EPPING — A colorful controversy has the community buzzing after the new owner of a 19th century Victorian house on Main Street painted it purple as part of her plan for an arts center.
Vandy Leigh’s improvements to the now purple property at 218 Main St. have been the talk of the town in recent weeks.
The Exeter woman bought the house in March 2018 and has been working to transform it into her new business, Creative Community Space, which is available to those in the arts and healing arts community to rent for classes, workshops, performances, and other activities.
Most agree that the formerly white building that has stood on Main Street since the 1880s was in need of a facelift as age had taken its toll, but the color scheme came as a surprise.
The purple has offended some who remember how the house was always white when it was owned by the late Robert Low, but it’s made others smile.
Based on comments she’s heard around town and the discussion on social media, Leigh estimates that about 75% of people like it while 25% think it’s awful.
Some passersby yelled at the painters from Tyler McAniff Painting to change the color during the painting process and someone called the town offices to complain, but the art teacher with big plans wasn’t changing her mind.
She said she has no regrets about the paint job.
“This is actually lilac and lilac is a Victorian color. The middle section is a dark plum, which is also a Victorian color. But you know what? It serves my purpose,” she said.
One woman commented about how she’s driven by the house for 20 years and never noticed it until now.
Others also complained when she removed overgrown rhododendron bushes that covered part of the house, but their removal has made it more noticeable.
Some didn’t like the red roof, but Leigh said it’s always been red.
The color change did need planning board approval because the property was being switched from a residence to a business.
“She’s an artist and they trusted her judgment with the color,” Town Planner Brittany Howard said.
Neighbor Grace Frost’s jaw dropped when she first saw the purple. She yelled to the painters, “Please tell me that’s primer!”
While she admits she didn’t like the color at first, Frost said it’s grown on her and she’s cool with it now.
“I think everybody needs to get over it,” she said. “They’ve restored it. If you don’t like it, suck it up. It is what it is.”
Frost’s granddaughter calls it the “Up” house, referring to the colorful house from the Disney movie by the same name.
Other girls think it looks like a doll house.
The new color has also made it a landmark for giving directions.
“Turn at the purple castle,” Frost joked.
Becky Dillman of Exeter admired the color when she picked up her daughter from an art class on Wednesday.
“I love the purple. I think it tells a story when you show up,” she said.