. Yes, it was uninhabitable and a terrible lesson to learn for us in humanity and honesty.

  5. Lauren MJ Connelly says

    What I wouldn’t give to see the inside of this house. I wish the people of Holly Springs had access to it since it’s the most grand, historic home in our town!

  6. I have always been intrigued by this home & it’s history. What a shame the Town cannot promote the home & form a “Friends of the Mims House” committee to promote interest in having the home preserved. It could be rented out for weddings, reunions and meetings. With Novartis coming to Holly Springs & the town growing as it is, the beautiful old mansion needs to be a showcase of the town. I truly hope it can happen. We need to continue to preserve all the history of our state we can.

  7. Hi Sharon!

    The Owner Brian Barber and I had a discussion about creating “Friends of the Mims Manor.” He is overjoyed. Plan with meeting with him in late February to start the plans. It would actually run under him or even perhaps the Holly Spring Historical Society. More to come on this!

  8. Ricky Kelley says

    I am Richard Kelley the care taker of the Historic Mims Manor. I work with the current owner Mr. Barber, and in the spring of 2014 we have launched the property as a wedding and event business. We have a face book page where you can get all the updated content as to what is going on. Please like us at Historic Mims Manor and for tours or to book your event please contact me at 919-434-1507. It is truly a unique venue to hold your next special event fundraiser or corporate retreat.

  9. I know this was a long time ago and i’m guessing it’s no longer a wedding house… But do they allow tours?

  10. Hi Bryce! The Town of Holly Springs has revoked the current certificate of occupancy. The caretaker has moved out. The property will be purchased by a husband and wife in the near future. Their plan is to turn it into a wedding venue! This poor house has been through so much. Hope the new owners will be able to put the money and love into a full restore!

  11. Are there updates as to the ownership of the mansion? I see the last post was dated 9/25/2014 and it advised a couple was purchasing it. I would love to hold my wedding there and would like to get additional information. I tried the website address however, it has expired. Any info would be very helpful. Thank you

  12. Edward Mims was my great great uncle, and I have such fond memories of exploring this place inside and out as a little girl! After Uncle Ed’s passing, the property was bequeathed to my grandparents and I remember spending the better part of summer break there, helping grandma clean it up and whatnot. I was very sad when I learned that they sold the place, but I’m glad that, ultimately, it ended up in the right hands.

  13. Who is Edward Mims? Want to trace whether or not he is kin to my family. James William Mims married to Hattie Balentine Harvey, Berkeley Country, S. C. My father was Dr. James Lloyd Mims, brother Dr. Harry W. Mims, sisters Kate Mims Barry and Zada Mims Morgan. We are in the DAR as related to Arnold Harvey. I look forward to receiving some information from Emily….Ginger Mims Alexander Neustadt

  14. I have no idea. Reach out to the Town of Holly Springs Historian for more information, she can definitely point you in the right direction. Her name is Barb, Phone: (919) 552-6221

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