It was quite a surprise for the mayor of Winterville and his family when they found out that the search for a new home would be filmed for a national audience.
Mayor Dodd Ferrelle, his wife Cameron Bliss Ferrelle and their three children, who moved out of a home they lived in for almost 13 years to a bigger house earlier this year, will be featured in a future episode of the popular HGTV reality show “House Hunters.”
As reported in the Athens Banner-Herald, Ferrelle said the producers of the show – which made its debut nearly 20 years ago and has viewership of about 20 million per month – informed him that the program will air Nov. 8 at 10 p.m. on HGTV.
“We may try to do something fun out here in Winterville and show it at the auditorium and maybe raise some money for a local charity or something,” said Ferrelle. “We’ll see it when everybody else does. From talking to the producers out there, they told me it was one of their favorite episodes. So, I’m looking forward to seeing it.”
The family previously lived on North Georgia Avenue before moving to their house, which was built in 1861 by John Winter, who along with other family members gives the town its name. Ferrelle, who was elected mayor in 2015, had to find a home within the city limits to be able to remain in office.
“We were starting to look because of our three kids,” he said. “We started looking for a house and found some that we liked.”
The Ferrelles found a home on South Georgia Avenue, an 1836 house originally constructed for Henry Winter, the train depot keeper at what was then the Six-Mile Station. Winter later encouraged his cousin John to purchase property in the area that became known as Winterville, which was incorporated in 1904.
“We’ll still be neighbors with our old house, even though we moved from one side of the train depot to the other side of the train depot,” said Ferrelle, who said it has been reported that Henry Winter’s home was the first built in the city and John Winter’s house was the first private home built there.
With the history of both homes and the creative endeavors of the Ferrelles (Dodd is a musician and songwriter, leading the band the WinterVillians, and Cameron is an award-winning artist), Realtor Daniel Collins thought their story would be one “House Hunters” would be interested in and contacted the HGTV people he’d worked with before on a show about small houses.
“Our Realtor sent our story in without us knowing it and the producers out in Los Angeles really liked the idea of the fact I couldn’t move outside the city limits, I’m a musician, Cameron is an artist, the Realtor is a musician, we’re moving from one historic home to another,” said Ferrelle.
“They liked the history of the city and interviewed Cameron and I remotely and decided to do the project
and sent their crew out here, and we did the show in February and March.”
Ferrelle said his main purpose for participating in the production was to show off Winterville.
“They came out and did the show and I agreed to do it because they were going to highlight the city,” he said. “They asked for locations to highlight and of course we had a bunch. I don’t know what they’ll pick to show but they got a lot of good footage for the city.”
As for the stress of moving along with the stress of being in front of cameras, Ferrelle said a film crew helped the family including son Dodd Jr., 12, daughter Bliss, 11, and son Lucas, 7, sort the situation.
“It was crazy because being mic’d up and having a camera on you while you’re doing all that is stressful, but it kind of took the stress away from moving and put it on to a creative stress, and we both are creative people and we liked that,” Ferrelle said of he and his wife.
The Ferrelle family loves their new home since the kids all have their own rooms, Cameron has a space for her art studio and the mayor will soon be setting up his music room.
“Now we’ve got plenty of room; it’s a good bit bigger,” said Ferrelle. “... It’s an awesome place and we love it. It’s 2 acres right off the main street in Winterville and we’re still right in the middle of town.”
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