The Curious Story Behind Billy Graham’s Childhood Home

By   •   March 4, 2014

Billy Graham Library grounds with house

Since 2007, hundreds of thousands of feet have stepped across the threshold of Billy Graham’s childhood home, a two-story brick Colonial built in 1927, now located on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But few know the full story of how the house ended up there.

For the twists and turns of that saga, you need to talk to Mel Graham.

Mel Graham
Mel Graham

Mel is Billy Graham’s nephew. Like his famous Uncle Billy, Mel has fond memories of growing up on the Graham Brothers Dairy Farm off Park Road in Charlotte.

A Charlotte-area developer and Chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Executive Committee Board, who has served on the board for over a decade, Mel is full of fascinating and funny anecdotes about growing up in the Graham family.

Like the story of how he took apart and reassembled the family home … twice.

In the early 1980s, as Charlotte’s city sprawl reached the farmland once considered the outskirts of town, the Graham family decided to sell what was left of the dairy farm, including the old, brick Colonial.

Mel was an impetuous young man who was interested in the construction business. He had recently lost his grandmother, “Mother Graham,” and couldn’t stand the thought of losing her house, a place filled with nostalgia.

“Without asking anybody—I was just a young kid who wouldn’t take no for an answer—I called the developer that my family had sold the property to and asked, “What are you gonna do with my grandmother’s house?’ He said, ‘Well, I guess we’re gonna tear it down.’”

Mel didn’t hesitate to ask if he could have the house instead. The answer: yes—but with a big catch. He had to figure out how to move it, and quickly.

It didn’t take long for him to realize that moving the house in one piece was not an option. It was too tall, even without the roof. After exhausting every other possibility, he decided there was only one way to save his grandmother’s home: take it apart brick by brick and put it back together somewhere else.

Mel had just completed meticulous plans for the nearly impossible project when the developer suddenly changed his mind.

He had received a last-minute offer from PTL, an organization with a massive campus just south of Charlotte. Instead of staying in the family, the old farmhouse was to be moved to the religious theme park in South Carolina.

“So it put me out to pasture, to use farming terms,” Mel recalled with a laugh. Of course, he wasn’t laughing back then.

“But as only God could do, about two or three weeks after that happened, PTL ended up calling me,” he said.

The organization was at a loss as to how to move the house. In an ironic twist, PTL had to hire Mel Graham to move it for them. It was the last thing Mel wanted to do, but he refused to allow the home to be destroyed.

So, dismantling the house piece by piece, he reluctantly moved the whole thing to Fort Mill, S.C.

“And then again, as only God could orchestrate things, after PTL fell and collapsed, I was able to stay in touch with the new owners, first-generation Christians from Malaysia,” Mel said. He implored them to please let him know if they ever wanted to sell the house.

It took about 25 years, but Mel got the phone call he had been waiting for.

kitchen of Billy Graham homestead
Inside the house, looking into the kitchen

“They called one day and said, sure enough, ‘If you want the house back, you can come get it.’ It was like deja vu all over again, taking it apart! Now, the second time around we used a contractor, whereas the first time I physically did it.”

There was just one issue: he didn’t have a place to put it. That is, until plans for the Billy Graham Library began to take shape. Mel couldn’t wait to talk to his cousin, Franklin Graham.

“I said, ‘Cuz, I know exactly where God intends this house to go.’”

As they say, “the rest is history.”

The Billy Graham Library opened in the spring of 2007, and it doesn’t just tell the story of Billy Graham; it tells the life-changing story of Jesus Christ.

Thousands of people have found peace with God while visiting the campus, which is designed to highlight Mr. Graham’s beginnings on a North Carolina dairy farm.

Today, guests from around the world can walk through the old, brick Colonial perfectly situated on the property, right where it belongs.

Learn more about becoming a Friend of the Library.

Billy Graham house

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  1. Norma & Jerry Begley says:

    GREAT background on how and why Mel Graham was involved in moving the farm house TWICE!! We have visited the library two years ago, and plan on doing so again. It was a VERY moving experience. We THANK GOD for giving us Billy Graham and his ministry.

  2. FAKAN, BOLAJI says:

    I am seriously blessed to read our Mel was to committed to preserving his grandmother’s home that God moved TWICE on his behalf. Goes to show that God is fully aware of each of His children – even to their whims and caprises!

  3. Julie Kpanmi says:

    Mel Graham, You Are Great! May the Lord continue to bless you. I’m a missionary in Kenya. I hope to visit the Library and see the house soon; by the grace of God.

  4. CYNTHIA JOHN says:

    Mr. Mel, I only wish I could see the place with my eyes. Reading your articles gives me the excitement…but I am too far away…Malaysia. Nevertheless, my prayer is with you and your team. God bless you abundantly.

  5. Linda Sharna says:

    How beautiful on the mountaintop are the feet of those who bring good news. A beautiful family story.

  6. Audrey says:

    That is a beautiful house and library, in a very beautiful setting. How I wish I could visit in person, but I am now too frail to travel. God bless you all.

  7. Michael A. Campagna says:

    My wife Berta and I visited the library and home three years ago and will never forget the inspiration if afforded us. We pray that we will be able to return again and again. We have relatives in nearby Mt. Holly. NC which will help our prayer to return come true.


    i only like to know more about word of God.AM IN KENYA

  9. Preston & Willa Lee jannsen says:

    We are planning a RV trip to the south in thr fall of 2014 and plan to visit the library, among the many other sites in the area. God willing, we will see you then. Peace and grace from SE Oregon

  10. Margareta Cronholm says:

    Thank you. Very interesting, putting all pieces together like a lego building. All thanks to Mel Graham, now many people can visit and find peace with God.