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.
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.
Every year, Preservation Greensboro creates a “Watch List” of local historic homes and buildings that are in danger of being destroyed. Some are saved, like the remarkable Shaw House at 111 Arden Place, rescued last year by new owners who are renovating the one-time hunting lodge in the College Park neighborhood. Others aren’t, like the Art Deco Showfety Building, which was sacrificed for construction of a parking deck.
This year’s list includes several iconic homes along with the Pilot Life office complex in Sedgefield, the Southern Railway Passenger Depot on South Elm Street, and one of the few Egyptian Revival office buildings in the state.
The 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.
207 North Park Drive is a Fisher Park classic, a Craftsman bungalow with beautiful stone columns. Built in 1912, it overlooks the park on one of the neighborhood’s finest streets. It sold last week for $398,900, its full asking price and a pretty impressive number considering it’s not quite 2,000 square feet. That comes out to $206 per square foot, up near the top of the range for the neighborhood and way above what many Fisher Park houses have sold for recently. The house was on the market just over a week before an offer was accepted.
Even at that price, though, the sellers took a loss. They bought the house for $399,750, and that was 12 long years ago. It’s not a big loss, less than $1,000 (but don’t forget the real estate agents’ commission, likely 6 percent — almost $24,000). Still, how could such a fine house in Fisher Park fail to appreciate in 12 years? The answer: The house was bought in September 2007, only a year before real estate crashed. The pre-catastrophe market was just about at its peak.
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. Continue reading “The 1925 Harry Barton House in Hamilton Lakes, $1.65 million”
There are few houses for sale in Greensboro’s three historic districts this winter. College Hill, Dunleath and Fisher Park have a total of just six houses for sale right now (three others under contract). Still, some of those homes are among the finest historic homes in the city. One of the highlights is 305 S. Mendenhall Street in College Hill, the Stokes-Dees House.
There aren’t enough older homes for sale in Lindley Park and Fisher Park to go around. Since March 1, at least 20 classic homes in Greensboro have sold at a premium to their asking prices. Five have been in Lindley Park and three have been in Fisher Park. The other 12 have been scattered around town.
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. Continue reading “Classic House of the Week: 1820 Madison Avenue, a Timeless Gem in Sunset Hills, $475,000”
Update: No one stepped up to take the house, so it was torn down.
From Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro:
The foursquare house at 429 North Cedar Street is available to someone who might want to move it. The structure has been relocated once before. It sits on a cinderblock foundation. Many original architectural features have been lost, but they can be re-created or re-imagined.
Update: The final upset bid of $252,000 was filed July 17; I think it was the 10th, but I could have missed one or two. The sale closed on July 28, 2018.
906 Olive Street is a nice little Fisher Park house. Built in 1938, it has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,938 square feet. It has a smallish front porch, gray shingle siding and a couple trees in the front yard. It’s a little on the modest side for Fisher Park. There have been a few more or less similar houses for sale in the neighborhood recently. It’s in foreclosure, also like a few others recently. Nice but not especially remarkable.
Except: It went up for auction on June 6, and, three weeks later, the auction is still going on. Continue reading “Classic House of the Week: 906 Olive Street and the Auction That Just Won’t End”
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.
The 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.
Update: For all the anxiety the sale of Edgewood created, in the end it went smoothly and quickly. The property sold for $785,000 on July 11, 2018. The buyers are a family who plan to restore the property.
Historic Edgewood was put up for sale today at $850,000. The listing refers to it as a bargain, and it is, although, ironically, the $770,000 BB&T paid for it in a foreclosure auction was no bargain at all.
BB&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.
Update: The house was listed for 30 days and then withdrawn. The owners now have put it up for rent again.
Westerwood is a 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. Continue reading “Classic House of the Week: A Fine Example of 1920s Westerwood Elegance, $339,500”
The 32-acre Miramichi estate in Greensboro sold for $650,000 in November 2019. 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. …
Update: The house sold for $465,000 on May 29, 2020.
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.
Update: The house sold for $283,500 in May 2019.
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.
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.
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.
Preservationists, architects and old-house experts often seem to be speaking a foreign language. They’re full of observations about fascia, frieze boards, fanlights, 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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.