Where We Live: A weekly look at the homes in the Cape Fear Region
CASTLE HAYNE — Over a set of railroad tracks in northern New Hanover County, down a winding dirt and gravel road, there’s a 10-acre plot of land by the Cape Fear River that Allen Walker calls home.
Welcome to “Walker World,” a heavily wooded property located at 453 Blossom Ferry Road in Castle Hayne and the latest feature in “Where We Live.” Not only is this the home of Walker and his three children, it’s also an “Airbnb” for visitors to the area, an all-in-one wedding venue and a hub for small concerts and other such musical gatherings.
It’s an “organic artist retreat,” Walker said of his place.
Walker — a 40-year-old father, artist and carpenter — invited Port City Daily to Castle Hayne to tour his home and experience the many pieces of art and other items he’s used to build the unique atmosphere of Walker World. There’s the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure; that statement couldn’t be more true for Walker.
Everything, other than the original cabin, has been reclaimed and salvaged. Walker enjoys building and creating things with whatever he can find.
“What’s amazing about it is, the whole place is built out of junk, every piece of art has either been donated as a gift or done by my father – a lot of stuff from my children – it’s all stuff that was just close to not being really valuable,” he said.
Art pieces are bought every now and then to support artists, Walker said. His purchased collection has been “slowly evolving.” But, everywhere you walk, both inside his home and outside on the surrounding property, there is some form of reclaimed art or salvaged items Walker has used to build the art that is his home.
“The essence of this place is freedom. It’s like it’s supposed to be. Even in its mild dishevelment,” Walker said.
Walker purchased the property in 1999. But he has since grown the home and property, making several additions on his own. Even the design of his now multi-story home has been built by his own hands, to suit his own unique style of living.
Inside Walker’s home, photographs, paintings, sculptures and other pieces cover nearly every inch of wall space. The home has an open layout with lots of windows that allow plenty of natural light inside. The kitchen has a large bar or seating area that opens into the dining room.
“It’s a nice open kitchen where you could be cooking and people are coming in. You can see out to the river … everywhere you look there’s something that is rich,” Walker said.
The kitchen opens into the living area and “main salon.” There’s also an art/music room with a grand piano that leads to Walker’s master bedroom.
Take a trip up a spiral stair case and you’ve made it into his upstairs loft. There, you will find a large bedroom that opens to a smaller sleep-quarters area, as well as a a tub and a balcony overlooking the front courtyard. There’s also an extended loft that leads to the home, with another small patio space that is perfect for catching the best view of the back entertainment area and river.
Outside, the home is surrounded by dense forest, including oak trees and some palms. Walker’s main home is surrounded by several other buildings, old cars, a pool table, more art, and other items Walker has picked up along the way, including about a dozen pianos.
Though just a few of the pianos outside are working, if Walker is near one that still has sound he may play for you a quick, soulful tune. In the backyard, Walker has built a mini-amphitheater, complete with a grand piano overlooking the Cape Fear River, in which musically-inclined guests can play.
“I got it in a fire off of Windemere,” Walker said of his outside grand. “A buddy of mine called me and said, ‘man this piano is in here and if you don’t come get it, it’s going to be crushed and demolished with the house.’ ”
Walker retrieved the piano, cleaned it as best as he could and put it back together for the set of his stage. It’s been next to the river in the amphitheater for over a year and it still plays.
“This is where pianos come to die and they are happy about it,” Walker said. “I love the pianos … my little girl plays the piano, all of [my children] really. You know, to just come outside and play the piano by the river, it’s just cool.”
Walker said his property is a constant project, one in which he enjoys “full time.”
What’s Walker’s inspiration? “Why not?” he answered.
“My father is an artist and was always an artist … everything you see here is just where I came from in so many ways,” Walker said.
“If this is your thing, it’s wonderful. And if it’s not, you can’t stand it. Which is great. It makes it clear,” Walker said. “When you’re here there’s no pretending. I like that a lot … This is how it is here. Take it or leave it. And it’s totally fine if you don’t. But we’re not trying to make it something that it’s not.”
For those who do enjoy the river, music, art and the outdoors, Walker offers his home as a rental a spot, which has been used for music videos, concerts and weddings.
“Bands have played at the little amphitheater with that piano, just rock-n-roll. We’ve had a time,” Walker said.
You may catch one of Walker’s upcoming music events. Or, for those passing through the area, a single night’s stay at Walker World is $600. For weddings, it’s $3,500 for a four-night family stay on Walker’s property, including reception and venue space.
“They get to spend three or four days here. And if they want to go out on the boat and I’m feeling it, and they’re feeling it, I’ll take everybody up the river and break the champagne … anything they want to do, they can do,” Walker said about the weddings. “They don’t have to be on a beach and get married in three hours and then have to run out.
“And of course, a lot of people want to get married in a white church and this has got nothing to do with it. But if they like pianos, and they got a little hippie in them, or they got some art and philosopher in them, it’ really turns them on,” he said.
Those who do visit Walker’s place, often both receive and give something back, Walker said, adding that he has collected many of his visitors’ artwork over the four year’s he has opened up the home to visiting guests.
“People get in here, over and over again – people that aren’t even really fond of it in so many ways – something happens to them that’s slightly magical or inspirational,” he said. “There’s some sort of power or force that is happening here. And I’m just delighted to be a part of it. I want to help people grow and this is how I do it.”
Take a short tour with Allen Walker:
Where We Live is a weekly feature looking at the homes and unique places to stay in the Cape Fear Region. Do you have a home, on or off the market, that our readers may be interested in seeing? Let us know at PCD@localvoicemedia.com.