Evangelist Billy Graham's family home in Montreat up for sale

John Boyle
Asheville Citizen Times
Billy Graham and his family lived in this four-bedroom, two-bath Montreat home for nearly two decades. It is currently for sale.

MONTREAT – The first home world-famous evangelist Billy Graham owned in this small, secluded eastern Buncombe County town is now on the red-hot real estate market.

The four-bedroom, two-bath home, where Billy and Ruth Graham raised their five children for nearly two decades, is listed for sale at $599,000. The Grahams' daughter, Ruth Bell Graham, has put the 2,564-square-foot home on the market through Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.

A press release states Billy and Ruth Graham bought the home in the late 1940s.

"It was selected because it was right across the street from my grandparents,” Ruth Bell Graham, their daughter, said in the release. “I was born during the time my family lived in the house. The Los Angeles Crusades and (my father’s) tour of England happened during those years. It is where it all began.”

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Ruth Bell Graham answered follow-up questions through Premier Sotheby's public relations director, Elise Ramer. 

Ruth Graham said the family left the Mississippi Road house in 1957, moving to a larger home on a mountain in Montreat to gain privacy. She said it is a "very hard" decision to sell the house.

This photo montage shows world-famous evangelist Billy Graham and members of his family in their Mississippi Road home in Montreat. The house is currently for sale.

Ruth Graham said the sale is necessitated in part because of medical costs associated with her daughter’s illness, Lymphangioleiomyomatosis, a rare, progressive multisystem disorder.

Her siblings were made aware of Ruth Graham's decision to sell and asked if they wanted to buy the home, Graham said. She did not approach the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, founded by her father and now run by her brother, Franklin Graham, about a sale or financial assistance, Ruth Graham said.

Franklin Graham was in Alaska on a work trip for another nonprofit he heads, Samaritan's Purse, and was unavailable for comment, according Mark Barber, media relations manager with the BGEA. Barber noted that Ruth Graham is not an employee of BGEA or Samaritan's Purse.

"Neither Franklin nor the ministries can answer questions related to the sale of the home," Barber said via email. "This is a personal matter of her own choice. The home was previously used as a rental property before her decision to sell. The Graham siblings are close, and they love each other deeply and support each other."

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In recent years the home has been available as a vacation rental, "allowing guests to experience the Grahams' young family life through a collection of original furnishings, books, photos and mementos," the release notes. "With two levels of living, the comfortable and well-maintained home is within walking distance to Montreat Conference Center and close to several picturesque walking trails and streams."

The Rev. Billy Graham, who died at age 99 in February 2018, lived in the mountaintop home in Montreat until his death. Graham delivered his message of salvation through Jesus Christ to 215 million people in 185 countries, mostly over the latter half of the 20th century.

The living area of the former Graham family home in Montreat. The four-bedroom home in Montreat went on the real estate market July 6, 2020.

Billy Graham met Ruth Bell, the daughter of missionaries, at Wheaton College in Illinois. The couple married in Montreat, a religious retreat and conference center, and Ruth stayed home and raised their five children in Montreat while Billy Graham circled the globe to preach.

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Ruth Graham died in June 2007 at age 87, not long after the opening of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.

The five children — Virginia "Gigi" Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Ruth Bell Graham, Franklin Graham and Nelson Edman "Ned" Graham — all have had involvement in Christian service, according to Samaritan's Purse.

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Gigi Graham lives in Black Mountain, Anne Graham in Raleigh, Ruth Graham in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, and Franklin Graham near Boone. Ned Graham is based in Washington State and works frequently in China through East Gates Ministries International, where he serves as president.

Located at 198 Mississippi Road in Montreat, the Grahams' former home is owned by The Original Place LLC, of which Ruth Bell Graham is listed as president. Through Premier Sotheby's, Ruth Graham said she is the sole owner of the Montreat home.

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“This cozy cottage presents a unique opportunity to own a piece of history," Brian Etheridge, Premier Sotheby’s listing agent for the home, said in the release. "Showcasing the legacy of Billy Graham, it maintains a historic charm while offering modern comforts.”

Built in 1900, the home is on a 0.33-acre lot and has a tax value of $246,300, according to Buncombe County land records. 

To view the listing, visit: www.premiersothebysrealty.com/single-family/clm/car3757715/198-mississippi-road-montreat-nc-28757.

For a video tour of the property, visit: https://player.vimeo.com/video/561956300