Built in 1880 and once billed as "The Strangest Home in the World," Körner's Folly in Kernersville, N.C. celebrated its 135th anniversary last Saturday. But it is not really a home in the conventional sense. Artist, decorator, interior designer, and "Man of a Thousand Peculiarities" Jule Gilmer Körner conceived of this structure as an entertaining space, bachelor quarters, horse stables, studio and—most importantly—showroom for the wares of his Reuben Rink Decorating and House Furnishing Company.
Today, the population of Kernersville is approximately 23,000, but when Körner finished the Folly in 1880, the town was home to 200 people. Heading toward historic downtown Kernersville, you pass the usual suspects of Southern suburban America—CVS, Walmart, Hibachi Grill, Cookout, Biscuitville, and several gas stations—but soon you leave these reminders of the present behind. The Folly is situated right up against South Main Street, as a business would have been in the late nineteenth century, in all its now-anomalous Victorian grandeur.