When Butch and Lynn Henry compiled a list of about a dozen cities as potential retirement destinations, Aiken was not on their list.
"We were on our way to Charleston and stopped in Aiken," said Mr. Henry, who worked for 35 years in marketing, broadcasting and promotion of college sports at several universities before retiring in 2004.
Charmed by the city, the couple reconsidered their list and, in 2001, purchased a Woodside Plantation lot with the intent to build.
Before his retirement, the couple spent many weekends in Aiken and stayed downtown.
While her husband played golf, Mrs. Henry explored downtown. One day, while on a walk, she saw the 140-year-old Edward P. Stoney house on Newberry Street.
"She said, 'I saw a little house. It needs some work, but I think it would be fun,' " Mr. Henry said.
Although he was still more than two years from retirement, they decided to put their home in Alabama on the market and buy the Aiken house. In less than a week, their house sold and they purchased the Stoney house.
One of the things that drew Mrs. Henry to the home was its historic appeal. In the 1870s, Stoney was the first black councilman in Aiken County.
"It's special," said Mrs. Henry. "It's not a cookie-cutter house."
During the 1950s, the house became a rental property and fell into disrepair. At one point, neighbors filed a petition to have it demolished.
In 1996, Pamela Jones purchased the house and began renovations. It changed hands twice before the Henrys bought it, and with each set of owners, there were more improvements.
High gas prices don't bother the Henrys, who usually walk to everything the downtown has to offer.
"We've gotten so involved in downtown," said Mrs. Henry, who serves on the Aiken Design Review Board.
Mr. Henry said they would like to have their home placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Reach Charmain Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AT HOME WITH
THE FAMILY: Butch and Lynn Henry
THE HOUSE: 2,400 square feet, four bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms
IT'S A FACT: Since moving in, Mrs. Henry, a master gardener, has done a lot of work on the landscaping.