Kernersville, North Carolina: Korner's Folly

Jule Korner went a little nuts when he built his elaborate house a hundred years ago.
Address:
413 S. Main St., Kernersville, NC
Directions:
I-40 exit 203. Drive north on Hwy 66 to I-40 Business/US 421. Turn left onto ramp and take I-40 Business west to exit 14 (Main St.). Turn right toward Kernersville. The Folly is on the right, before you get to downtown.
Hours:
Th-Sa 10 am - 4 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
336-996-7922
Admission:
Adults $10, Kids 6 and over $6; younger-- free
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Korner's Folly Korner's Folly

The fun of this architecturally odd home is its disorienting effect on the visitor. The house has so many rooms, some on half-floors, that you're often unsure which floor you're on.

Going upwards, the tour spits you out at the very top, in one of the first private theaters in the US, where the Korners hosted children's little theater performances. There is a neat piano and cello from that era.

One of the floors has a child's room in it, with a sheer drop looking down on another floor that makes you wonder if the Korners didn't much like their own children, or care for their safety. Even funnier is that one of these half-sized children's rooms at one point housed their adult tutor, who must have banged his head every morning getting out of bed, or have been a hunchback.

[Billy Sugarfix, 12/23/2010]
Korner's Folly

An amazing house -- the self-proclaimed "Strangest House in the World" -- and aside from the hyperbole, it's got to be near the top of that list. Built and modified throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries; three floors with seven levels and 22 rooms; ceilings from 5-25 feet; indoor, operable theater in the attic; amazing decorations throughout (the man was an interior decorator by profession), including round tile, thousands of feet of crown molding, amazing furnishings, etc.-- all designed and much produced by Korner.

A relative said that it his efforts were a "folly"-- and Korner was so NOT self-conscious that he embraced the label avidly, even inscribing it in the tile on his front porch.

[eric schansberg, 07/04/2010]
Theater in the attic. Korner's Folly

Korner's Folly was the home of Jule Korner, an interior decorator and painter and the guy who painted the Bull Durham ads on barns throughout the South. Built between 1878-1880, it was continuously revised and renovated until Jule's death in 1924 (when he still felt the place was unfinished.) The house looks kind of normal on the outside, but inside are twenty-two rooms on three stories and seven distinct levels. There are odd little hallways, children's rooms where an adult can barely stand up, fifteen fireplaces (all different,) trap doors, odd murals, a pretty advanced series of air passages designed to carry heat throughout the house, a fireproof smoking room, and on the top floor a functioning theater.

Some of the hallways and staircases are so tight that, uh, let's see, what's the best way to say this, that visitors who are more than a little overweight won't be able to navigate them. In each room there's a card telling you the story of the room and which room to go to next. Without the cards it would be extremely easy to get lost and wander around trying to find a way out. Definitely worth a visit by fans of eccentric homes and wacky architecture.

[Dean Jeffrey, 10/03/2001]

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