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

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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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

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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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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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: 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 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. 105 Falkener Drive sold for $312,000 on August 13, 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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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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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

307 S. Tremont Drive: A Classic 1930 Spanish Revival in Sunset Hills, $224,900

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Update: The house sold for $215,000 on February 22, 2018.

There aren’t too many Spanish Revival homes in Greensboro, so the few we have tend to stand out. That’s especially true for 307 S. Tremont Drive, a beautifully restored Sunset Hills home that went on the market last week for $224,900. The market is strong for houses in the older neighborhoods west of downtown; I’m a little surprised this house is still for sale after a week. That could change after an open house on Sunday.

The house has three bedrooms and one bath, 1,605 square feet. That comes out to $140 per square foot, right about at the median this year for Sunset Hills, though way closer to the bottom than the top. Six classic homes have sold for less and seven for more. Prices have ranged from $128 per square foot to $187.

The interior is beautiful, with hardwood floors, arched doorways, built-in cabinets and shelves, very nice radiator covers and a telephone nook. The front has a patio and pergola; a deck looks over the backyard. Next door is one of the most whimsical homes in Greensboro.

A similar house in Westerwood (not Spanish Revival, but similar in size, condition and price) was on the market for four days last month before the owner accepted an offer. Since mid-September, sellers of at least five other classic homes in older neighborhoods have accepted offers in less than a week. I’m not sure why 307 S. Tremont has taken longer than a week. Maybe it’s the dreary weather.

Listing on triadmls.com

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808 S. Elam Avenue: A 1900 Victorian in Lindley Park, $355,000

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South Elam Avenue between Walker Avenue and Spring Garden Street has a couple of two-story Victorians standing up among the bungalows that line the street. 808 South Elam is the larger of the two at just under 3,000 square feet, and its $355,000 price tag ($121/square foot) makes it an outstanding value in Lindley Park.

Built in 1900, the house has four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. Its most distinctive exterior features are a wrap-around front porch and a remarkably deep backyard (the lot is 0.81 acre.). Inside, the large kitchen and bathrooms all have been updated well. The house has a den, five fireplaces, a workshop, a covered deck at the back and a detached three-car carport.

808 South Elam is toward the Spring Garden end of the street, still an easy walk to the restaurants at Walker and Elam. It’s even walkable to the Greensboro Coliseum in good weather. Many Lindley Park homes have sold quickly this year, and $121 per square foot for a move-in-ready, doesn’t-need-updating house is a great price.

The house will be open Sunday, September 17, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Listing on TriadMLS.com

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909 N. Elm Street: Preservation Fund Seeks Buyer for Major Rehab Project

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The Preservation Greensboro Development Fund is seeking a buyer for a historic rehabilitation of the Frank Leak House at 909 N. Elm Street in Fisher Park. The asking price is $330,000.

The badly neglected 4,000 square-foot house has been vacant for 10 years. Its most prominent features now are the temporary supports propping up the front porch. The fund acquired the house in February through a foreclosure sale.

The property will be sold subject to a rehabilitation agreement and a preservation easement. Further information and an application form to be considered as a potential buyer are available from the fund. The application deadline is Monday October 2, 2017 has been extended from its original date of October 2. Contact Preservation Greensboro for details (336-272-5003).

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Architect J.H, Hopkins’ original blueprint for 909 N. Elm Street

“The rehab agreement will outline the scope of the project along with a timeline for completion,” according to Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro. “This will guide restoration planning and assure that the house will be completely restored. The easement will guide future restorations in terms of design and materials. It will prevent inappropriate alterations to the design and destruction of key architectural features such as mantels and moldings, and will be attached to the deed for the property.”

County tax records list the date of the house as 1914. The listing shows four bedrooms and four bathrooms. It also gives the square footage at 5,700, which appears to include the unheated attic.

Preservation Greensboro’s Greensboro: An Architectural Record describes the house:

“The circa-1914 Georgian Revival-style house of Leak, assistant secretary of the Cone export and Commission Company, is dominated by three pedimented dormers, a heavy modillion-block cornice, and a Doric portico and side porch topped by ballustrades.”

The Preservation Greensboro Develoment Fund is a sister organization to Preservation Greensboro. It works as a “revolving fund,” a pool of capital created and reserved for historic preservation activities with the condition that the money be returned to the fund to be reused for similar activities in the future.

Properties sold through the Fund hold preservation easements to protect their significant architectural features. The Fund has assisted in the restoration or conservation of properties in the Cedar Street, College Hill, Fisher Park, Glenwood, Irving Park and Southside neighborhoods. It also has assisted in planning projects in the Summit Avenue and Southside neighborhoods. It has served other Guilford County communities as well, including High Point and Whitsett.

(Information from Preservation Greensboro was used in this post.)

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The Leak House in better days (photo from Guilford County property records)

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Hillsdale Farm: A Landmark Mansion and 27 Acres, $2.875 Million

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The Colonial Revival house of Hillsdale Farm, built by Lunsford and Margaret Richardson

Update: Hillsdale Farm sold for $2.335 million on February 14, 2018.

If you want to buy a great big piece of Greensboro history, you can’t go much bigger than Hillsdale Farm: a 13,500 square-foot home and 27 acres of wooded land overlooking Lake Brandt. It’s yours for $2.875 million.

The property includes the mansion with eight bedrooms, six full bathrooms and two half baths, and an indoor pool; greenhouse; playhouse; bathhouse; water tower; five-car garage with five-room apartment; and a very long driveway. The property also includes a 1/6 share of the very private Richardson Lake.

Hillsdale Farm has been designated a Guilford County Landmark, which merits a 50 percent reduction in property taxes. Its current tax valuation is $1.896 million.

The house was built in 1929 by Lunsford Richardson III (a son of the Vicks VapoRub inventor) and his wife, Margaret. It was designed by nationally known architect Richardson Brognard Okie of Philadelphia. “Okie’s Colonial Revival designs were notable in that they applied materials and design features of colonial period structures into new building construction,” Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro has written.

“The resulting structures often appeared to be centuries old, when in fact they incorporated all of the conveniences and spatial uses required of mid-twentieth century families such as modern kitchens, private bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages and walk-in closets. Okie used several design techniques to assure the illusion of history, such as rambling floor plans that appeared to have been added organically through time, massive masonry chimneys, and fine hand-carved woodwork.”

Hillsdale Farm left the Richardson family’s holdings more than 30 years ago, and its original 2,800 acres have been pared down to a more manageable 27. But the house still has the look and feel of one of Greensboro’s most notable historic homes.

6043 Lake Brandt Road: realtor.com listing

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The back of the house has a distinctly different look.
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The main house with the garage/apartment in the foreground

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2412 Sylvan Road: Quite A Bargain in a 1937 Sunset Hills Bungalow

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Update: The house sold for $225,000 on September 18, 2017.

If you want a real steal on a classic home, Sunset Hills isn’t usually the place to look. 2412 Sylvan Road may be an exception. It’s on the market for $249,900; at 2,020 square feet, the price comes to $124 per square foot. That’s the lowest price per square foot among the five vintage houses now for sale in the neighborhood (ranging from $139 to $178) and among the 12 that have sold this year (which have ranged up to $187).

The current owners have had the house since 1966. Naturally, it needs work, but it looks to be mostly interior painting and perhaps some floor refinishing. However, the listing includes very few photos, so there’s no telling what much of the house looks like inside (it’s a for sale by owner deal).

2412 Sylvan is a 1937 brick bungalow with four bedrooms and two baths. It has the gracious touches you would expect from that period — a spacious front porch, hardwood floors, a substantial brick fireplace in the living room, a breakfast nook. The kitchen has been updated, and the house has a new roof and HVAC. There’s a deck on the back and an average-size yard. The updating noted in the listing appears to be a work in progress as of this date; the fascia boards have been replaced but not painted, and the new gutters aren’t up yet.

Provided there are no awful surprises in an inspection or in the rooms not pictured in the listing, 2412 Sylvan Road looks a like an opportunity to buy into Sunset Hills at an unusually affordable price.

(Note: The listing puts the square footage at 2,600. I’m using the 2,020 figure that appears in county tax records, as I usually do when there’s a discrepancy.)

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106 Fisher Park Circle: One of Greensboro’s Grandest Mansions for Sale at $1.35 Million

Imposing, large brcik home, two stories with four colossal columns in front

The Douglas-Ravenel House (Photo courtesy of Preservation Greensboro Inc.)

There are other mansions in Fisher Park, but perhaps none of them make the statement the Douglas-Ravenel House does. Overlooking over the park with its towering columns and Neoclassical facade, its says prominence and grandeur in a way that can’t be missed.

106 Fisher Park Circle went on the market yesterday for $1.35 million. Its current owners have given it what the listing describes as a “million-dollar” renovation (after buying it for $770,000 in 2005). The house has five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, twin living rooms, a library, dining room, den and eight fireplaces. Outdoor spaces include a spacious front porch, a private side porch and, in the backyard, an English garden and pergola. You can do a lot with 14 rooms, 5,200 square feet and a third of an acre, and the owners have done quite a lot and quite well, too. Their work was honored with a Restoration Award from Preservation Greensboro in 2006.

“The Douglas-Ravenel House was constructed in 1912, among the earliest houses in the Fisher Park neighborhood,” Preservation Greensboro’s Benjamin Briggs has written. “Occupying a high south-facing lot overlooking the wooded park, the Douglas-Ravenel House is one of the best residential examples of Neoclassical Revival architecture in Greensboro.” It also has been named a Guilford County Historic Landmark.

There have been few grand old houses for sale in Greensboro’s historic districts this year. Even if there had been, the Douglas-Ravenel House would be a standout.

Listing on realtor.com

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409 Westdale Place: A hidden 1939 gem in Lindley Park

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Update: The house sold for $228,000 on November 1, 2017.

409 Westdale Place sits off the beaten track (Walker Avenue) in an unusual little corner of Lindley Park.  The street runs one block from Walker north, ending just before it reaches South Lindell Road, so there’s no through traffic. The owners of 409 Westdale also own the undeveloped lot on Longview Street immediately behind their house, which is included in the sale (several neighbors on Westdale also own the undeveloped Longview lots behind their houses). It’s an interesting little spot.

So, a buyer will get a classic Lindley Park home on a deep double lot for $245,000, a reasonable price for one of the hottest neighborhoods in Greensboro this year. The house is an elegantly simple brick bungalow with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,720 square feet (the price works out to $142 per square foot). The interior features such period touches as arched doorways and built-in shelves and cabinets in the living room. It appears to be in 100 percent move-in condition.

Classic homes in Lindley Park have sold for $174 per square foot down to $116 this year. Only three have sold below $142, so 409 Westdale is a relative bargain. It has been on the market for about three weeks. The way older homes have moved in Lindley Park this season, you wouldn’t expect this one to be available much longer.

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409 Westdale is highlighted; the lot immediately behind it is included in the sale. For some reason, Longview Street was never cut through from Walker northward to Wright Avenue and Fry Street, even though it picks up again at Fry and lots were laid out all the way through. Just how an entire block in Lindley Park came to be undeveloped is a real puzzle.

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The backyard extends all the way through the trees to where Longview Street would be if had been extended from Walker Avenue to Fry Street.

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1907 Madison Avenue: A Sunset Hills Classic for Sale After 43 Years

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Update: The house sold for its asking price, $429,900, on August 30, 2017. It had been for sale for seven days when the owners accepted the offer.

Owners of classic homes in Lindley Park, Sunset Hills and Westerwood are getting the message that this is a good year to sell their homes. Five have gone up for sale in the three neighborhoods this month, and there have been 11 closings since June 1. Fast deals are common. Offers were accepted in a week or less on five houses currently under contract.

One of the latest to come onto the market is 1907 Madison Avenue in Sunset Hills, a distinctive 1928 brick bungalow. The exterior features arched brickwork over the windows and a low brick wall around a front patio. It’s roomier than it may look from the street — 3,118 square feet with five bedrooms and three full bathrooms. It sits on a quarter-acre lot that easily accommodates the detached two-car garage.

The listing price is $429,900, $139 per square foot. That’s right on target for an immaculate home in one of Greensboro’s most popular older neighborhoods.

1907 Madison’s owners have had the house since 1974 (four of the classic homes now for sale in the neighborhoods haven’t been sold since the ’70s). It’s one of the most elegant classic homes you’ll find in Greensboro.

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200 E. Bessemer Avenue: A Grand Fisher Park House That Could Become a Home Again

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200 E. Bessemer is an unusual opportunity: Used as offices for the past 20 years or so, it’s being marketed as either a residence or offices. Converting it back to a home would be relatively easy, as it was never divided up or altered significantly from its days as a residence, aside from the back yard being paved. The property is zoned for office use, which allows it to be used as a residence.

The house went on the market this week at $410,000, a reasonable $145 per square foot. It’s known as both the Avalon Center and the A.J. Schlosser House. Built in 1920, it has three bedrooms and a bath and a half. It features two fireplaces with their original tile and mantels, unpainted woodwork, three sun porches (one off the master bedroom) and a relatively new slate roof (installed in 2000). A backyard garage has been converted into a one-room studio. The main house has exterior lighting and an HVAC system with electrostatic air filtration. The front yard has a sprinkler system. The owner clearly has taken good care of the house.

It’s hard to miss — an imposing two-story granite house, sitting in a prominent location at East Bessemer and Magnolia Street. Arched stonework decorates the front door and first-floor windows. The driveway passes through a portico on its way back to the studio.

The house is in the Fisher Park Historic District. The block is a mix of residences and houses converted to office use. The Craftsman house next door, 208 E. Bessemer, also went on the market this week; that one is for sale only as office space. Across the street are two grand old 1924 apartment houses, the Fairfax and the Shirley.

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1033 Pearson Street: A Classic 1946 Brick Bungalow in the Asheboro Community

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Update: The house sold for $86,500 on August 15, 2017

1033 Pearson Street may be the most attractive older house for sale now in south Greensboro. It was built in 1946, a little later than most in the Asheboro Community. It features brick arches on the front porch and a nicely renovated interior. The house was one of the many cited in the neighborhood’s successful nomination for the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 (listed under the neighborhood’s previous name, South Greensboro).

1033 pearson street front door.jpgThe house is for sale for $89,500. An offer was accepted almost immediately after the house went on the market in May, but it fell through. The house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. With 1,232 square feet, its price comes out to just $71 per square foot. The interior maintains its lovely period features, such as arched doorways and a breakfast nook.

The Asheboro Community was built out mostly from the 1860’s through the 1920s. It was a more middle-class neighborhood than Fisher Park or Irving Park, but the houses included imposing Queen Annes amid the bungalows. Many of the older homes, large and small, are still standing. Like some other prosperous Greensboro neighborhoods of its era, such as College Hill and Dunleith, the neighborhood suffered mightily during the Depression and the decades that followed. Today, renovations are underway on at least one grand old house on Pearson Street, although others are still boarded up or decaying with absentee ownership. Overall, the area shows early signs of a renaissance. If 1033 Pearson is bought to be owner occupied rather than a rental, it will be another step forward.

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507 Park Avenue: A 1915 fixer-upper in the Dunleath Historic District, open Saturday

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Update: The house sold for $60,000 on July 7, 2017, one month after it went on the market. After a thorough renovation, the house sold for $250,000 on September 11, 2019. It had been listed for $242,000.

507 Park Avenue looks like the best opportunity in Greensboro right now for a buyer who wants to give a historic home a thorough restoration. While the Zillow listing has no interior photos, it includes a quick video walk-through that provides a good idea of its condition (screenshots below).

The Craftsman bungalow is for sale at $79,900, a price definitely down in the fixer-upper range for a home in the Dunleath Historic District (remember, it’s Dunleath now, not Aycock). It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and either 1,637 square feet (county records) or 2,131 (Zillow). It has been owned by one family since 1961.

The house is easily identified by its distinctive front porch, with double columns atop tall brick pillars, and a dormer with somewhat cramped-looking windows. The front yard is in good shape, especially if you love shrubs. A double concrete-strip driveway leads to a backyard garage. Also behind the house are a brick fireplace, clothes line and a small shed. The video indicates the interior isn’t awful but does need a thorough renovation. The listing says it has central air conditioning, but there are a couple window air conditioners as well.

507 Park went on the market Wednesday. If this is the kind of opportunity you’re looking for, get over there Saturday and take a look. Very few properties are for sale in Greensboro’s historic districts this spring, and this looks to be the best renovation candidate on the market.

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New Listing: 214 S. Mendenhall, a Classic and Comfortable Victorian Farmhouse in College Hill

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Update: The house sold for $359,000 on August 1, 2017.

214 S. Mendenhall Street is a good example of what Greensboro’s historic districts strive to be: It’s not a museum piece, but a living piece of history that serves its owner as comfortably today as it did a century ago. It embodies the character and charm of turn-of-the-century architecture with its broad front porch, high ceilings and five fireplaces. And it has been thoughtfully restored and renovated, inside and out, to preserve those qualities in a home as livable as any modern house.

The Victorian farmhouse has four bedrooms and three fully renovated bathrooms in 2,800 square feet. At $359,000, that works out to a relatively modest $128 per square foot. The deep lot is 0.41 acre. It was listed for sale May 20.

One of its most distinctive features is an oversized eat-in kitchen with a brick fireplace. The current owner has finished the attic to create a nicely appointed den or entertainment room. The outdoor spaces, including a large deck and pergola in the unusually deep backyard, give it an additional dimension.

The home was built in 1900. In 1903, John and Laura Sharpe bought it, and it stayed in their family for 73 years. The current seller, Donna Kelly, is a former member of the Historic Preservation Commission. She bought the house in 2003.

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