From ‘Hoarders’ to hotel: owners of NC mansion battle to open B&B in 31-room house

Once famous on “Hoarders,” this 31-bedroom mansion in North Carolina might soon be a bed-and-breakfast.
Once famous on “Hoarders,” this 31-bedroom mansion in North Carolina might soon be a bed-and-breakfast. Screengrab from Facebook

Two years ago, a 31-room mansion in North Carolina featured on the reality series “Hoarders” was known only for cluttered rooms crammed with trash and bird cages.

Now the owners of the historic Julian Price home in Greensboro are fighting to open the house as a bed and breakfast.

Eric and Michael Fuko-Rizzo were planning to set aside five bedrooms for a B&B, but a city zoning committee nixed the couple’s idea in May, WFMY reported. So they took the fight to court this week.

Forsyth County Judge Eric Morgan heard the appeal but has to weigh briefs from both parties before making a decision, according to the media outlet.

Still, the mansion has come a long way since bird cages.

Julian Price, the founder and president of Jefferson Life Insurance Company, built the home in 1929, according to a Facebook page for the house.

The English Tudor-inspired home is part stucco and brick with half-timbered walls, but it didn’t reach peak fame until recently.

In January 2017, the A&E series “Hoarders” aired a two-hour special on the mansion and its then-owner Sandra Cowart, with 1.2 million households watching, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Viewers were treated to a seemingly endless array of stuff Cowart hoarded in the four-story home, stacking its rooms with furniture, clothes, baskets, stuffed animals, picture frames, kitchen supplies, and sewing machines, according to the Observer.

It’s still one of the most popular episodes of “Hoarders” on the network and has re-aired numerous times, the Triad Business Journal reported.

The Fuko-Rizzos bought it in relatively poor condition after the bank foreclosed on Cowart, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

They transformed it into something of a “showcase,” the Business Journal reported, opening it up for tours to raise money for Preservation Greensboro and making headlines with a 911 call over drapery after a designer showcase.

A&E even returned to the mansion — also known as Hillside — earlier this year, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

The Fuko-Rizzos showed off their restoration efforts during the episode and touted plans for future short-term rentals in the 90-year-old house.

But the zoning commission stalled those plans with a 4-3 vote in May that formally rejected their request for the required B&B permit, the Greensboro News & Record reported.

According to the News & Record, most were in favor of seeing it through, including city staff, Greensboro’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Fisher Park Neighborhood Association — the residential district where the house is located.

But eight residents reportedly complained about potential noise disturbances and parking problems.

In the meantime, rooms are available for overnight booking on Airbnb.

The Fuko-Rizzos list three rooms and two suites between $175 and $225 a night with names like the Blue Room, the French Room and the Traveler’s Room. At a slight upcharge, the Cardinal and Dogwood suites are also available.

For large parties, there’s even the option of renting out the south and center wings — five bedrooms and five bathrooms to accommodate 11 guests — for $488 per night.

And the whole shebang? A meager $1,750 a night for 13 guests, six bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.