Update: The house sold for $225,000 on April 30, 2021.
There have been quite a few heroes who were born or lived in Greensboro — Levi Coffin in the earliest days; in the 20th century, Rick and Wes Ferrell, the A&T Four and Ron McNair; and more recently, Joey Cheek and Loretta Lynch, to name a few. Among the greatest were George and Bill Preddy, the World War II fighter pilots who grew up in Dunleath. George was a barnstorming pilot-turned-flying ace and totally fit the part with his Clark Gable mustache and brilliant smile. He was the top P-51 Mustang ace of the war, credited with 26.83 enemy air-to-air victories (including two shared victories). Younger brother Bill followed George into the European theatre. He, too, proved himself an outstanding fighter pilot and was honored as one of the liberators of Czechoslovakia.
Today, their family’s home at 605 Park Avenue is a beautifully restored little bungalow. Their father, George, was a Southern Railway conductor. He and his wife, Clara, had the house built in 1920; Clara sold it after his death 52 years later. Last week, It was put up for sale again. The owners accepted an offer in two days. The asking price was $199,900.
Note: Older homes in Southside rarely come up for sale. There have been only two in the past three years.
The house sits at the corner of McAdoo and Murray streets. Originally part of the Murray family’s large estate, the property was bought in 1901 by Margaret Murray Thornton (1872-1926) from her mother, four siblings and other relatives. Her father, William Rufus Murray (1836-1893), owned a general merchandise store on Market Street. He was listed as living in what is now Southside on Asheboro Street (Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) as early as 1884.
After Margaret’s death, her husband, Charles Dilk Thornton (1872-1947) owned the house until 1943. He was born in Gloucestrshire, England, and worked as a dispatcher for Southern Railway.
The Greensboro Redevelopment Commission bought the house in 1997 as part of Southside’s redevelopment.
Last sale: The house has been owned by the sellers since it was built.
Neighborhood: Irving Park
Note: The house is a meticulous copy of the John Vogler House in Old Salem, built in 1819.
The house was built by Tom and Sara Sears, two of the Triad’s most accomplished preservationists and antique collectors (Antiques magazine says they’ve assembled “one of North Carolina’s finest collections of southern antiques.”). Both have served on the boards of Old Salem and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem. Tom also has served as Old Salem’s director of grounds and buildings, a member of the Greensboro Historic Preservation Commission and on the executive council of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers.
Seasons magazine: “With master builder D.C. Patton from Burlington and woodworker Roger Harvell from Greensboro (who once worked for famed designer Otto Zenke) — not to mention a lot of their own sweat equity — the Searses raised a near perfect replica of the Vogler House … . It included five fireplaces and eventually a copy of Old Salem’s bake house for a tool shed, plus a replica of the Moravian firehouse on the square for a garage.”
John Vogler House, Old Salem NRHP nomination: “A prominent architectural statement was made when silversmith John Vogler built his 1819 two-story Federal style brick house on Main Street at the southwest corner of Salem Square, which departed from traditional Germanic/Moravian architecture. An early advocate of industrialization, Vogler’s hand was in the mix of the Salem grist mill in 1819, the Salem Cotton Mill in 1836, and the industrial activities that followed. However, even with its refinement and stylishness, the house contained Vogler’s shop, and he did not separate his work and living space until 1846. The house was given to Old Salem in 1952 by Vogler descendants and is an exhibit building.”
This 1910 duplex is the last trace of a residential neighborhood in the 100 block of the former East Lee Street. The address is 111-113 E. Gate City Boulevard, and the owners have put the house and its tiny lot up for sale for $1.06 million (yeah, I laughed, too). The lots on either side are vacant. The Union Square campus is across the street. The duplex is the only residence on Gate City Boulevard for blocks in either direction. It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1910, downtown Lee Street was overwhelmingly residential.
Note: It looks like a slate roof. The listing shows the roof material as “other,” so I’m guessing it is.
The house was built by Kirkwood Inc. in 1928 and was a rental property until the company lost it to foreclosure in 1931. It was bought by the Ballard Brothers Fish Company of Cape Charles, Virginia. Although the company doesn’t appear to have had any other presence in Greensboro, it continued to use the house as a rental property (the company appears still to be in business, dba Cherrystone Aqua-Farms).
The first owner-occupants were salesman Albert W. Proctor of the Greensboro Overall Company and his wife, Ann, who bought it in 1936.
In 1939 Dr. Willard Cardwell, a physician, bought the house and owned it for 53 years, selling it in 1992. His wife, Amelia, was a singer (soprano) and general manager of the Greensboro Opera Association in the 1950s.
Update: The house sold for $200,000 on June 15, 2021.
Those great Doric columns grab your attention, don’t they? The Charles Augustus Hendrix House is one grand old mansion. And at $300,000, it’s far more affordable than most of its surviving peers. The house needs some work, but, unless there are stuff-of-nightmares issues (foundation, plumbing, etc.) unseen in the listing, that could be a remarkable price.
The Aubrey and Georgia Lloyd House has a lot going for it. It’s a lovely Craftsman bungalow, it’s in the very attractive West Market Terrace neighborhood. From its owners’ perspective, the best thing about it may be that they bought it for $206,500 two years ago, and now they’re about to sell it for $370,000 or so.
Prince Taylor bought a piece of land in Browns Summit from Ceasar and Jeannette Cone in 1903. It cost $164. The lot was described as “being lot no 1 Block C Ceasar Cone’s subdivision adjacent to the city of Greensboro.”
Prince built his house there in 1913, according to county records, but it may have been earlier (property records that old aren’t always exactly correct). He was a blacksmith, and he kept working until about 10 days before he died in 1953 at age 87. The home stayed in his family until his last surviving daughter sold it in 1987.
The house, at 4606 N.C. Highway 150 East in Browns Summit, has been scheduled to be auctioned twice, in 2020 and 2021. Both auctions were canceled. It was last sold for $115,000 in 2005. It has four bedrooms and one bathroom in 2,224 square feet. The lot is 1.15 acres.
Update: The owners accepted an offer three days after putting the house up for sale. It sold for its full asking price on December 18, 2020.
The way historic houses are selling these days, it’s no surprise that the Effie M. Anderson House went under contract just three days after it was put on the market. Designed by the esteemed Harry Barton, it has been designated a Guilford County historic landmark. And it has been beautifully restored by the current owners.
Older homes that are stripped of their historic character usually aren’t very interesting. It’s increasingly common for renovators to go the cheap route and drain the character from classic homes — installing vinyl siding, replacing original windows with slickly marketed “maintenance-free” ones, tearing out distinctive moldings, doors and floor plans for homogenized blandness.
From the outside, 803 E. Bragg Street in the Asheboro Community was something else again. And that’s putting it mildly. The house lost its historic character, but, for a while at least, it gained an attention-grabbing new look, one that turned out to be too much for even the owners.
Update: The house sold for $475,000 on December 4, 2020.
However it got there, the Esther W. Armfield House does look a bit out of place at 1715 Wright Avenue. This is a modest corner of Sunset Hills, down where the neighborhood starts turning into College Park. On a block of mostly bungalows, Mrs. Armfield’s stately Colonial Revival with its towering columns stands a bit apart, like a rich, elderly recluse who turns up unexpectedly at a neighborhood cookout.
Why it is where it is turns out to be a somewhat uncertain story involving First Presbyterian Church, maybe, and one of Greensboro’s more prominent architects of the early 20th century, who neither designed the house nor lived in it.
Update October 13: The price is now $2,500 for the schoolhouse.
Update October 9: The price is now $500 each for the schoolhouse and the smokehouse. The other outbuildings are $100.
Brothers John and James McNairy looked at the schooling available to their children in Guilford County and decided it would be home-schooling for their kids. That term didn’t exist in 1911 when the brothers were thinking about it, and their solution isn’t one that most home-schoolers would consider today: They built their own schoolhouse and hired a teacher for it. They used the building as a school until 1920, when their youngest children completed their education.
The McNairy family schoolhouse still stands on a piece of what used to be the large McNairy farm in north Greensboro, and it can be yours to take home for $100$500 $2,500. The owner is working with the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund to relocate the schoolhouse and the McNairys’ old smokehouse, which also is available for relocation for $100 $500.
Update: The house sold for $342,750 on February 12, 2021.
The William and Irma Kampschmidt House is an interesting example of the architectural diversity of West Greensboro’s early years. West Market Terrace and adjoining neighborhood Westerwood were built out largely in the 1920s and ’30s, a time when home-buyers valued distinctiveness and style. The Kampschmidt House has both.
A brick, double-gabled bungalow, it sits at 1405 Fairmont Street, two blocks removed from busy West Friendly Avenue and just a couple blocks from Lake Daniel Park. There’s not another house like it in the neighborhood (or probably the rest of Greensboro). West Market Terrace is largely boxed in by the park and Josephine Boyd Street, which eliminates its streets’ use as cut-through drag strips. It’s a quiet corner of Greensboro but still close to UNCG and downtown.
Update: The house sold for $493,000 on January 29, 2021.
605 N. Church Street is just the kind of place historic districts were created to save, a remarkable example of early 20th-century architecture. The wraparound front porch curving out toward the street, second-story porch above it, leaded-glass windows and cross-gambrell roof all combine for a look that’s as distinctive as it is elegant.
The Dutch Colonial is for sale at $589,900, and even at that price it’s a relative bargain. With 3,735 square feet, the price works out to $158 per square foot. Similarly impressive homes in Fisher Park have been selling for $190 to $250 per square foot.
Greensboro’s most expensive neighborhood just experienced a little jolt of activity. A pair of million-dollar-plus historic homes were sold on consecutive days last week. The prices on both were remarkable, even for Irving Park. And the sales were fast: One house hadn’t been listed for sale; the other had been on the market for a single day before the owners accepted a full-price offer.
Those sellers are making it look easy, but in recent years it hasn’t been unusual for Irving Park’s most expensive classic houses to sit for months or years before they sold. If they sold. In the past three years, five houses priced $700,000 to $1.7 million have been withdrawn without sales, and two others have been sold at a loss. During the same time period, 21 others have sold, generally after being on the market a few weeks to as long as five years.
Update: The owners accepted an offer four days after putting the house on the market. It sold for $290,000 on December 4, 2020.
The Morton House, 1332 W. Friendly Avenue, is older than Friendly Avenue itself. When the house was built in 1918, there must have been a road, but it’s not clear from the City Directory whether it had a name (Gaston Avenue, which later became the downtown part of Friendly, didn’t extend that far). Later, it was called West Market Place and then Madison Avenue before Friendly took its current form. This week, the house went up for sale at $290,000. It’s a gorgeous Craftsman, very well restored.
Lindley Park and Sunset Hills get a lot of attention as beautiful, historic neighborhoods, and rightly so, but there’s a largely overlooked neighborhood right next to them that has some beautiful and vastly more affordable historic homes. The Brice Street neighborhood has been almost overrun by low-end landlords because of its proximity to UNCG, but you can find some fine homes there as well. When they come up for sale, the trick is getting to them before Greensboro’s voracious “real estate investors” do.
If you were looking for Odell Byerly’s house in Sedgefield back in the ’60s, you would have found 5703 Anson Road eventually and maybe would have guessed, correctly, that this must be the place. The one with the big columns, like the big columns that made Byerly’s Antiques an I-85 landmark for 40 years.
The Byerly House is a classic Colonial Revival. It’s gracious, rather formal and big — 4,600 square feet. It’s for sale now for $650,000.
There aren’t usually too many houses for sale in Dunleath. Lately, though, there’s been a little burst of activity, with four houses coming onto the market from late July through late August. All four sellers accepted offers within days. And five other Dunleath homes have sold this summer as well. It’s not so unusual that houses are selling quickly in Dunleath, just that there are so many at once. Has Dunleath ever been a hotter neighborhood?
Some houses seem to have potential buyers just lying in wait, ready to pounce as soon as the for-sale sign goes up. 210 Isabel Street is one. It was for sale for two days before the owners accepted an offer. It was just sold in 2018, and then it took three days.
Buying a house is like finding someone to marry. You only need one, but the possibilities are limited to those available at the moment. And it often seems like all the good ones are taken. You could wait your entire adult life for some to become available. Others are out there again every few years. Here are current examples of each type (houses).
Florence and Camille Kivette might have stood out anywhere, but in a small town like Gibsonville there couldn’t have been any way to miss them. For decades. The blue Cadillac and the big parties, the grand house out on the edge of town and Elon College — the sisters loved them, and they weren’t shy about what they loved.
Florence Olga Kivette Childress, born in 1917, and Marjorie Camille Kivette, born in 1920, both were graduates of Elon. They lived together almost their entire lives, even during Florence’s marriage (sadly shortened to just five years by the death of her husband, an Air Force captain). They held huge parties, led the town’s parades and drove their blue Cadillac to Elon for football games, plays and frequent meals in the dining hall.
Update: The three properties are listed separately as of December 15, 2020, all for $325,000. That results in a relatively routine price of $118/square foot for 704 Spring Garden and a wildly high $184/square foot price for each of the other two.)
It’s hard to know what to make of the offer that appeared in local real-estate listings on Friday: Three adjoining houses on Spring Garden Street for sale together at $975,000. All are rentals. 704 Spring Garden is a classic 1900 College Hill home, long ago divided into three apartments. 700 and 702 Spring Garden are single-unit houses, relatively new and essentially identical — built on long-vacant lots in 2003, four bedrooms, four bathrooms, 1,736 square feet each.
The $975,000 price comes out to a head-turning $157 per square foot. There are a couple ways to put that into perspective. Twenty-five College Hill rental houses have been sold in the past five years. Only seven have topped $100 per square foot, the highest being $121 (211 S. Tate Street, then a single-unit rental and now owner-occupied). The 15 multi-unit rental properties have ranged from $63 per square foot to $120 per square foot. So the Spring Garden trio’s owner is looking for a premium of more than 25 percent above the priciest College Hill rentals.
Or consider that owner-occupied houses in College Hill sell at consistently higher prices than rentals, and in the past five years, only two out of 42 have sold for more than $157 per square foot. So, the Spring Garden 3 also are priced at a premium to 95 percent of the owner-occupied houses sold in College Hill since 2015.
On the surface, then, the price of the these houses is well out of proportion for College Hill rentals. But a deeper look shows … what? What could make these three houses worth $975,000? There’s no way to tell from the listings. They contain no interior photos of any of the houses, so if there’s something wonderful inside, the seller isn’t letting on (but why would there be in three rental houses?). The exteriors are OK, not as bad as many rentals but nothing special. The location is no better than that of dozens of other such houses in the neighborhood. Are 21st century houses more brilliantly designed than 100-year-old houses? Are they made of superior building materials? Are they in better condition? Do they have more character? No, no, not necessarily, and no.
Who knows what goes on in the minds of “real-estate investors” (as landlords fancy themselves these days)? Maybe someone with more money than sense will snap these houses right up. Whatever the deal is, good luck.
Surprisingly Pricey Home Sales in Recent Years
Just because a house is listed at a way-high price doesn’t mean it won’t sell. There have been a few conspicuous outliers among College Hill home sales in recent years.
There’s the truly weird 2018 sale of 619 South Mendenhall Street for $420,000 ($145 per square foot). The only house in College Hill that’s sold for more since 2015 was the Bumpas-Troy House, 114 South Mendenhall Street, built in 1847 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That sale was for $425,000 in 2016.
When 619 South Mendenhall was sold in 2018, it had barely survived a disastrous renovation. Five years earlier, the owners started adding a third story without bothering to get a certificate of appropriateness. The city caught up with them and halted work, but not before the entire roof had been removed. For months, only a leaky tarp protected the house from a rainy autumn and winter while the owners wrangled with the Historic Preservation Commission, finally accepted a compromise plan, changed their mind, appealed the plan they themselves had accepted to the Board of Adjustment, lost, and finally had to settle for the compromise. They had bought the house for $135,000 in 2012. And then, astoundingly, they were able to sell it for $420,000 in 2018. Less astoundingly, when the house was sold again this year, the sellers had to take a loss of about $70,000. (The 2018 buyer was an out-of-state LLC with no idea about the local real-estate market.)
On a square-foot basis, the most expensive College Hill house sold in recent years (and maybe ever) hardly looks the part. 611 Joyner Street is sweet little bungalow, just 1,186 square feet. It sold for $129,900 in February 2018. A swift five months later, after what must have been one heck of a renovation, it sold for $222,000. That doesn’t sound like much, but long division tells us it’s a brilliant $187 per square foot. If all rentals in the neighborhood could get that kind of renovation, we’d be Irving Park.
Also high up on College Hill’s all-time most expensive list is 817 Rankin Place. In 2016 it went for a still wow price of $389,000, $173 per square foot. It’s an infill house, built on another long-vacant lot in 2005. It also has an apartment above the garage, so that’s something. But it originally sold for just $250,000 in 2005. Eleven years later — even after the biggest real-estate bust in modern American history — it had appreciated 56 percent, a reminder that the right price for a house is whatever someone is willing to pay for it.
For purposes of comparison, consider …
Seven of the Finest College Hill Homes Sold Since 2018