In the fall of 1895 the Madisoniannewspaper announced, “Mr. Gus Perry is having a neat and cozy five-room cottage erected on his lot near the Presbyterian church.” Like many other houses in late nineteenth century Madison, this residence was constructed by Madison Variety Works, the owners of which lived nearby. The house exhibits the typical gable-and-wing plan which offsets the front to allow for a gable on one side and a covered porch on the other. The porch trim suggests a subtle hint of Queen Anne style.
In the late-1990s the Madison Presbyterian Church, which had come to own the century-old house at 369 Johnson Street, decided to clear the lot for greenspace and parking rather than repair the rundown house and keep it in its original in-town neighborhood. Thus the Perry house was transported to its present location in a mature pecan grove on Vine Street just outside the Madison Historic District and immediately behind the neoclassical mansion known as Poullain Heights (or Madison Oaks).
Visitors enter the house through an arbor and up a brick walk to the inviting front porch. The central hall and the four main rooms look and feel much as they would have when the house was built. The front door and most of the interior woodwork in the front section, including heart of pine floors in three of the main rooms, are original to the house. The rooms have original tongue-and-groove ceilings, and the hall has a matching ceiling rebuilt after the move. (The hall’s floor and ceiling were cut during the move.) The four independent working fireplaces were rebuilt after the house was moved. Bookshelves, old American pottery, and several antique pieces including a butler’s desk adorn the wide hall. The large painting in the dining room entitled “Ecce” is the last piece done by the late Gary Hudson, a renowned Madison lyrical abstract painter.
After relocation, a kitchen-bedroom-garage addition was added in the old kitchen location and to the left side and rear of the home. The large country kitchen with gourmet-quality appliances and adjoining sunroom was recently futher renovated and enlarged. A deck, overlooking the shaded back garden, sits off the master bedroom.
Homeowners Cassy and Kevin McGowan, who purchased the property in 2005 and dubbed it Garden on Vine, enjoy tending their 3.67 acres; and they do almost all the work themselves. The grounds include dozens of species placed where they can best profit from the lower Piedmont climate. The enclosed front yard garden features a potager to supply the kitchen with herbs and vegetables. To the side and rear, guests will see a small goat barn on the right and a four-stall horse barn on the left. Both are constructed of sturdy oak. The barn roof supports thirty solar panels that efficiently power the household. In between the two structures a shady circular garden is flanked by a boxwood hedge. Behind the house visitors will stroll on a flagstone walkway through the Japanese garden (kaiyū-shiki-teien) before reaching a large mobile by local sculptor Thomas Prochnow and returning to the open grassy area on the Vine Street side.