Renovation Project of the Week: An 1885 House That’s Being Overrun by Its Own Landscaping

It’s often hard to know exactly what you’re seeing just from the for-sale listings of houses that need renovation. From the foundation to the roof, there’s no telling what trouble awaits until you get a thorough inspection. With that in mind, take a look at 3311 Oak Ridge Road in Summerfield.

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Yikes. Nothing subtle about Issue No. 1. Aside from the nightmarish vegetation, though, this stately old place doesn’t look so bad. It was built in 1885 and has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,148 square feet. The lot is 1.2 acres. The few rooms shown in the poor photos with the listing do suggest the house could use some work, though who knows what the rest of it looks like. It’s on the west side of Summerfield toward Oak Ridge.

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At $165,000, the price comes out to $77 per square foot, which is toward the high end of the scale for a house that needs substantial renovation unless the electrical, plumbing, foundation, etc., are OK and you’re looking for a house to make your own in one of Guilford County’s more upscale little towns.

Listing for 3311 Oak Ridge Road

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The Oldest Inhabited House in Greensboro (Probably) Was for Sale for a Few Days This Month

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The Paisley House, 409 Hillcrest Drive in Westerwood, may be oldest house in Greensboro that’s still a residence.  It was listed for sale on October 4; the sellers accepted an offer on October 8. A quick deal like that isn’t uncommon in Westerwood, one of Greensboro’s most attractive neighborhoods, especially now when so few homes are for sale there. What is uncommon is that the house is so much older than the neighborhood. The Paisley House was built in 1820; Westerwood was developed about 100 years later.

The oldest-house claim is hard to prove, maybe impossible, but no one has suggested a reasonable alternative (as Benjamin Briggs explains here).  It was built downtown (the address is unknown). The house was moved to Westerwood, possibly around 1931, the first year the Greensboro City Directory shows a residence at 409 Hillcrest. This undated photo from Preservation Greensboro appears to have been taken while the house was still downtown:

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Today, the house is elegantly updated with 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms and 3,418 square feet. The price is $415,000, a relatively modest $121 per square foot. It has a finished basement and a detached two-car garage with a 12-by-24 room above it. There’s a porch off to the right side of the front. The back of the house has a deck along with a spacious yard (the lot is 0.34 acre).

Hillcrest is a quiet, out-of-the-way street toward the western end of the neighborhood. Oldest in town or not, the Paisley House is beautifully preserved and in a lovely setting, one of Westerwood’s real treasures.

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Listing for 409 Hillcrest Drive

Adamsleigh: Demolition Appears Likely for A Great North Carolina Mansion ‘Not Fit for Today’s Lifestyle’

Reblogged from Piedmont Historic Homes
Photo from wunderground.com

Residents of Sedgefield report seeing crews from a demolition company at work in Adamsleigh, the renowned 30,000 square foot mansion in the golf course community. An article this week in the News & Record indicates that time may have run out for the fabulous house. Built in 1930, it stands with Graylyn in Winston-Salem and Hillside in Greensboro as one of the Piedmont’s grandest mansions. But its new owner wants to build a house, and Adamsleigh is in his way.

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Jason Harris: “It’s not fit for today’s lifestyle.”

The new owner is Jason Harris, a member of the family that owns FurnitureLand South. The News & Record and others have tried to reach him to find out his plans, but he hasn’t been returning calls lately. It’s easy to see why.  The home’s 13-acre lot would seem to provide plenty of room for a new house without tearing down a landmark. Adamsleigh is an irreplaceable piece of history for Sedgefield, for Greensboro and for the state. People who are doing great things usually want to talk about them.

Adamsleigh was built by High Point textile executive John Hampton Adams, one of the founders of Adams-Millis. It had been owned by his descendants since he died in 1935. Harris bought the property for $2.4 million in November 2018. The asking price was $3.895 million. It had been on the market for years.

“It’s not a home that I would want to live in,” Harris is quoted as saying in the News & Record. “It’s not fit for today’s lifestyle.”

Harris has a couple arguments for reducing the historic home to rubble, documented from earlier conversations. One is, basically, that the house was for sale for years and no one bought it so why not tear it down? Also, renovating it would be a monumental and expensive undertaking. It has no air conditioning, there’s asbestos in it, and it’s 30,000 square feet. And, of course, there’s “today’s lifestyle.” Such challenges have been overcome in the restoration of many historic homes, but almost anything can seem impossible to a man who doesn’t want to do it.

map showing lots in Sedgefield, with Adamsleigh on an unusually large one
Click for a larger image

All of this begs the question of why Harris bought Adamsleigh. His brother lives next door, but I wonder if it has more to do with the small fortune Harris could gain from redeveloping 13 acres in the heart of Sedgefield. Adamsleigh has the Sedgefield golf course behind it and across the street. It’s one of the oldest and most prestigious golf course communities in the state.

The bigger the houses are and the more space there is between them, the less there is of a feeling of community. The more people lecture about “private property rights,” the less you hear about responsibility. The more money talks, the poorer the community is, even one as rich as Sedgefield.

Video by Jonathan Corbett

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Photo from Fox8
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Photo from TriadMLS

Click here for more Adamsleigh photos

The Adamsleigh Designer Showhouse

In 2013, the Junior League of Greensboro and Traditional Home magazine staged a designer showhouse. “Adamsleigh—a splendid Tudor-style manor house built in 1930 on grounds replete with tennis courts, a caretaker’s cottage, a pond, and two pools—set the style bar high; it challenged a mix of local, regional, and national designers to stretch, to dream big,” the magazine said. The event showed what people with vision and talented designers could do with the home. Traditional Home photos by John Bessler and Peter Rymwid.

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810 Cypress Street: A Newly Renovated 1920 Dunleath Classic, $319,000

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There’s been a conspicuous shortage of homes for sale in the Dunleath Historic District lately, so 810 Cypress Street is a rare find. It was sold 10 months ago and thoroughly renovated. When it was sold, it looked like this:

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810 Cypress received a dose of good taste inside as well. It has four bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms and 2,398 square feet ($133/square foot). It’s across the street from Swann Middle School. The house was built in 1920, pretty much the heyday of Dunleath. Its big front porch makes it an ideal venue for Dunleath’s signature event, the annual Porchfest.

If you’re interested, don’t dawdle. The last couple well restored houses in Dunleath have sold quickly — one in three weeks and one in four days (that was the house next door, the gorgeous 808 Cypress Street).

Listing for 810 Cypress Street

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Two Classic Greensboro Houses and Their Spacious Lots May Be Too Much for Developers to Resist

Two interesting old houses turned up for sale in the past couple of weeks with a disappointing element in common: Both owners appear more interested in selling to developers than to homeowners. Each of the properties has a bit of acreage, and both are in areas that have been developed with subdivisions in the past few decades. Losing them would eliminate pieces of Greensboro’s historic character from once-outlying neighborhoods where little of that quality remains.

4201 Pineneedle Drive

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4201 Pineneedle Drive was built in 1903 in what is now the Summit Hills neighborhood between Summit Avenue and U.S. 29 in northeast Greensboro. It’s an attractive little farmhouse with two bedrooms, one bathroom and 1,416 square feet. The listing provides no pictures of the interior and only one of the exterior. One of the few significant details provided: It has no heating or air conditioning systems.

The house sits on 3.76 acres. The price is $169,900, which comes to $120 per square foot or a little over $45,000 per acre. I don’t know how that compares to prevailing land prices in northeast Greensboro (tax appraisal on the land is $63,000 total, for what that’s worth), but $120 per square foot sounds high for a house in that area with no HVAC.

The description of the property focuses on the land: “Beautiful and serene land located on the edge of the city. House is sold AS IS and will not qualify for FHA/VA loans. Would be a great property to develop.” Beautiful and serene now, at least. The 3.76-acre lot may make 4201 Pineneedle an attractive development prospect in an area that looks like this (the property is highlighted; click for a larger view):

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The lot is in the middle of what was a 17-acre tract owned by William Archie Smith, who died in 1949. He passed it on to his eldest son, John, who left it to his six surviving siblings in 1982. They divided it into 18 lots. One of John’s sisters, Nora Mae Smith Maness, bought four of the lots for $5,500 in 1982 (numbers 1, 1A, 16 and 16A on the plat). That property is now 4201 Pineneedle Drive. Family members still own 10 of the other 14 lots.

Nora Mae died in 2010 at the age of 88 (having long outlived her two husbands by 63 and 39 years, respectively). Now the property is being sold by her estate. Her son, who may not have much of a sentimental attachment to the old homestead, owns a house right across the street. Beyond the lack of HVAC, who knows what the condition of the house is. All you can say for sure is that it’s endangered.

5204 Michaux Road

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5204 Michaux Road is far across Greensboro, near the corner of Battleground Avenue and Old Battleground Road. The house sits nicely off the street on 2.34 acres (per county property records). It was built in 1925. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,346 square feet. The exterior is attractive, with a stone foundation, distinctly different from the subdivision houses around it. The price is $175,000, $130 per square foot.

Again, the only photo with the listing is an exterior shot. The narrative description, provided here in full, doesn’t give a buyer much to go on: “This property is sold AS IS.” It does have heat and air conditioning, though.

The property was listed Thursday, September 5, and the owner accepted an offer over the weekend.

It’s in a more densely developed area than Summit Hills. The house is surrounded on three sides by subdivisions, although the two-acre-plus lot provides good privacy. A large assisted-living facility is right across the street (nicely screened with landscaping). The adjacent shopping center includes a Harris Teeter, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and more.

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The lot for 5204 Michaux was the back corner of the James Davis farm, which was seven miles north of Greensboro when it was subdivided in 1925. The plat for the 39-acre farm shows an asphalt highway running along the east side; presumably, that’s now Battleground Avenue. The shopping center, assisted-living home and much of the neighboring subdivision were all part of the farm (5204 Michaux is Lot 25). The Davis homestead is long gone; it stood on five acres at the corner of Battleground and Old Battleground. 5204 Michaux appears to be the last trace of the past in the area.

616 East Lake Drive: A Spectacular Mid-Century Modern in Westerwood, $725,000

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The for-sale sign went up at 616 East Lake Drive last Wednesday. The sellers accepted an offer by Saturday, and all I could think was, “What took so long?” Even at a relatively high price (for Westerwood) of $725,000, it’s no surprise the house went off the market so quickly. It’s one of the most impressive mid-century houses in Greensboro.

The Mary and Norman Jarrard House was built in 1969. It was designed by Jarrard himself, a professor of English at N.C. A&T. It has five bedrooms and four bathrooms spread across three levels (I think — the listings and property records show it as one level for some reason; it’s been a few years since I was in it, but I recall three) and 3,874 square feet ($187/square foot). It sits atop a relatively steep slope high above the street and the Lake Daniel Greenway, well hidden by trees. The challenging, wooded lot made it a much better candidate for a mid-century design, which emphasized blending in with the surroundings, than a traditional approach.

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The landscaping is impressive, particularly around the swimming pool (saline, heated). There’s a koi pond as well.

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Large windows and sliding glass doors open up the house to the outdoors. Earth tones throughout the house complement the setting. Skylights add even more light. On the top level, an open floor plan brings the living room, dining room and den together without sacrificing the intimacy of the various rooms.

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Additional decks, including one on a lower level, provide additional outdoor space.

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The driveway comes up from East Lake Drive, but you can also reach the house through an alley from the corner of Lakeview Street and Crestland Avenue.

Listing for 616 East Lake Drive

2019 List of Endangered Historic Properties Includes ‘Greensboro’s Grandest House’

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Adamsleigh, one of North Carolina’s most remarkable homes, now has an owner who may choose to tear it down.

Every year, Preservation Greensboro creates a “Watch List” of local historic homes and buildings that are in danger of being destroyed. Some are saved, like the remarkable Shaw House at 111 Arden Place, rescued last year by new owners who are renovating the one-time hunting lodge in the College Park neighborhood. Others aren’t, like the Art Deco Showfety Building, which was sacrificed for construction of a parking deck.

This year’s list includes several iconic homes along with the Pilot Life office complex in Sedgefield, the Southern Railway Passenger Depot on South Elm Street, and one of the few Egyptian Revival office buildings in the state.

The most notable property on the list may be Adamsleigh, the colossal 15,000 square foot mansion in Sedgefield. It was bought last year by Jason Harris, an owner of Furnitureland South. “Rumors swirl on whether the new owner will focus on a preservation strategy for the property or destruction of the manor,” Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro writes.

Here are some of the other historic homes on the list:

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East Greensboro’s rich collection of Mid-Century Modern homes: “Though still remarkably intact, these resources are fragile and endangered because their importance is not widely known and celebrated in Greensboro.” Preservation Greensboro and the City of Greensboro are working on that.

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The three structures on the Southside Triangle Block: “As the neighborhood surrounding these important buildings has been redeveloped, lack of investment in the structures has resulted in severe deterioration.”

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Nelson Station, 903 Bluford Street, an important early example of N.C. A&T faculty housing and one of the oldest African American historic sites in Greensboro: “As neighborhood land values continue to decline, A&T is taking the opportunity to expand its campus north across the street. The current campus master plan calls for the streetscape to be destroyed and replaced with green space.”

The entire list is worth reading: Preservation Greensboro’s 2019 Watch List

631 Scott Avenue: A 1905 Lindley Park House Featured on This Year’s Tour of Historic Homes, $369,900

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Photo courtesy of Preservation Greensboro

The Lydia and James Cartland House is one of the earliest in Lindley Park. Built in 1905 across the street from its present location, the house crossed the street sometime in its first 20 years. Today, it’s nicely restored and a beautiful example of its time period and its neighborhood.

The Cartland House has four bedrooms and two baths. It’s unusually large for Lindley Park, 3,142 square feet. The price, too, is outsized for the neighborhood at $369,900; by my count, only five pre-WWII Lindley Park houses have sold in the $300,000’s in the past two and a half years, out of 43 total. But the price works out to a modest $117 per square foot, way at the low end of the range for the neighborhood. The lot also is larger than average, 0.36 acre.

“The two-story frame house is typical of Greensboro residences of the first decade of the twentieth century,” Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro writes. “Simply detailed, the Late Victorian form is characterized by a hipped roofline and a projecting hipped wing. This wing, with exterior access, might have served as an office. Decorative features are staid, including a deep cornice with boxed eaves, nine over nine windows, and a half-width front porch. Interior details curiously hint at an early construction date, such as capped door and window trim, a square stair newel post, and six-panel doors.”

Scott Avenue is a quiet side street, but the house is just a couple blocks from the Walker and Elam intersection, home of Bestway grocery and various restaurants, bars and other contributors to Greensboro’s quality of life.

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207 North Park Drive: The Real Estate Crash of 2008 Still Echoes, Even in the Best Neighborhoods

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207 North Park Drive is a Fisher Park classic, a Craftsman bungalow with beautiful stone columns. Built in 1912, it overlooks the park on one of the neighborhood’s finest streets. It sold last week for $398,900, its full asking price and a pretty impressive number considering it’s not quite 2,000 square feet. That comes out to $206 per square foot, up near the top of the range for the neighborhood and way above what many Fisher Park houses have sold for recently. The house was on the market just over a week before an offer was accepted.

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Even at that price, though, the seller took a loss. They bought the house for $399,750, and that was 12 long years ago. It’s not a big loss, less than $1,000 (but don’t forget the real estate agents’ commission, likely 6 percent — almost $24,000). Still, how could such a fine house in Fisher Park fail to appreciate in 12 years? The answer: The house was bought in September 2007, only a year before real estate crashed. The pre-catastrophe market was just about at its peak.

But that was so long ago, right? Hasn’t the market recovered? Overall, yes. “Prices across the U.S., which fell 33 percent during the recession, have rebounded and are now up more than 50 percent since hitting the bottom, according to CoreLogic, a global property analytics site.” (The Washington Post, October 4, 2018) That brings average prices back up around their 2008 levels or higher.

For any particular house, timing has much to do with the profitability of a sale. Homes bought 10 years before the crash had 10 years of appreciation before the bottom fell out.  If they’re back to their pre-recession value, their owners can sell now and come out reasonably well. But houses bought just before the crash, even a couple years before, may have needed all this time just to get back to their previous sale price. Even in a neighborhood as popular as Fisher Park.

207 North Park had made it just about all the way back when it sold last week. Considering how quickly it sold, perhaps the seller could have hung a higher price on the place and at least have broken even. At the listed price, though, it was already near the top of the current market in Fisher Park. Sometimes when you’re selling a house, it’s more important just to get it sold than to hold out for the maximum possible price. Every additional mortgage payment takes a bite out of your profit margin.

For what it’s worth, 207 North Park isn’t the only historic home in the Triad to be caught lately in the lingering effects of the crash.

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2560 Warwick Road, Winston-Salem, built in 1948

  • Sold for $1.13 million on June 14, 2019
  • Last previous sale: $1.37 million, June 2005
  • Loss: $240,000, 18 percent
  • Neighborhood: Buena Vista

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301 Edgedale Drive, High Point, built in 1921

  • Sold for $493,000 on April 29, 2019
  • Last previous sale: $600,000, February 2006
  • Loss: $107,000, 18 percent
  • Neighborhood: Emerywood

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813 S. Church Street, Winston-Salem, built in 1824
The Philip Reich House

  • Sold for $345,000 on April 24, 2019
  • Last previous sale: $435,000, July 2008
  • Loss: $90,000, 21 percent
  • Neighborhood: Old Salem

The 1925 Harry Barton House in Hamilton Lakes, $1.65 million

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Few architects have been as historically prominent in Greensboro and across the state as Harry Barton. For more than 20 years until his death in 1937, he designed several of the Greensboro’s most notable buildings, including the UNCG Auditorium, the Quad and others on the campus; the Guilford County Courthouse; the Cone Export and Commission Building; First Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant; and World War Memorial Stadium. His home designs ranged from the elaborate Italian Renaissance style of the Sigmund Sternberger house at 710 Summit Avenue to the relatively simple Effie M. Anderson House at 303 S. Mendenhall Street.

When he designed his own home, he created a classic. 104 Kemp Road West is a Mediterranean mansion sitting on Benjamin Lake in Hamilton Lakes. Barton had it built in 1925. For the first time since 1976, the home is for sale. The listing price is $1.65 million.

It’s a spectacular house, 4,000 square feet of impeccable design and high craftsmanship. It has four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. The roof is Italian tile. The lot is 0.65 acre. Overlooking the lake is a separate gym with a steam shower and hot tub. The price comes out to $410 per square foot. On a square-foot basis it’s probably the most expensive historic home now available in Greensboro and one of the most expensive in the Triad. Why not?

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Listing for 104 Kemp Road West

More about the Harry Barton House

Harry Barton on North Carolina Architects & Builders, A Biographical Dictionary

305 S. Mendenhall Street: A 1918 College Hill Classic, $324,900

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There are few houses for sale in Greensboro’s three historic districts this winter. College Hill, Dunleath and Fisher Park have a total of just six houses for sale right now (three others under contract). Still, some of those homes are among the finest historic homes in the city. One of the highlights is 305 S. Mendenhall Street in College Hill, the Stokes-Dees House.

The house is in move-in condition. The current owner bought it in 1978, restored it beautifully and has lived there ever since. Built in 1918, it has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,470 square feet. That puts the price at $132 per square foot; recent sales of renovated homes on S. Mendenhall Street have ranged up to $145. The house has period details throughout, including pocket doors and unpainted woodwork. A spacious deck and brick patio have been added in the back.

305 S. Mendenhall also has a marginal celebrity connection. From 1933-53, it was owned by prominent local physician Dr. Rigdon O. Dees. A few years before he sold it, his namesake grandchild, Rigdon O. Dees III, was born.  Greensboro radio listeners in the early 70’s knew Rick Dees as a disc jockey before he blew town on his way to lasting trivia-level fame for his No. 1 1976 record “Disco Duck.”

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Classic Homes Are Selling at a Premium Again This Year, Especially in Lindley Park and Fisher Park

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609 Magnolia Street in Fisher Park: Sale price, $350,000; asking price, $339,900; for sale, 4 days.

There aren’t enough older homes for sale in Lindley Park and Fisher Park to go around. Since March 1, at least 20 classic homes in Greensboro have sold at a premium to their asking prices. Five have been in Lindley Park and three have been in Fisher Park. The other 12 have been scattered around town.

Houses in both neighborhoods have been selling fast. A total of nine pre-1940 Lindley Park houses have sold since March 1; six were on the market a week or less when their owners accepted offers. In Fisher Park, an amazing 13 classic houses have sold. Four owners accepted offers within a week and four more, within a month.

The pace is holding up, too, in Fisher Park, at least. There are seven pending sales in Fisher Park right now; three of the offers were accepted within a week of listing and two more were accepted within a month. The Lindley Park market is all but exhausted at the moment. Only one house has a pending sale; its owner accepted an offer the day it went up for sale. There are only two other older homes for sale in the neighborhood — one that’s been on the market for two weeks and a single-family home divided into two apartments, which has been on the market for six weeks. Demand has been slow for that type of property.

In many cases, of course, the premium is just a token amount. But anytime you get more than you’re asking, you’re doing awfully well. Among the other classic houses that have sold at prices above their asking prices:

  • The College Hill and Dunleith historic districts have had one each. As in Fisher Park, the supply of houses for sale has been up compared to 2017, and many sales have come quickly, especially among the more expensive properties.
  • Two have been classic Mid-Century Modern homes, one in Hamilton Lakes for $444,000 (plus-$5,000) and one in O.Henry Oaks for $95,000 (plus-$5,100).
  • There has been one house in Guilford County outside Greensboro that sold at a premium, a restored 1902 farmhouse in Whitsett that went for an absurdly low $262,000 in a foreclosure sale (previous sale: $425,000). The asking price had been $259,900.
  • Absent from the list of neighborhoods with classic houses selling at a premium: Irving Park and Sedgefield. Especially for the most expensive older homes in those highest-of-high-end neighborhoods, demand just isn’t there.

Overall, it’s a pattern much like what we saw last year: Strong demand for classic homes, even though the number of homes for sale in many older neighborhoods has been higher in 2018.

Some of the highlights among houses that have sold at a premium recently:

317 E. Hendrix Street, Fisher Park

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  • Sale price: $228,000
  • Asking price: $199,900
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 6

105 W. Hendrix Street, Fisher Park

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  • Sale price: $190,000
  • Asking price: $185,000
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 5
  • Note: What is it about Hendrix Street?

128 Northridge Street, Lindley Park

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  • Sale price: $155,000
  • Asking price: $152,000
  • Days for sale before accepting offer: 1
  • Note: And then right next door, there’s …

130 Northridge Street, Lindley Park

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  • Sale price: $186,000
  • Asking price: $185,000
  • Days for sale before accepting offer: 5
  • Note: If you want to live on Northridge Street, get in line.

615 Percy Street, Dunleith

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  • Sale Price: $249,000
  • Asking Price: $247,000
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 2
  • Note: Built in 1906

1504 Northfield Street, Westerwood

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  • Sale price: $280,000
  • Asking price: $270,000
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 3
  • Note: For sale by owner

605 Kemp Road West, Hamilton Lakes

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  • Sale price: $444,000
  • Asking price: $439,000
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 3
  • Note: It’s not for everyone, but Mid-Century Modern has an enduring appeal. And there aren’t that many of them in Greensboro and Guilford County.

1611 Longfellow, O.Henry Oaks

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  • Sale price: $95,000
  • Asking price: $89,900
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 7
  • Note: Mid-Century Modern wasn’t just for the ritzy neighborhoods.

1502 Upland Street, Cone Mill

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  • Sale price: $90,500
  • Asking price: $85,000
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 2
  • Note: Built and originally owned by Cone Mills

7204 Whitsett Park Road, Whitsett

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  • Sale price: $262,000
  • Asking price: $259,900
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 18
  • Note: Built in 1902. This could be the bargain of the year — it sold for $425,000 in 2010. But this time it was a foreclosure sale.

107 S. Mendenhall Street, College Hill

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  • Sale price: $370,000
  • Asking price: $369,900
  • Days for sale before accepting an offer: 19
  • Note: For sale by owner. OK, it’s only $100, but a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks.

Classic House of the Week: 1820 Madison Avenue, a Timeless Gem in Sunset Hills, $475,000

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Update: The house was sold for $420,000 on September 12, 2018.

There are grand, beautiful houses that have been sold three or four times in the past 20 years. This kind of turnover typically says nothing about the house; we just live in a restless time. That’s especially true for the upwardly mobile types who can afford to pay, say, $400,000, $500,000 or more for a house. People who are in a position to make big money tend to go where it leads them.

And then there are houses like 1820 Madison Avenue. It went up for sale this week for the first time in 43 years. It’s easy to see why the owner has lived there so long. Sunset Hills is one of Greensboro’s most attractive neighborhoods, and this house is a fine example of why. Built in 1925, there’s nothing gaudy or breathtaking about it. It’s elegantly, timelessly straightforward.

The house is a spacious but not exorbitant 2,700 square feet; at $475,000, the price comes to $176 per square foot. That’s toward the upper end of the range for Sunset Hills, and why not? Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, beautifully landscaped. Lots of natural light from a sunroom and a screened porch. The closest thing to a flaw is the kitchen cabinets, which look a bit dated, ’80s-ish, perhaps. The location is a block north of West Market Street at Madison and North Tremont.

In the past year and a half, there have been at least six Sunset Hills homes that have been sold for the first time in 35 years or more. One had last been sold in 1946. If you can afford to get into the neighborhood, it can be a hard place to leave.

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Want an Old House, To Go? A 1929 Cedar Street Foursquare Needs to be Moved, or It Will Be Torn Down

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429 S. Cedar Street: Take it away, and it’s yours.

Update: No one stepped up to take the house, so it was torn down.

From Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro:

The foursquare house at 429 North Cedar Street is available to someone who might want to move it. The structure has been relocated once before. It sits on a cinderblock foundation. Many original architectural features have been lost, but they can be re-created or re-imagined.

This would be a perfect opportunity for someone with an empty lot planning to build a new home or perhaps someone looking for an investment property. The house must be moved, and no supplementary grants have been identified to assist on relocation expenses or permits. Interested parties should be prepared to gather quotes/estimates to suit their budget and present a timeline by August 1 that includes removal of the house by September 1, 2018. Interested parties should contact Preservation Greensboro staff via email.

County property records show the house having four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It’s 2,347 square feet and was built in 1929. The tax appraisal of the house alone (without the land or outbuilding) is $68,900.

Classic House of the Week: 906 Olive Street and the Auction That Just Won’t End

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Update: The final upset bid of $252,000 was filed July 17; I think it was the 10th, but I could have missed one or two. The sale closed on July 28, 2018.

906 Olive Street is a nice little Fisher Park house. Built in 1938, it has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,938 square feet. It has a smallish front porch, gray shingle siding and a couple trees in the front yard. It’s a little on the modest side for Fisher Park. There have been a few more or less similar houses for sale in the neighborhood recently. It’s in foreclosure, also like a few others recently. Nice but not especially remarkable.

Except: It went up for auction on June 6, and, three weeks later, the auction is still going on. A bid was accepted on the 6th, and that’s usually how these things end (if anyone bothers to bid at all). Under North Carolina law, though, for the next 10 days, anyone with enough money can come along and make an upset bid at least five percent above the previous bid. So far, six upset bids have been filed. Each bid resets the 10-day clock. The latest bid was on June 22, so this thing will drag on into July (weekend days do count in the 10 days, but if the 10th day falls on a weekend or holiday, the upset period is extended to the next business day).

It’s easy to see why the bidders are scrambling. 908 Olive was last sold in 2006 for  $276,500. The would-be winning bid on June 6 was only $142,802, a terrific bargain for a nice little house in Fisher Park. A bargain too good to be true, as it turned out. The first upset bid was $150,000. The latest, by the original high bidder, is $191,467.50 ($99/square foot), still a very good price but not quite the steal it might have been.

If you’d like to take a shot at this one yourself, your bid will have to be at least $201,040.88, according to the court file. Roll on down to the Clerk of Court’s office (before anyone else does) with a certified check for five percent of your bid, and you’re in the game.  If you’re successful, though, be ready to pay the other 95 percent within 30 days. The court doesn’t wait around for mortgage applications to be approved.

Historic House of the Week: A 1790 Federal-Style Mansion in Caswell County on the National Register

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The Moore-Gwyn-Ewalt House and its 200 acres are now listed for sale at $1.75 million.

The counties surrounding Guilford have seen plenty of history, Caswell in particular. In the early decades of the nation’s history, Caswell was one of the state’s most prosperous and prominent counties, but, long beyond living memory, its fortunes crashed. Now, about all that’s left of its glory years are some truly impressive houses, scattered here and there from Camp Springs and Cherry Grove up to Milton and Semora.

national-register-plaque transparent.fw.pngThe Moore-Gwyn-Ewalt House in the Locust Hill area is a beautiful example of Caswell’s past — 6,226 square feet of Federal-style elegance on 200 unspoiled acres. The house was built in 1790; considerable square footage is in the form of two well-designed wings built in 1995. It was listed June 1 at $1.75 million. The address is 5869 U.S. Highway 158. Situated southwest of Yanceyville and close to N.C. 150, it’s within a relatively easy commute to Greensboro.

“The severe exterior appearance of the Moore House contrasts with the rich Federal motifs which appear throughout the interior,” the National Register nomination states. “The treatment of the raised basement of the Moore House as a visually integral feature of the structure by means of matching exterior architectural detail is atypical of Caswell County and is one of the major factors in the imposing appearance of the house. The Moore House is one of the best preserved and most handsome houses of the Federal era in the northern Piedmont of North Carolina.”

The house sits well back from the road. It has four bedrooms and three full and two half bathrooms. There are nine fireplaces, eight wood-burning and one with gas logs. The beautiful moldings and mantels are well displayed in the listing’s photos, several of which are below. The property includes formal boxwood gardens, a fenced garden, a pool and a pond. Near the house, a screened-in summer house stands between the two fireplaces of the original detached kitchen, which burned in 1942. An early 19th-century saddlebag cabin, originally slave quarters, serves as a guesthouse. The 1995 additions by the current owners were built with the approval of Preservation North Carolina, which holds a preservation easement on the house.

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Annie

The property was listed to the National Register in 1973 through the efforts of then-owner Miss Annie Yancey Gwynn. According to the nomination, tobacco planter Samuel Moore bought the land in 1785, and the house is believed to have been built around 1790. Moore at one time owned at least 1,000 acres in the area. Although the real-estate listing notes the local lore of the house possibly having been designed by Thomas Jefferson, the National Register nomination doesn’t mention him (spoil-sport historians).

In the 1850s, the property was owned by George Swepson, son-in-law of Bartlett Yancey, one of the grand figures in Caswell’s history. (Swepson later became a Reconstruction-era bigshot and namesake of Swepsonville in Alamance County, where he built a textile mill. Sadly, he came to ruin in a railroad-bond scandal.)

Rufus Stamps bought the property from Swepson in 1858, and it remained in his family until 1942, when Annie bought it. The house hadn’t been lived in for 25 years and was being used as a barn. She restored it and got it onto the National Register. She lived there for many years; she died in 1985 at age 94, God bless her.

Annie was born in Caswell County in 1891 and attended Greensboro Female College, now Greensboro College (her last name is sometimes reported as “Gwyn”; although her middle name was Yancey, I couldn’t find any genealogical connection between her and Bartlett Yancey). She worked as a school teacher and then trained as a nurse. Annie served as an Army nurse in France during World War I and later worked as a nurse in Washington.

“On a visit to Caswell County in 1942 she bought a 179-year-old house that had been her ‘dream house’ since early childhood,” according to The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, edited by Jeannine D. Whitlow. “The house was then almost in ruins. Much work was needed to restore the old Moore-Gwyn House.

“Upon retirement from nursing, Annie Yancey Gwyn came back to her native Caswell County and her ‘dream house’ and with vigor and vitality she started the task of creating a home out of the ancient ‘crone’ of a house. With some hired help she attacked the jungle of weeds and honeysuckles, mountains of junk, and started restoring the three story old brick house and the tenant houses. After many years of hard work and tender loving care she made a monument of beauty and memories from a scrap pile.”

North Carolina Estates listing
National Register nomination

Special thanks to caswellcountync.org and Harry Branch of North Carolina Estates.

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The Moore House around 1973

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The summer house stands where the original kitchen was. The detached kitchen burned, leaving only the two fireplaces.

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The guesthouse is an 18th-century saddlebag cabin that served as slave quarters.

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For Edgewood, today is the day, finally

Update: For all the anxiety the sale of Edgewood created, in the end it went smoothly and  quickly. The property sold for $785,000 on July 11, 2018. The buyers are a family who plan to restore the property.

Historic Edgewood was put up for sale today at $850,000. The listing refers to it as a bargain, and it is, although, ironically, the $770,000 BB&T paid for it in a foreclosure auction was no bargain at all.

The listing is here.

Edgewood: Any day now

Edgewood 20180516_153034.jpgBB&T is readying Edgewood for sale. Crews have been trimming shrubs and undergrowth from the property this week, and some trees have been taken down or trimmed. And now a real estate agent’s sign has appeared at the curb of 111 Arden Place.

The stone mansion and 2.5-acre site in Sunset Hills date back to 1915. BB&T, apparently one of multiple lenders with money in the property, bought Edgewood in a foreclosure auction in January. The bank spent $770,000 to get it. Anyone who wants to save it is probably going to have to outbid developers who would tear the house down and squeeze in as many big, expensive new houses as they can. And in one of Greensboro’s most popular neighborhoods, no less. Once “For Sale” replaces “Coming Soon,” the outcome may not be far off.

Classic House of the Week: A Fine Example of 1920s Westerwood Elegance, $339,500

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Update: The house was listed for 30 days and then withdrawn. The owners now have put it up for rent again.

Westerwood is showcase for the qualities of early 20th-century homes. The neighborhood got started in the 1890s but didn’t take off until the 1920s. Its winding, tree-lined streets are a populated with a variety of beautifully designed Craftsman bungalows, Tudor Revival cottages and Colonial Revivals with the occasional mansion (Double Oaks) and now even a remarkable Mid-Century Modern home mixed in.

401 North Mendenhall Street is an excellent example of the neighborhood’s style. It came onto the market a week ago at $339,500. Built in 1926, it features an elegant, curved gable roof with a distinctive pair of dormers connected by two similar-sized windows. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, 2,337 square feet. That comes out to an optimistic $145 per square foot, toward the high end of the range of recent Westerwood home sales. It’s a finer home and in better shape than many that have been for sale recently, though, and it is priced lower than the $160/square foot being asked for a house across the street, which has been on the market for nine months.

The house appears to be in move-in condition (though the photos with the listing are surprisingly poor). The first floor has been opened up to create a large living room. It has updated bathrooms and an updated but almost rustic-styled kitchen. Well-placed trees at the corners of the front yard give the home some privacy from traffic on Mendenhall.

Surprisingly, the house isn’t owner-occupied. The owners appear to have lit out for the pleasures of golf-course living in a McMansion at Stoney Creek eight years ago. They’ve tried to sell 401 N. Mendenhall twice before, in 2011 ($329,000) and 2014 ($359,000). The market appears to be stronger than it was in those years, although the owners are aiming higher than many who have accepted offers recently just days after listing their homes.

realtor.com listing

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Classic House of the Week: Greensboro’s Historic Garden Estate Miramichi Nears Century Mark

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Photos courtesy of Preservation Greensboro

The 32-acre Miramichi estate in Greensboro is for sale for $750,000. Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro, writes about the history of the property and its creators on the Preservation Greensboro website:

Many of the region’s great gardens began as private rural estates that were away from the distractions and distresses of city life. Reynolda House for the Reynolds family of Winston Salem (1917), Cason and Virginia Callaway’s garden in Pine Mountain, Ga. (1952), and Lewis Ginter’s Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va. (1984), are all examples of early private gardens that grew to become major public destinations.

Located at 1415 Kellenberger Road in southeast Greensboro, Miramichi is an early private botanical garden with charms and character cultivated by a notable North Carolina couple, May and J.A. “Kell” Kellenberger. Begun in 1920, the estate remains a privately owned garden and was never expanded as a public tourist destination. It represents an unusual glimpse into the earliest period of twentieth century botanical gardens of the region. …

The estate covers 32 acres and is centered upon a one-and-a-half-story log house. The structure is thought to date from 1835 and features V-notch corner-timber details, a stone chimney, and front porch. The structure was the Kellenbergers’ home, and it was heavily altered in the 1920s when they added a half-story and a rear addition that provided a kitchen and library. A later expansion brought more rooms into the house and expanded its footprint to the east. As a restoration project, the home represents one of the earliest examples of historic preservation in the city.

Though the house is charming, the estate is most notable for its landscape – a sophisticated but informally landscaped park. A north-flowing stream bisects the property, and the grounds consist of native woodlands and open lawns, complemented by evergreens, wisteria, and periwinkle. Mature specimen trees such as tamaracks, cypress, and hemlocks are complemented with boxwoods, azaleas and an extensive stand of bamboo to define different areas of the estate’s gardens.

Man-made elements of the estate complement natural features. They include stone-lined spring basins of local fieldstone with a bench, a curvilinear pool with a spillway, and a cement lap pool. Larger structures include a dam created around 1915, a picnic structure of cedar logs topped with a hipped roofline, a two-story boathouse with a viewing deck, and an outdoor picnic area with fieldstone chimney. Currently, the lake is drained, and elements of the gardens have fallen into disrepair.

The estate, including its house, outbuildings, recreation-associated structures, and naturalized landscaping, conjures the imaginative sprit of the Kellenbergers and their ambitious plans for a relaxed country lifestyle between 1921 to 1944. The Kellenberger Estate is significant for its landscape architecture as a rare survivor of a series of comparable rural estates that have stood in Guilford County, ranging from the Jefferson Club off New Garden Road to the Twin Lakes Lodge in southwest Greensboro and Katydid Mill just a half mile south on McConnell Road. The property remains today one of Greensboro’s hidden treasures – a well-preserved historical garden representing the early botanical interests of the Kellenbergers as they sought to cultivate a richly landscaped setting as a focus of regional interest and enjoyment.

The Kellenberger Estate Miramichi was inscribed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The gardens have not enjoyed constant care and management over the past several years, but a careful management plan could see the grounds revived to their original spectacular setting for garden events and tours. The property is currently for sale.

Benjamin Briggs’s complete account of the history of Miramichi and the Kellenbergers

realtor.com listing

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Classic House of the Week: A Distinctive 1927 Mansion in Sedgefield, $684,000

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For decades, High Point Road was a primary route between Greensboro and High Point. Anyone paying the least attention as they passed Sedgefield saw 3000 W. Sedgefield Drive, facing the road between streets leading into and out of the area. For many of the tens of thousands of drivers who passed it every day, it was about all they saw of Greensboro’s classic golf-course development.

Now, Gate City Boulevard has rerouted traffic away from that part of High Point Road, leaving a quiet little stretch cut off from everyone heading to or from Adams Farm, GTCC and High Point. And 3000 W. Sedgefield is for sale for $684,000. The house is far larger than it looks, 4,164 square feet, with four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. That comes to $164 per square foot, comparable to Sunset Hills and well below the typical Irving Park mansion.

The lot is 1.57 acres, considerably larger than is typical in those high-end neighborhoods (though not unusual in Sedgefield). More than half of the pictures with the listing show the grounds and the house’s killer feature: It’s not a swimming pool with a waterfall; it’s “a stone grotto formed with natural boulders surrounding a heated salt water pool.”

The house itself is open and elegant with beautiful woodwork, a nicely updated eat-in kitchen and posh bathrooms. If you can live without being on the golf course, it’s the epitome of Sedgefield in a tidy 4,164 square feet and 1.57 beautiful acres.

realtor.com listing

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Classic House of the Week: A Beautiful 1916 Farmhouse on 4 Acres near Browns Summit

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It would be hard to find a prettier old farmhouse than 4909 Oldway Road. Set on four acres just off U.S. 29 North near Browns Summit, it’s on the market for $390,000. It has been for sale for more than two years, a remarkable length of time considering the fine condition of the house and property. Buyers may be put off by the proximity to the highway — it’s right at the N.C. 150 exit — but someone is going to get over that and get a pretty good price on a very nice place.

The house has three bedrooms and two and a half baths, 2,952 square feet ($149 per square foot). The property includes the house, built in 1916, a barn and a workshop. About three acres are fenced. The house itself is in beautiful condition, judging from the photos with the listing — a modern kitchen and bathrooms, beautiful hardwood floors and unpainted woodwork. The current decor may be a little busy visually — the combination of patterned carpets, furniture and wallpaper gets intense in some rooms — but that’s no big deal (unless your furniture and carpets look just like theirs).

What does seem to be a big deal is the highway. That’s all I see that would discourage a buyer. I’ve driven around the property, and it doesn’t seem such a bad location (though, admittedly, that’s easy for me to say since I’m not thinking about buying the place). The price has come down to $390,000 from $525,000 originally, when it included an additional two-acre lot that has been sold separately. Somebody is going to look at that price, a beautiful house and very nice acreage and see a sweet deal.

realtor.com listing

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Classic Houses of the Week: 3 Very Different Homes in Historic Neighborhoods

Greensboro’s three historic districts are hot properties this spring. If you’re interested in a classic home in College Hill, Dunleath or Fisher Park, you better be ready to move fast. The most recent Dunleath listing, for example, 615 Percy Street, was on the market just two days before the owner accepted an offer.

Here are three of the best homes for sale now in Greensboro’s most historic neighborhoods.

107 S. Mendenhall Street,
College Hill Historic District

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[Update: The house sold for $370,000 on June 5, 2018.]

This is the kind of appealingly quirky house that turns up every so often in historic neighborhoods. With its green terracotta tile roof, high-pitched gables and tile work, it’s a one-of-a-kind gem. It’s also surprisingly large, 3,300 square feet; priced at $369,900, that comes out to a pretty modest $122 per square foot (its 0.43 acre lot also is relatively large for old neighborhoods). It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a lower level that could be an in-law suite.

The 1922 house has been thoroughly renovated since it was bought out of foreclosure in 2014 — a new master suite on the first floor with a walk-in closet, new bathrooms and kitchen, a hot tub in the garden. It’s for sale by owner, effective last weekend.

Relatively few homes went on the market in College Hill last year, and there have been only a few again this spring. For a spacious, distinctive home that needs no work at all, 107 S. Mendenhall is an unusual, maybe rare, find.

zillow.com listing

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207 E. Hendrix Street,
Fisher Park Historic District

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[Update: The house sold for $310,000 on August 15, 2018.]
[Update 2: It went up for sale again on July 2, 2019]

In Fisher Park, far more homes have come up for sale recently, and they’re moving fast. Six homes have gone on the market in the neighborhood this year; five had sales pending within 10 days.

The other one is 207 E. Hendrix Street, which has been dawdling on the market for almost a month. The 1919 bungalow has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,868 square feet. It’s on the market for $349,900. At a healthy $187 per square foot, it’s priced near the top of the current range in Fisher Park. Still, it’s in pristine condition on a gorgeous street in the heart of Fisher Park.

The downstairs is remarkably open for a house of its age. The kitchen and bathrooms have been renovated. There’s a small building in the back that could be used as an office or workshop. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s a classic house in one of Greensboro’s most popular neighborhoods.

realtor.com listing

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805 5th Avenue,
Historic Dunleath

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[Update: The house sold for its asking price, $274,900, on May 14, 2018.]

805 5th Avenue is a grand old house, built in 1900. Bought 18 months ago to be renovated and sold, it’s now on the market for $274,900. It has four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms, 2,592 square feet. That’s just $116 per square foot.

Like 207 E. Hendrix, it has a surprisingly open first floor, and the kitchen and bathrooms have been updated well. It’s considerably larger, though, and significantly less expensive. You get a lot more house for the money in Dunleath, and 805 Fifth is a good example.

The house is in the Dunleath neighborhood but sits just outside the boundary of the local historic district. It has been for sale for two months.

realtor.com listing

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Open House: Come Visit Hillside, the Julian Price House, and See Its Dazzling Restoration

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Hillside, unlike the other houses on this website, isn’t actually for sale. Its owners, Michael and Eric Fuko-Rizzo, bought the decrepit Fisher Park landmark in 2016 for $415,000. As they’ve invested what must be a breathtaking amount into resuscitating it, the project has gained a national following. Their determination and patience have been heroic, and the results are spectacular.

Over the past 18 months, Hillside, the Julian Price House, has been transformed from a head-shaking state of decay into a Designer Showhouse. Daily through Sunday April 29, you can visit the house and see Greensboro’s most dramatic historic-home rescue. The address is 301 Fisher Park Circle. Tickets for self-guided tours are $35 and are designated for specific time periods (10 a.m. to noon, noon to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Also, Michael and Eric lead a small-group tour daily at 5 p.m. ($75).

Hillside has become nationally known since the house and its previous owner were featured on the A&E Network’s “Hoarders” in January 2017 (click here to see it; you’ll have to log in with a cable customer account). The home’s Facebook page has 28,000 followers. The showhouse opened last weekend, and visitors have come from as far away as Arizona, Michigan, New York and Florida.

Eighteen designers were recruited from around the country, including the renowned Bunny Williams of New York, prominent local designers and a team of interior design students from UNCG. Built in 1929, the home has 31 rooms and 7,200 square feet of space. It was built by Julian and Ethel Price and designed by Charles C. Hartmann, whom Julian Price persuaded to move to Greensboro to design the Jefferson-Standard building for him. The house is unusually linear, one room deep essentially from the veranda and sun parlor on one end to the kitchen and solarium on the other. The layout gives the house an unexpectedly intimate atmosphere as one room flows into the next.

The restoration has brought out a wealth of historic detail. The drawing-room ceiling and fireplace surround are almost works of art in themselves. The elegant light fixture over the curving staircase, originally from the home of Ethel Price’s mother in France, exemplifies the glamor of the period. The bathrooms have their original tile and fixtures, the original door and window hardware has been strikingly cleaned, and the ceramic-tile roof was hand-cleaned by one of the owners. Even the tiny telephone closet off the entry foyer has been given a high-style makeover.

The Tudor Revival home is a landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a Guilford County landmark. After the tours end on April 29, Hillside will become the home of Michael and Eric and their three-year-old twin daughters.

The showhouse benefits Preservation Greensboro, which, through the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund, was instrumental in saving the home from demolition. Local designer Linda Lane, a member of Preservation Greensboro’s board, was project manager.

Photos are from the Hillside Facebook page, except for the drawing room and the roof.

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Louise Price Parsons, the last of the Prices to live in Hillside, with homeowners Michael (left) and Eric Fuko-Rizzo

 

Muntins & Mullions, Pilasters & Quoins: Every Part of Your House, No Matter How Obscure, Has a Name

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U.S. Department of Commerce, 1931, via the invaluable inspectapedia.com

Preservationists, architects and old-house experts often seem to be speaking a foreign language. They’re full of observations about fascia, frieze boards, fanlighs, and other things the rest of us have trouble even spelling, much less remembering and looking up later. Don’t feel bad — experts use such words every day, while the rest of us don’t even know that the things they describe have names.

But they do have names, and there’s no better example of the infinite capacity of the English language to create or absorb words than than the innumerable parts of houses, especially old ones. Thanks to the internet and its infinite capacity to store obscure information, we can all learn what those words mean.

The Online Resources page now includes links to a number of sources providing glossaries, dictionaries and other lists of terms. Specifically:

There are at least 15 types of roofs, including gambrel, cross hipped and jerkinhead. Old House Online has a page on doors with a dozen terms for parts and styles of doors (and doesn’t even mention barn doors, which are popular now, French doors* or pocket doors). We all know what porches are, but what about arbors, gazebos, patios, pavilions and pergolas? We could talk all day about siding terminology.

Just about any old-house term you can remember to look up will be found in at least one of these links. Or try Wikipedia, also very helpful (and deserving of your financial support, by the way — somebody has to pay for all those servers or routers or whatever they are).

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* The French term for “French door” is “porte-fenêtre” — door-window. It’s too bad all these terms can’t be so self-explanatory.