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

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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.

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: An ninth upset bid was filed July 10. The current bid is $240,000. The outbid period will end on July 20, unless another upset bid is filed by then.

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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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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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.

Classic Homes of the Week: 2 Mid-Century Modern Houses at Opposite Ends of the Price Spectrum

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1611 Longfellow Street in O. Henry Oaks, a modest little Mid-Century Modern classic

[Update: 1611 Longfellow sold for $95,000, a $6,000 premium to its asking price, on May 15, 2018]

Most people tend to think of Mid-Century Modern as a high-end home style with exalted prices, found in exclusive neighborhoods like Irving Park and Hamilton Lakes. That’s often true, but not always. Two mid-century modern homes have come up for sale in Greensboro recently, and one does fit that profile. The other certainly doesn’t.

Every now and then you find a smaller, more basic Mid-Century Modern home in an affordable neighborhood. 1611 Longfellow Drive is an excellent example. Built in 1956, it has three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms, 1,175 square feet. It came on the market at $89,900, $77 per square foot, last week (the day after I posted a blog entry about classic starter homes — this would have been a great one to include). It’s in O. Henry Oaks in east Greensboro, a nice 1950s neighborhood of brick homes.

It has the classic mid-century look — horizontal, angular, unadorned (look at those floors, though) — but it’s simpler architecturally and smaller than the high-end masterpieces that get so much attention (well deserved). The N.C. Modernist website suggests the design may have come from a plan book.

It’s by far the most interesting house for sale under $100,000 right now.

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Meanwhile, in another part of town …

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105 Falkener Drive in Hamilton Lakes, the rich cousin of 1611 Longfellow

… there’s 105 Falkener Drive in Hamilton Lakes, also relatively new on the market. It’s priced at $357,000. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms — not that much different from 1611 Longfellow, so far — but more than twice the size (2,574 square feet) and on a much larger, wooded lot. Built in 1958, it started out as a more luxurious house, and it’s been suitably renovated by the current owners. As high-end homes go, it’s a good buy at $137 per square foot.

Mid-Century Modern is not for everyone. A lot of people don’t find it especially comfortable, cozy or homey. It’s an aesthetic for people who think in terms of aesthetics. That’s why there were thousands of brick ranches and split-levels built in the ’50s and ’60s for every Mid-Century home. But if the style suits you, Greensboro is a good place to find it, and not just at the high end.

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Greensboro’s Views Reflect National Shift Toward Walkable, Mixed-Use Neighborhoods

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Greensboro’s older neighborhoods are very popular. That’s easy to see from the prices their homes sell for and, in many cases, how quickly they sell. As part of its update of the city’s comprehensive plan, the Greensboro Planning Department commissioned a survey that at least partly tells why: A lot of people like walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. That description that matches Fisher Park, College Hill, Lindley Park, Sunset Hills, the Asheboro Community, Glenwood and other older neighborhoods where stores, churches, parks, apartments, etc., exist amid the houses.

Background on the survey from Sue Schwartz, city planning director:

The National Association of Realtors conducts a biannual Community and Transportation Preference Survey in the 50 largest U.S. cities, most recently in 2017. Recently, the surveys have shown a strong shift favoring walkable, mixed-use communities. To see whether that’s true here, the Planning Department teamed with Nick Scarci of the Greater Greensboro Realtors Association and received a grant from NAR to conduct the same survey on the local level (methodology below).  This is the first time the NAR has done a survey for an individual city, so way to go, Sue Schwartz.

Walkable Neighborhoods and Quality of Life

If you love colorful charts and graphs, click here to see the results (PDF). Some notable findings:

  • In general, people in Greensboro are very satisfied with their quality of life. The vast majority (9 in 10) of residents are either very or somewhat satisfied, with nearly half of all residents saying they are very satisfied.
    • These satisfaction numbers are higher than for Americans in the top 50 MSAs, especially when it comes to being very satisfied: 46 percent are very satisfied in Greensboro compared to 37 percent in metropolitan areas throughout the country.
  • The more walkable the neighborhood, the more satisfied residents are with their quality of life (see chart above).
  • Over half of Greensboro residents prefer homes in walkable neighborhoods with small yards.
  • Three-quarters of Greensboro residents live in houses – attached or detached – compared to two-thirds in the top 50 MSAs.

[Editorial comment: Greensboro’s home-ownership rate of 50 percent is well below the national average of 63 percent, suggesting more renters in Greensboro than other cities rent houses rather than apartments. And that probably makes buying a less expensive or starter home here even more difficult than it tends to be anyway.]

  • While Greensboro residents echo the national results in their top priorities, certain elements are much more important to people here.
    • Two-thirds say sidewalks and places to take walks are very important in deciding where to live, compared to half of national respondents.
    • Being close to highways and within a short commute to work is also very important to over half of Greensboro residents.
  • Older Greensboro residents (Gen Xers and Boomers) are more likely to prefer homes with smaller yards and more walkable neighborhoods.
  • Millennials are split in their preference between such neighborhoods and those with larger yards and more driving.
  • Women and those without kids at home are more likely to prefer small yards in walkable neighborhoods. Men and those with kids at home are split.
  • There are also a lot of good data about transportation, mass transit, etc., which is another matter entirely.

American Strategies, the firm that does the national survey, conducted Greensboro’s. It was done from November 13-20, 2017, and reached 410 adult residents of Greensboro, ages 18 or older. The city’s Planning Department will use the data in the update of Connections 2015, Greensboro’s comprehensive plan.

Update on 111 Arden Place: BB&T Is Preparing to Put Edgewood Up For Sale

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Information from attorney Craig Taylor, immediate past president of Preservation Greensboro:

“On Monday I spoke to a person in BB&T’s bank-owned properties group about 111 Arden Place. As I suspected, the house was involved in a complicated legal situation, and BB&T has been working to satisfy all the creditors who had lien rights on the house. Apparently that process is almost complete.

“In the next week or so, the property will be transferred into the inventory of the asset resolution group. This group will engage a local real estate agent and other professionals to inspect the property and determine a marketing plan. The BB&T representative said they are very aware of the high profile nature of this property and that they already have a significant list of BB&T clients who want to be notified when the house goes on the market. She was not in a position to comment on how they would market the property since the process has not fully begun.”

If you’re coming in late on this, Edgewood is a 5,200 square-foot stone mansion, built in 1915 on 2.26 acres in Sunset Hills. BB&T bought it in a foreclosure auction in January for $770,000. The tax value of the property is just over $1 million. In 1999, the last time it was sold before foreclosure last year, the price was $845,000. It apparently needs a lot of work.

If you’re interested in buying Edgewood, get ready to move fast.

Classic House of the Week: A 1946 Bungalow in Dunleath, $119,900, and Other Starter Homes

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818 Fifth Avenue in Dunleath, a 1946 bungalow for $119,900

Update: 818 Fifth Avenue sold for its asking price, $119,900, on May 25, 2018.

Not every classic home is expensive. Older homes that could be considered starter homes come on the market often. The tough part is getting them before Greensboro’s voracious landlords can grab them. Starter homes have been in especially high demand so far this year.

818 Fifth Avenue in Dunleath is a good example of a classic starter home. Built in 1946, it’s a bungalow with a picket fence, located just outside the Dunleath historic district. Two bedrooms, one bath, 850 square feet, $199,900 ($141/square foot). The photos with the listing suggest that it’s move-in ready (the quality of the photos themselves isn’t very good; click here to see them). It offers the typical kinds of positives and negatives that a buyer might have to balance in a starter home: good location but quite small, nice neighborhood but only one bathroom, doesn’t appear to need work (pending an inspection), but no garage, etc.

It’s been for sale for almost two weeks. I wouldn’t expect it to be available very long. Here are some more starter homes that have been listed since the first of the year.

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1521 Rankin Road

  • $115,900
  • 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1,359 square feet, 0.7 acre lot
  • Price/square foot: $85
  • Built in 1941
  • Listed March 20, 2018
  • Last sale: $100,000, May 2000
  • Neighborhood: Rankin
  • Nice house, nice neighborhood. Has a two-car detached garage.

Some of the best currently available older starter homes are outside Greensboro:

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715 Burlington Avenue, Gibsonville

  • $135,000 (originally listed at $138,500)
  • 2 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 1,361 square feet, 3.06 acres
  • Price/square foot: $99
  • Built in 1927
  • Listed February 1, 2018
  • Last sale: $98,500, April 2001
  • A little more expensive but considerably cheaper on a square-foot basis — a bigger house and a way-bigger, three-acre lot. It’s in the Alamance County section of Gibsonville.

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5737 Chrismon Road, Browns Summit
Update: Listing withdrawn April 18, 2018

  • $119,900 (originally listed at $129,900)
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 2,156 square feet, 1.36 acres
  • Price/square foot: $60
  • Built in 1928
  • Listed February 14, 2018
  • Last sale: $150,000, July 2008
  • Again, more for your money inside and out (two and a half bathrooms — whoa). As you look at the interior, remember that painting a room (or two) is relatively easy.

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500 Spur Road
Update: Sold for $105,000 on May 1, 2018

  • $105,000 (originally listed at $95,000 … supply and demand)
  • 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1,405 square feet, 0.83 acre
  • Price/square foot: $75
  • Built in 1938
  • Listed January 15, 2018
  • Last sale: $39,000, March 2011
  • Just southeast of Greensboro off Pleasant Garden Road.

Classic House of the Week: Let’s Take a Road Trip to Glencoe Mill Village This Saturday

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2440 Glencoe Street, $278,000: An elegantly restored Glencoe mill house

Glencoe Mill Village is a little gem on the Haw River just north of Burlington. Built in the 1880s, it has been beautifully restored to life. Its 30-some houses comprise one of the most intact mill villages still standing in North Carolina. The houses themselves have been renovated and in many cases sensitively expanded.

Saturday will be a good day to visit Glencoe: Four homes are currently on the market, and three will have open houses. Realtors with listings in the village join together to hold open houses one Saturday per month. Take N.C. 62 north from downtown Burlington, and Glencoe is about three miles up the road at the Haw River.

2440 Glencoe Street, which will be open Saturday, is a excellent example of the village’s restored homes. For sale at $278,000 ($133/square foot), it has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,090 square feet. The original mill house was typical — two rooms downstairs and two upstairs. A kitchen was added about 30 years later as a rear ell; it has been brilliantly redesigned. The home’s features include its original heart-pine flooring, exposed-beam ceilings, track lighting and wide-plank walls and ceilings.

A porch along the kitchen has been turned into a bright hallway that connects back to the original detached kitchen (one of the few still existing in Glencoe). The kitchen has been renovated to serve as a bedroom or den; the current owner has her loom there. The washer and dryer are tucked away in the hallway. A screened-in porch at the side leads to an additional bedroom at the back. The lot is a spacious 0.31 acre.

It’s hard to imagine a more elegantly restored mill house.

About 250 people lived in Glencoe at its peak. After the mill closed in 1954, the village’s population dwindled, and it deteriorated badly. In 1997 Preservation North Carolina bought it with a gift from Sarah Rhyne, a part-owner of the property. The organization joined with Burlington and Alamance County to restore Glencoe. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places; it’s also an Alamance County historic landmark and a Burlington historic district (it’s not actually in the city, but it is within Burlington’s zoning jurisdiction).

The beautiful Haw River Trail runs along the south side of the village and includes a paddle access point at the mill. Glencoe has a peaceful, isolated feel to it, but it’s only 15 minutes to downtown Burlington.

Like any distinctive, historic neighborhood, Glencoe isn’t for everyone. Its quiet and character are far from typical. Consistent with the history of the village, there are no garages or fences, sidewalks or curbs. Ownership of a historic home is really stewardship in a way; it carries responsibilities. The houses themselves tend to have quirks. Their original stairs up to the second floor are almost comically steep.

The owner of 2440 Glencoe Street, along with her late husband, was one of Glencoe’s pioneers in the late ’90s. Twenty years later, like some of the other residents who did such remarkable work restoring the mill houses, she’s ready to leave for a smaller home. There’s room for a new generation in Glencoe.

Real estate listing: 2440 Glencoe Street
Preservation North Carolina for-sale listings for Glencoe

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Housing Summit 2018: Housing Builds Our Economy

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From the Greensboro Housing Coalition:

Deteriorating neighborhoods and lack of affordable stable housing negatively impact education, economic development, and the quality of life we all want. About one in every four Greensboro households is struggling to have a place to live. Some are on the streets, some in homeless shelters. More are “staying” in crowded spaces with friends or relatives. Most of those struggling households that do have homes are paying more than a third of their meager incomes to rent places that sometimes make them sick.

Our annual housing summit builds momentum around the vision of safe affordable housing. We come together annually to educate and inspire. And we challenge each other to substantially increase housing options (policy changes and increased resources for repairing and building different kinds of apartments and houses), to support people accessing and maintaining housing (such as tenant education and rental assistance), and to promote collaboration among leadership. We all come together to transform community knowledge and attitudes to support affordable housing.

This year’s speakers:

  • Gov. Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, and former governor of Maryland;
  • Hershel Lipow, community relations expert in the Compliance and Community Affairs Department of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; and
  • Dr. Jeremy Bray, chair of the Department of Economics at the UNCG Bryan School of Business and Economics.
  • The moderator will be Jeff Thigpen, Guilford County register of deeds.

The summit brings together the Greensboro Housing Coalition, City of Greensboro, HUD, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and other organizations.

Click here for more information or to register.

On March 1, Come Meet the Designers Who Will Give Hillside Mansion Its Ultimate Makeover

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Twenty-five designers will converge on Hillside, the Julian Price House, in March to turn it into a designer showhouse.

Meet the Designers
Hillside Mansion, 301 Fisher Park Circle
Thursday, March 1, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Tickets, $50

The Julian Price House is almost all the way home on its long journey from being featured on “Hoarders” to becoming a Designer Showhouse for three weeks in April.  Once threatened with destruction, historic Hillside will receive a luxurious makeover in March by 25 designers from New York, Dallas and other cities, including Greensboro.

You’re invited to celebrate this milestone, meet some of the designers and hear first-hand about their plans. The home will host a “Meet the Designers” event Thursday March 1, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Ticket sales will benefit Preservation Greensboro.

Tickets are $50. A limited number are still available. Click here to buy tickets and for more information.

Classic House of the Week: ‘One of Greensboro’s Most Elegant’ Homes In College Park, $749,000

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The Fowler House, 1604 N. College Park Drive, sits well above the street atop a large terraced yard. The Mediterranean villa may be the grandest of the relatively few such homes in Greensboro. It would be striking anywhere, but on its lofty perch among the fine neighboring homes, it’s a real standout.

1604 n. park drive map.jpg“The Fowler House is one of Greensboro’s most elegant,” Marvin Brown wrote in Greensboro: An Architectural Record. He describes it as a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish Revival styles, “shaded by an arcade of fluted Doric columns that is topped by a green-tiled pent roof, brackets and a ballustrade.” It was built in 1926.

The unusually large lot is 0.61 acres. and most of it is in front and to the left of the house. It includes driveways from both College Park Drive and Mayflower Drive to the rear. A separate lot directly behind the house on Mayflower is included in the sale. Its tax value is $58,000.

The house is on the market at $749,000. With 3,372 square feet (a lofty $222 per square foot), the house has five bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms. It has a towering porte-cochère  on the right side and a sunroom on the left. The sunroom is the kind of room that closes home sales, bright and uncommonly elegant.

College Park is a small 1920’s neighborhood tucked in between Sunset Hills and UNCG, bounded by West Market Street to the north, Aycock Street to the east, Wright Avenue to the south and perhaps Mayflower Drive on the west (it’s hard to say just where College Park ends and Sunset Hills begins). It has an interesting mix of mansions and modest homes, Mediterranean, Tudor and traditional. Like the Fowler House, many of the houses on College Park Drive sit well above the street. A small park separates the north and south branches of the street. Even though it’s bordered by two major thoroughfares, the whole little area is easy to miss, a hidden gem.

Agency listing

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711 Sunset Drive: The Joseph & Kathleen Bryan House Is For Sale for the First Time Since It Was New in 1935

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Update March 12, 2018: The house was on the market for four days before an offer of $1.655 million was accepted. The sale closed March 12, 2018. 

Joseph and Kathleen Bryan bought a brand-new home in Irving Park in 1935, and now it’s on the market for the first time in 83 years. The 6,000 square-foot house was listed today at $1.675 million.

Bryan left the home to the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation when he died in 1995. The foundation leased it to UNCG for use as the chancellor’s residence until the university recently bought the new guy a McMansion at 15 Clubview Court near the Starmount Forest Country Club.

The Bryan home sits on almost an acre of prime Irving Park real estate (the tax value of the land alone is $650,000).  It has four bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. To serve as the chancellor’s residence, the kitchen was renovated with entertaining in mind. A 20-by-27 foot great room and a 16-by-28 living room can hold quite a crowd, as can the large backyard patio. The wine cellar is pretty spacious as well. The property also includes a three-car garage.

The house was designed by Charles C. Hartmann, whose many Greensboro projects include about 20 homes, the Jefferson-Standard Building, the F.W. Woolworth store that now houses the International Civil Rights Museum and Dudley High School.

Agency listing

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Following up on 111 Arden Place: BB&T Has Bought the Property at Auction

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Photo courtesy of Preservation Greensboro

BB&T has bought Edgewood, the mansion and 2.26-acre property at 111 Arden Place. It paid $770,000 in an auction at the Guilford County Courthouse on Tuesday. Their plans for the property are unknown; their representative at the auction works for a law firm and didn’t know. I’ve asked the bank and hope to hear back soon.

Sunset Hills neighbors have said online that they believe restoring the house and property would require an immense investment beyond the purchase price. One neighbor expressed the opinion that the swimming pool is too deteriorated to be saved.

In any case, it seems unlikely that BB&T will do anything other than sell Edgewood again.

BB&T first became involved with the property nine years ago. According to the latest deed on the property, BB&T Collateral Services provided a loan to the owners in July 2008. In 2015, it sold the debt to SummitBridge National Investments IV of New York.  SummitBridge foreclosed on the property and then bought it in February 2017. It paid $175,000. And now it has sold it to BB&T for $770,000. If anyone can make sense of all that, please leave a comment below.

On Wednesday, the bidding started at $460,765 and shot up quickly from there. Another bidder, an individual who wanted to renovate the house and either live there or sell it, stayed with BB&T as far as he could go but had to stop at $750,000. An unusually large crowd of about 25 people attended the auction.

Minimum Upset Bid: $808,500

Under North Carolina law, the sale remains open for 10 days to allow upset bids to be placed with the Clerk of Superior Court. Such bids must be at least five percent higher than the winning bid. In this case, that would total $808,500. An upset bid would trigger another 10-day upset period, allowing the auction to continue in slow motion.

No Rezoning Required for Redevelopment

Contrary to some neighbors’ expectations, a buyer who wants to redevelop the property wouldn’t necessarily need to get it rezoned. Its old RS-9 zoning is reclassified as R-5 in the new Land Development Ordinance. That zoning allows up to five single-family units per acre; in this case, that would mean theoretically up to 11 homes. The actual number allowed might well be less because any subdivision of the property would have to meet city requirements on minimum lot size and street frontage (and possibly more; those were two points mentioned by zoning director Mike Kirkman when I asked him about it today).

111 Arden Place: A Million-Dollar Sunset Hills Mansion on the Auction Block

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The view from the street offers just a glimpse of the G. Simpson Boren House, aka the Thomas Shaw House, aka Edgewood.

Note, January 11, 2018: This post has been revised with comments and an additional photo from Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro.

When you look at auction.com, you can expect most of the listings to be foreclosed subdivision homes, condos and townhouses. Pretty mundane places. The last thing you might expect would be a house like 111 Arden Place, a 5,200 square-foot stone mansion on 2.26 acres in Sunset Hills. The tax value of the property is just over $1 million. In 1999, the last time it was sold before foreclosure last year, the price was $845,000. This could be an interesting auction.

Known variously as the Thomas J. Shaw House, the G. Simpson Boren House and Edgewood, it may be the largest stone residence in the city, according to Greensboro: An Architectural Record.

“It was most likely built for Judge Thomas J. Shaw, a Superior Court Judge appointed by North Carolina Governor Craig,” Benjamin Briggs wrote in Preservation Greensboro’s 2017 Watch List. “The house was apparently built in 1914-15 by Shaw, and as such it is one of the earliest estates in Greensboro, predating both the nearby Sunset Hills and the College Park neighborhoods. The structure is composed of stone in a Colonial Revival composition featuring shed dormers and a service wing.”

It has six bedrooms and four bathrooms. The property includes a swimming pool, garage, gated driveway and many trees. The online listing includes no interior photos, and if there are any elsewhere online, they’re well hidden.

“The Shaw House is not the first estate to fall into bank ownership,” Briggs wrote. “The Hillside estate of Ethel and Julian Price in Fisher Park fell into ownership by the Bank of America before being sold to purchasers with preservation-oriented plans. The Shaw House could see a similar sale, with hopes that a preservation-minded buyer would see fit to complete a considerate restoration of the house.”

Interesting detail about this auction: Prospective bidders have no opportunity to go into the house and actually see what they would be buying. All you can know about it is what you can see from the street (and that’s not much). This may be typical of courthouse auctions; this or similar wording is on all of the current auction.com listings I’ve read:

“Occupancy Status is Unknown
“Do Not Disturb Occupant.
“It is a criminal offense to trespass on this property.”

So, here’s a million-dollar house (per the county tax department), and the winning bidder can go inside and see its condition right after closing. OK, then! Bring a certified check for 5 percent of your winning bid and hope for the best.

The lender bought the house for $175,000 last February. It’s scheduled to be auctioned Wednesday, January 24, 10:45 a.m., at the Guilford County Courthouse, Eugene Street lobby. (Enter through the main entrance, go downstairs and through the building to the former entrance on Eugene Street. You’ll have to go through security screening when you enter the building, which can take a few minutes. Wireless phones, cameras, laptops, etc., are prohibited in the building.)

Note: Online listings show the house as 5,693 square feet; the county property record shows 5,209.

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Photo courtesy of Preservation Greensboro
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One next-door neighbor is the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
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2010 photo from Guilford County property records

Classic House of the Week: A 1936 Mini-Mansion in Irving Park

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Have you ever said to yourself, “I’d like to buy a million-dollar mansion in Irving Park, but what would I do with 8,000 square feet?” Who has enough furniture for a place that big?

Maybe the house you’re looking for is 1915 Granville Road, a 1936 Georgian that has the luxury of an Irving Park mansion wrapped up in a tidy 2,600 square feet. The price is $839,900, which works out to $321 per square foot, right up there with the neighborhood’s finest mansions.

The property is .41 acre and includes a guest house (with a living room-bedroom and kitchen) and garage.

Those are imported Italian shutters on either side of the front door. And antique Chinese wallpaper in the dining room. The kitchen has two murals, and the den has a built-in seat in its bay window (three bay windows total). There’s also a very striking mural on the garage door.

On the other hand, if you’re OK with 8,000 square feet, you have enough furniture, and the heating and air-conditioning bills don’t scare you to death, 1001 Country Club Drive is still on the market, and the price has just been cut to just $1.59 million. And there’s still a small but elegant collection of other classic million-dollar mansions in and around Greensboro waiting for the right buyer to come along. Happy new year.

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Antique Chinese wallpaper

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Garage (right) and guesthouse
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Guesthouse living room/bedroom
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A playhouse sits in the backyard behind the guesthouse.