See how this couple transformed an 1800s Italianate mansion in the heart of downtown Raleigh for their snowy, roaring 20s celebration.
Drive over the Boylan Bridge in North Carolina, and you’ll see the Heights House between ancient oak trees. An elegant estate welcome you and your wedding guests as you settle in for a weekend of comfort, privacy, and celebration.
Every time we photograph there, we discover more old-world charm and more reasons to fall in love with this property.
Today, we are sharing six reasons why you should consider a historic venue like the Heights House for your wedding or celebration.
- Rich History
Enter into Heights House (formerly known as Montfort Hall), and you’re walking into – and through – Raleigh’s history.
This property was commissioned in 1858 by William Montfort Boylan with the guidance of British architect William Percival. The Italianate-style mansion was completed in 1860 and sits on the highest point of the now historic Boylan Heights neighborhood in Downtown Raleigh.
The home has changed hands several times and gone through several renovations. Today, Heights House is one of the only pre-Civil War houses remaining in Raleigh. There’s just something about being in a home that’s “seen” many lives lived in and around it. To walk through its halls is to walk through time, and that’s kind of magical, no?
- Kaleidoscope of Past and Present
Reimagined in 2021, owners Sarah and Jeff Shepherd opened Heights House to the public and beautifully merged its past with the present by combining modern furniture and décor with original architectural design and details.
The house is made up of four common spaces perfect for intimate ceremonies, each with a functioning fireplace. There are also sitting rooms, a parlor, a library, and porches where guests can mingle during cocktail hour.
Everywhere you look, there are exquisite details: vintage cameras and books, gold-framed mirrors, Italian garden statues, marble finishing, opulent columns, plush furniture, and a stunning staircase.
Sarah and Jeff put so much love and time into enhancing the home’s beauty. As a result, you won’t have to bring in much of your own wedding décor.
- Beautiful Lighting & Photo Spaces
The home is pretty much one big, beautiful photo space. And inside, you’ll find many large windows, perfect for portrait framing. Not only that, but given that all the indoor lights are dimmable, you’re able to set the mood however you see fit.
For instance, in the Drawing Room, the natural light blankets everything in a bright, airy beauty. The Parlor is another gorgeous, light-filled space – complete with a lovely fireplace, black velvet chairs, and a chic bar. Chandeliers hang like sparkling earrings from the ceiling while notched windows cast sunbeams into the room.
The spiraling staircase, front doors, and outdoor porch are also excellent spots for wedding photos.
- The Most Gorgeous Getting Ready Suite
When the wedding morning arrives and everything sets into motion, it’s nice to have a serene space in which to ease into the day. Fortunately, Heights House has a beautiful designated area for the bride, groom, and wedding party to spend their getting-ready moments.
The honeymoon suite features an adjacent gathering room with a clawfoot tub and walk-in shower, seating area, a double vanity, two fireplaces, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
And the wedding party rooms are outfitted with seating spaces, a sound system, multiple mirrors, vanities, private restrooms, and lots of natural light for all of those must-have getting-ready photos.
- Your Guests Can Stay the Night
Heights House has nine en-suite rooms that can sleep 20 of your guests. And there’s a mix of historic and modern options to choose from.
Two historic king rooms offer spacious floor plans and opulent details like mantled fireplaces, arched windows, and Juliet balconies. A walk-in wardrobe gives guests plenty of space to store wedding weekend items. And when staying on the second floor, they’ll have a spectacular view of the grounds and Raleigh.
There are also more modern-style rooms featuring unique furnishings and local art. Either way, your guests will be in total comfort. And everyone being in one place makes things so much easier.
- Ability to Use the Grounds
The grounds around the Heights House are incredibly versatile – and beautiful to boot! Old magnolia and oak trees surround the property, and the landscaping accentuates the towering trees.
You’re welcome to use the grounds to transition guests from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception throughout your event. A small tent can fit on the East Lawn for a seated dinner and high-top tables can be set up across the space for cocktail hour. The southwest corner is the perfect place to cozy up next to the fire pit or set up a s’mores bar for your guests to enjoy after dinner.
These are only some of the reasons why we think historic homes make for fantastic wedding venues. If this looks like a place you’d like to get married (or have an engagement/branding session), let us know!
Nicole and Brian took the time to answer a few questions for us as well:
Why did you choose your wedding venue?
Brian and I moved into Boylan Heights in May 2020 when the country was on a stand-still due to the pandemic. With not a lot to do, we began taking evening walks every day after work and on weekends, and quickly fell in love with the neighborhood and this gorgeous mansion right before the Boylan Bridge. Heights House was still the salmon-hued Montfort Hall, and we could see that a renovation project was underway. We watched the progress week by week and were ecstatic to find out that it would be a hotel and wedding venue. When Brian proposed, we knew exactly where we wanted to get married. It was so exciting for us to be able to live out that dream.
How would you describe the design of your wedding?
Our home, like many others in Boylan Heights, was built in the 1920’s, and we developed a particular affinity for the 20’s aesthetic. We designed our wedding to be art deco-inspired, playing off some of the gorgeous elements of Heights House. The biggest surprise was the absolutely STUNNING garland that Kelly Odom designed over the fireplace where we exchanged our vows. I had sent him my design inspo photos with white orchids and kumquats, but had no idea how it would play out. Seeing it in person for the first time with my groom in view was just an awesome moment.
Any reflections on photography?
Working with Radhika and Ian was one of the highlights of our day. We felt that you completely understood what we wanted, but also added so much creativity and skill that blew us away! Your positivity and excitement was felt throughout the guests, and so many people commented about how well-coordinated you two worked. Photography can be expensive, but these pictures will last us until we’re old and gray, and for us it was worth every penny.