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
Update: After almost two years, the property sold on July 6, 2021 for $155,000. The owner accepted four offers that fell through before selling the house on the fifth try.
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):
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
Update: The property sold for $167,000 in October 2019. It apparently was renovated and sold again for $198,500 in March 2020.
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.
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.