The History of Redwall

When it was first built, the property didn’t have a name. Clara Carter Hyatt decided she wanted a farm, and wanted to be able to run it by herself if necessary, as World War II had just started and help might not be available. She hired Katherine Cutler (later Katherine Cutler Ficken) to design the estate, and construction began in 1942.

Clara Hyatt Estate in 1942, viewed from Hoyles Mill Road

This was the view from Hoyles Mill Road, showing the long driveway leading to the house. This same approach remained in place until 2001, when the surrounding property was turned into the Vistas at Woodcliffe Park development.

According to one neighboring farmer, construction laborers were a little mystified at the design of the house. One worker stopped by the farmer’s house on his way home and shook his head, saying, “They’ve got me building a silo on that house!”

The front of Redwall

Clara only lived on the property until 1947, when she had married Tyler Gatewood Kent, a convicted spy and somewhat of a scoundrel. In a sad footnote, Clara ended her days in financial difficulties due to her husband’s profligate spending, and had traded her magnificent estate for life in a trailer park.

The farm was sold to Albert Harding Paul and his wife Filimora, who promptly renamed it Filbert Farm. Filimora was considered “frail and infirm” and spent time supervising a full-time staff of at least six. She was probably the one responsible for much of the landscaping around the property, as the early pictures don’t show much in the way of trees or shrubbery. We suspect the Pauls were responsible for some reconfiguring of the home’s interior, turning the third floor into a servants dormitory and possibly adding a rear staircase. Unfortunately, we do not have any floor plans showing the original design, so this is just speculation.

The Pauls lived on the farm until Filimora’s death in 1962, and her husband moved into the carriage house attached to the main house. He sold the property to attorney Harry Leet in the early 1970s, keeping a life estate on the house and approximately six acres surrounding it. Paul died on June 8, 1975, leaving an estate valued at almost $400,000, to be split between his brother and sister, with some minor bequests to others. He died childless, and after his death the house was occupied by a series of renters. The next owner was the Wear family, from whom we purchased the house in May 1997.

When we bought the house, the land surrounding it was still actively being farmed, and our kids loved to sit at the edge of the yard watching the big farm equipment working the land. However, we knew a development was planned for the surrounding acreage, so it wasn’t a surprise when things finally started happening in 1999. The barns and other buildings were torn down (but not before we took lots of pictures of them!), and the land graded down about six to ten feet. Due to a financial hissy fit by the developer, things fell into stasis and work halted until late 2000, when things started up in earnest and we found ourselves living in the middle of constant construction. By early 2001 the first new residents moved in, and the neighborhood rapidly expanded.