Carolyn Gardner sits at the dining room table of her family’s 19th century farmhouse, a stately yet incongruous structure that hold courts at the busy intersection of Washington Road and Furys Ferry. The hustle and bustle of Augusta, once miles away, now surrounds her enclave. Traffic noise steals in through the windows, but it doesn’t bother Gardner. At 90 years of age, Gardner has a razor sharp memory but doesn’t hear as well as she used to. Her 1980s push button telephones ring louder than a firehouse bell. “Don’t get that,” she tells her guests when they jangle, because she will not be distracted from a good story.
Gardner opens a faded three-ringer binder and there, in perfect script, are every one of her listings and sales for the nearly 40 years she sold real estate for Blanchard and Calhoun. Her first listing in 1973, a small appliance repair shop on Battle Row. The house on Bethel Place she sold for Dr. Corbett Thigpen, the internationally renowned psychiatrist who co-authored the The Three Faces of Eve. The two houses on Central Avenue she subsequently sold to Dr. Thigpen’s father. Page after page of entries, a sales volume so substantial it gained Gardner a charter membership in the Augusta Board of Realtors Masters Club, sales executives who sold in excess of one million dollars in real estate for 10 consecutive years.
She pauses at an entry in the binder and looks up. “Do you know Daniel Boone?” The American pioneer in the coonskin hat comes to mind, but she quickly dispels that notion. In 1990, Gardner was working with Dr. Daniel Boone, an Augusta internist, on a new home purchase in Conifer. Gardner assured Boone and his wife that the young couple interested in buying their existing home in the Watervale subdivision would have no trouble with financing and both closings would occur without a glitch. Days before the closing, Gardner learned that the young couple’s financing was not approved. Both sales – and both dreams of a new life in a new home – were in jeopardy. While most realtors would let the chips fall where they may, Gardner did something truly extraordinary. She personally financed the home for the young buyers so that they, and the Boones, could proceed with their plans. Every month for five years, the couple hand delivered their mortgage payment to Gardner’s farmhouse. She makes light of any praise. “It was the right thing to do,” she says. “Maybe not the smartest thing – but the right thing.” Above and beyond service. The Blanchard and Calhoun way since 1919.