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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Antique Chinese wallpaper

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

415 Sunset Drive: A 1930s ‘Dream Castle’ Is Rescued in Irving Park

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OK, it turns out there has been one classic million-dollar mansion sold in Greensboro this year, after all. And it’s a landmark. 415 Sunset Drive was apparently unlisted before it was sold last month.

The Thornton Brooks House comprises 6,800 square feet on 1.5-plus acres in the heart of Irving Park. Six bedrooms, six bathrooms and two half baths. It was built in the mid-1930s for the son of a founder of the Brooks, Humphrey, etc., etc., law firm. Brooks and his wife owned the house for 51 years. Recently, it has fallen upon hard times. It has been listed for sale eight times since 2008 at prices ranging from $4.3 million down to $2.3 million. It finally sold for $1.5 million.

Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro reports that Sam and Ashley Simpson have bought house and will restore it for family use. Benjamin says:

“The Greensboro Daily News profiled the house in 1941, stating, ‘At 415 Sunset Drive, Irving Park, is a real dream castle. From its circular driveway which lies behind an impressive, yet simple, entranceway, to the pond and formal garden on the opposite side, there’s more than one point of interest.’ More recently, the house was featured in local press for its abandoned state, including transient squatters. Its poor condition led to interest in demolition. The Simpson family is planning a complete restoration of the Irving Park landmark.”

Some photos from better days, via realtor.com:

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Good News! Your Million-Dollar Mansion Is (Still) Waiting for You!

Here’s a segment of the market for classic homes in Greensboro that’s doing just about nothing this year: $1 million and up. Not a single classic home in that price range has sold (as far as my records show). Where did all the millionaires go?

Very Close!

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The most expensive classic house sold in Greensboro this year is 607 Woodland Drive in Irving Park, which went for $999,000 in May. The bigger-than-it-looks, 3,400 square-foot home sold for a stately $312 per square foot. It was on the market three days before the owners accepted the buyer’s offer. Your results may vary.

Honorable Mention

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A 1965 Edward Lowenstein classic, 210 Kemp Road in Starmount Forest is listed at $975,000 and is now under contract. The owners are probably smart enough not to be counting their chickens or money until the sale closes, but the indoor swimming pool alone makes it worth mentioning. It may be the bargain of the year: At 7,200 square feet on just under an acre, the price works out to just $135 per square foot, a fraction of what you’ll usually pay in Greensboro’s high-end neighborhoods.

Let’s Get That Checkbook Out

Those are spoken for, but you still have seven classic homes to choose from at $1 million and up in Greensboro and Guilford County. Take your time; buyers aren’t falling all over each other to grab them. Most have been on the market for a while. Realtors say it takes longer to sell houses in this price range, and the market seems intent on proving them right.

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Ayrshire, 3215 Rockingham Road

What millionaire wouldn’t want an English manor house on Sedgefield’s Donald Ross course? For $2.9 million you get a 1935 Cotswold Tudor, 10,000-plus square foot home with four bedrooms, four full baths and three half baths, plus dining room, den, library, sunroom with a bar, stone terraces, etc. The lot is 2.88 acres. It’s been on the market for almost two years.

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Hillsdale Farm, 6043 Lake Brandt Road

I tend to avoid calling houses “historic” just because they’re old. Hillsdale Farm does have some local history attached to it, though: It was built in 1929 by Lunsford Richardson III (a son of the Vicks VapoRub inventor) and his wife, Margaret, on what was then a 2,800-acre site. Now it’s just a 13,500 square-foot home with eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and 27 acres of wooded land overlooking Lake Brandt. It’s been for sale at $2.875 million for just two months.

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815 Woodland Drive

The most expensive classic home in Greensboro proper is an Irving Park brick Georgian with five bedrooms, five and a half baths and a five-car garage. It has been for sale at an uncompromising $1.79 million since March, the sixth time since 2011 that its current owners have put it on the market. It comes with a smaller piece of Greensboro’s entrepreneurial history: It’s owned by Martin Sprock, founder of Moe’s Southwest Grill (who now lives in Charlotte).

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701 Sunset Drive

This 1937 house has been for sale since April at $1.785 million. At 4,600 square feet, it isn’t the biggest mansion you can find, but it’s not without distinction: With an opulent $388 per square foot price, it’s the most expensive classic home in Greensboro on that basis. The newly renovated home has a den/study with a wet bar, gourmet kitchen with a butler’s pantry, a master suite with a balcony and guest quarters above the garage. That’s where your chauffeur could live.

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1001 Country Club Drive

After Ayrshire, this 1928 gem is the most extravagantly designed among this bunch, a “massive Elizabethan-style dwelling with steeply pitched gables, stuccoed walls patterned in diamonds and squares at gables, all topped with distinctive tile roof,” the listing says. Its $1.69 million price is reduced from the original $1.899 million, making it the one of the few on this list that have been marked down.

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The Douglas-Ravenel House, 106 Fisher Park Circle

For $1.295 million, a great example of how Greensboro’s elite lived 100 years ago: twin living rooms, a library, an English garden with patio and pergola, towering front columns and a neoclassical facade. Thoroughly renovated, beautifully landscaped, 5,200 square feet. Built in 1912.

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804 Sunset Drive

For sale only since August, this 1925 Tudor classic overlooks the Greensboro Country Club golf course. For $1.295 million, you get 4,200 recently renovated square feet on a half acre, plus a two-bedroom, two-bath guest house attached to the garage (chauffeur). Powerball winners and other millionaires wouldn’t even blink at the $307 per square foot price.

Another $999,000 honorable mention

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200 Irving Place

As long as we’re in the neighborhood, let’s at least drive by this 1948 Irving Park classic. It’s $999,000, reduced from its original $1.075 million. Formal rooms, a study, bonus room, front and back stairs, 4,200 square feet, large corner lot, attached two-car garage, etc. “Meticulously maintained for the discriminating buyer,” the listing says. But we would expect no less, wouldn’t we?

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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A circa 1850 National Register House in Guilford County Has Become Very Affordable

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The Joseph McLean House, as it has looked since about 1850

The historic Dr. Joseph McLean House in Sedalia has become one of the most affordable National Register homes you’re likely to find. The well preserved house has been on the market since February, most recently with 18-plus acres for $359,000. Now, the house and just 1.5+/- acres are available for $150,000. The rest of the acreage is still available  with the house or separately. (The owner also is selling another 52-acre parcel nearby.)

The Greek Revival house has three bedrooms and one bathroom. It measures 2,040 square feet. It needs some work, but a new owner wouldn’t necessarily be taking on a major renovation. A walk-through this week showed the house is livable now. The exterior needs cosmetic work. On the interior, some of the rooms need painting, and the floors need refinishing. The kitchen and bathroom would benefit from updating, but they’re usable as they are. With a little creative thinking, a second bathroom might be added upstairs (preservation specialists with the the State Historic Preservation Office can provide assistance). The address is 6069 Burlington Road (U.S. Highway 70), in eastern Guilford County.

6069 burlington road aerial.jpgThe McLean House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. It took its present form around 1850.(Guilford County property records date the house at 1852; the National Register nomination is less specific.)

Dr. McLean was a physician, member of the state Legislature and all-around prominent citizen; the nearby town of McLeansville was named for him. The property had been owned by his wife’s family, the Whartons, since the 1830s.

“Apparently the house originated as a two-story log structure encompassing the current east rooms and center hall, where deep window and door casings reflect the log construction,” the National Register nomination states. “Around 1850 the dwelling substantially achieved its current appearance when it was overbuilt and enlarged with frame construction as the two-story, one-room-deep main block that is three bays wide, sheathed in plain weatherboarding, and covered by a low-pitched gable roof. The vast majority of the weatherboards are original and all are painted white.” (The nomination was written more than 20 years ago, so the extent to which the original weatherboards are still there would need to be confirmed.)

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The 18-plus acre site is shown in red.

The house has remained in the McLean family until now. The current owner, Dr. John McLean, lives in Massachusetts. The family has largely maintained the home’s historic characteristics. “Overall, the Dr. Joseph A. McLean House retains a high degree of integrity,” the National Register form states. “The dwelling is particularly noteworthy due to the preservation of its interior finish as well as its plan. With the exception of the modernization of the north ell room as a kitchen around 1965, the interior is remarkably unaltered.” Two historic outbuildings stand close to the house.

The previous listing for the house and acreage described it as having “potential for agritourism, SFR [single-family residential], or mixed-use/PUD [planned unit development] development.” The acreage has been envisioned as a subdevelopment for more than 20 years (the National Register nomination mentions it). Perhaps selling the house separately, and at a remarkably reasonable price, will allow this well-preserved piece of local history a better chance of survival.

Listing on realtor.com

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A large armoire is built into the dining room, covering a fireplace. It dates from the late 19th or early 20th century.
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The eat-in kitchen includes washer and dryer connections, at left above, and a fireplace, below.

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McLean house lock IMG_20171002_151443070_HDR.jpg  McLean house stairs IMG_20171002_151525376_HDR.jpg

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607 Summit Avenue: A Look into an Alternate-Universe Dunleath

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607 Summit Avenue in Dunleath

The pending sale of 607 Summit Avenue could close any day, so now is a good time to look at the house and consider a future that Greensboro avoided. [Update: The deal fell through, and the house was taken off the market without a sale in the fall of 2017.] Without the protection of the city’s historic-district designation, there’s no telling how many historic houses in Dunleath and College Hill, especially, but in Fisher Park, too, would have met the same soul-killing fate.

Greensboro’s historic-district zoning overlay prevents single-family houses from being broken up into multiple units. The city’s design guidelines for historic districts prevent the kind of clumsy renovation that defines 607 Summit. Nothing can be done about bad pre-historic district renovations, like this house, but the city’s protection at least has prevented any more such hatchet jobs from eroding the historic character of the districts.

In an alternate universe where Greensboro did nothing to protect its most intact historic neighborhoods, grand houses in Alternate Dunleath, Alternate College Hill and Alternate Fisher Park are still being chopped up, thoughtlessly altered and stuffed with as many renters as possible. And so the neighborhoods’ property values haven’t soared and taken some of the property-tax burden off the rest of the city, as they have in our more fortunate universe.

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110 Cypress Street in Dunleath, for sale at $229,500
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214 S. Mendenhall Street in College Hill, recently sold for $338,000

When you look at houses like 110 Cypress Street in Dunleath (for sale at $229,500) and 214 S. Mendenhall Street in College Hill (recently sold for $338,000), you see the kind of houses and prices that would be rare in those neighborhoods, if they existed at all, without the historic district designation.

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106 Fisher Park Circle, now on the market for $1.35 million

Who would invest hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in a house like 106 Fisher Park Circle (for sale at $1.35 million) if landlords were boring into the neighborhood and liquidating its historic character in exchange for the maximum number of rental units?

Greensboro’s leaders in the ’80s had foresight and courage in allowing for the protection of the city’s three historic districts. That protection isn’t a silver bullet, striking down all threats to the districts’ historic character and vitality. But it has given College Hill, Dunleath and Fisher Park a future as thriving neighborhoods, offering greater quality of life, property values and value to the community than before they were protected. Regrettable remnants of the past, like 607 Summit and others, provide a striking reminder of the tangible value that historic preservation brings to Greensboro.

Remaking History: 5 of Greensboro’s Top Renovation Opportunities

If you’ve ever wanted to restore a historic home to its glory, Greensboro and Guilford County are full of opportunities for you. A new page has been added to the website to list homes whose defining characteristic might be described as “needs work … needs TLC … renovation project … rehab project … diamond in the rough … gutted” or the more legalistic “offered with no representations or warranties as to property condition.”

For those with the skills, patience and more money than you think you’ll need, here are five of Greensboro and Guilford’s best renovation opportunities.

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909 N. Elm Street
The Frank Leak House
Blog post

  • $330,000
  • 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 5,790 square feet, 0.43 acre
  • Built in 1914
  • Listed September 1, 2017
  • Last sale: $233,000, February 2017
  • Note: The Leak House is being sold by the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund for a total historic rehabilitation. Click here for details on the rehabilitation agreement, preservation easement and application process. The deadline for applications is Monday, October 2, 2017 has been extended. Contact Preservation Greensboro for details (336-272-5003).

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4909 Guilford College Road
The William G. Wiley House
Blog post

  • $179,800 (originally listed at $194,800)
  • 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, 2,400 square feet, 2.18 acres
  • Price/square foot: $75
  • Built in 1908
  • Listed February 2017
  • Last sale: September 2009, price unavailable in online records
  • Neighborhood: Near Grandover and Business 85
  • Note: A Guilford County Landmark property. Includes a detached workshop with a large second-floor room and a dilapidated barn. Some rooms have been renovated, but most of the house needs work.

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8425 W. Harrell Road, Oak Ridge

  • $149,900
  • 4 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 1,496 square feet, 2.33 acres
  • Price/square foot: $100
  • Built in 1931
  • Listed September 6, 2017
  • Last sale: 1949, no price available in online records
  • Not owner occupied. Listing: “… maybe a rehab project or full tear down, will need new well and septic.” Listing includes no pictures of interior.

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705 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

  • $29,500
  • 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2,022 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $14
  • Built in 1922
  • Listed September 18, 2017
  • Last sale: $14,000, April 2014
  • Neighborhood: Asheboro Community
  • Craigslist: “This house has been gutted …  Tax Value $54,000 Asking Price 29,500 or BEST OFFER. Bring offers we are selling this one FAST!!! We also work with Realtors.”

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219 York Street

  • $10,000
  • 2 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 1,016 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $10
  • Built in 1945
  • Listed June 10, 2017
  • Last sale: $34,000, January 1985
  • Neighborhood: Eastside Park
  • Note: You can’t beat the price.

 

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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8 Classic Homes That Have Sold at a Premium This Year in Greensboro and Guilford County

At least 18 classic homes in Greensboro and Guilford County have sold for more than their asking prices this spring and summer. That’s 17 percent of the 107 sales that I’ve tracked, a nice sign of strength for the local real-estate market. In many cases, the premium was a token amount, but, still, getting anything over asking price is worth celebrating.

Below are the eight that drew the biggest premiums (in dollars, not necessarily in percentage). They’re in the city and the county, in the more expensive neighborhoods you might expect and some lower priced neighborhoods as well. A couple could be classified as starter homes.

Oddly enough, there also have been at least four low-end rentals that have sold at a premium. It would seem as if there are way more than enough of those to go around in Greensboro, but a rental house on Elwell Avenue was listed at $31,200 and sold for $35,500. Smaller premiums were paid for houses in Glenwood, Piedmont Heights and, again, on Elwell Avenue (what’s up with Elwell Avenue?).

1504 Edgedale Road, Irving Park: + $68,000

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  • Sold for $717,000 on July 24 (listed at $649,000), 10.5% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms, 2,835 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $253
  • Built in 1938
  • Listed May 16, 2017
  • Last sale: $450,000, August 2000

There have been a good number of high-end houses available in Irving Park this year (still are, in fact), but there must have been something special about 1504 Edgedale.

2959 N.C. 62 East, Liberty: + $25,000

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  • Sold for $145,000 on August 24, 2017 (listed at $120,000), 21% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,400 square feet, 1.4 acres
  • Price/square foot: $104
  • Built in 1929
  • Listed May 2, 2017
  • Last sale: October 1996, price not available in online records
  • Note: Property is in Guilford County but has a Liberty mailing address.

What makes a property sell at a premium? Right price, right place, good timing. And perhaps some intangibles that don’t show up in the property records.

5510 High Point Road, Sedgefield: + $9,100

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  • Sold for $209,000 on September 5 (listed at $199,900), 4.5% premium
  • 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 2,711 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $77
  • Built in 1941
  • Listed April 19, 2017
  • Last sale: $225,000, April 2013

The owners accepted an offer about two weeks after listing it, but then had to wait four months to close. But for $9,100 over the asking price, why not? Sweet location: The house is on the little cut-off section of High Point Road that was bypassed by the rerouted Gate City Boulevard.

305 S. Elam Avenue, Lindley Park: + $5,250

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  • Sold for $255,000 on August 30 (listed at $249,750), 21% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 1,642 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $155
  • Built in 1926
  • Listed June 24, 2017
  • Last sale: $200,000, November 2005

Nice little house. Great backyard for kids.

1603 Roseland Avenue, McAdoo Heights: + $5,100

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  • Sold for $120,000 on May 26 (listed at $114,900), 4% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,032 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $116
  • Built in 1937
  • Listed April 11, 2017
  • Last sale: $112,000, June 2009

That second bathroom is a killer feature in a starter home like this.

2312 Fortune Lane, Guilford Hills: + $5,000

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  • Sold for $130,000 on June 21, 2017 (listed at $125,000), 4% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,220 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $107
  • Built in 1940
  • Listed May 9, 2017
  • Last sale: $85,000, June 1995
  • Neighborhood: Guilford Hills

Again, a starter home with two bathrooms. This one apparently had been a rental (it wasn’t owner occupied), but the property record now shows this as the new owner’s address.

700 Magnolia Street, Fisher Park: + $4,500

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  • Sold for $199,500 on April 27, 2017 (listed at $195,000), 2% premium
  • 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,680 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $119
  • Built in 1900
  • Listed March 1, 2017
  • Last sale: June 1975, $15,500

The seller accepted an offer two days after putting it on the market.

2509 Sherwood Street, Lindley Park: + $4,000

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  • Sold for $263,000 on June 6, 2017 (listed at $259,000), 1.5% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,850 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $142
  • Built in 1939
  • Listed April 28, 2017
  • Last sale: $232,000, May 2010

Another nice little house that demonstrates how popular Lindley Park is these days.

(Sources: sale figures, Guilford County Tax Department and TriadMLS.com; asking prices, online listings)

 

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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Wednesday June 28: A Mid-Century Modern Shindig* at a National Register House

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Preservation Greensboro’s Love-A-Loewenstein Party

  • Wednesday, June 28, 5:30 p.m.
  • The James and Anne Willis House
  • 707 Blair Street, Greensboro

From Preservation Greensboro:

Do you love Mid-Century Modernism? Do you love mod parties?

Why not enjoy both at our mod party at the Willis House?

The 1964-65 Willis House is significant due to its character-defining architectural features specified by Greensboro architects Loewenstein-Atkinson. Edward Loewenstein and Robert A. Atkinson Jr. led a firm notable for its promotion of Modernist architecture in North Carolina during the mid-twentieth century. The Willis residence manifests Modernist principles in its long, low form and floor plan dictated by function rather than exterior appearance. Generous use of glass and high-quality natural materials such as cypress vertical board siding, walnut and birch paneling, variegated brick veneer, and slate create continuity between the interior and exterior.

The Willis House is an exceptional example of Modernism, and in recognition of its status it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.

Save the date to see this incredible house decked out with 1964 culinary and material memorabilia for a Preservation Greensboro fundraiser! Contact us for tickets.

* Shindig was a mid-century word for party. Click here for another mid-century use of the word.

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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.

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 walkthrough 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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603 N. Church Street: A 1914 Craftsman Gem in Fisher Park

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Update: The house sold for $250,000 on July 31, 2017.

603 N. Church is the most intriguing home for sale in Greensboro’s historic districts. It’s a striking house — you don’t often see a granite Craftsman — set well back on its lot, which is not uncommon in Fisher Park.

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OK, it needs some cosmetic work.

It’s on the market for $275,000. Built in 1914, the house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an attached studio apartment. There’s a deep, tiled front porch. The front door opens into a large living room with a fireplace and exposed-beam ceiling. The door frames and other woodwork are unpainted. The living room and dining room have built-in window seats; there are built-in shelves in the finished attic. The rooms are spacious, particularly on the first floor. The square footage is listed on Zillow and other sites as 1,926, but county property records say 2,696 (the real-estate listings don’t include the finished attic or the apartment). The lot is just under a half acre.

The most curious aspect of the house is that it has been for sale for a year and a half. The current price is 30 percent lower than its original $395,000. It does need some work inside, but as the photos show, nothing too dramatic — cosmetic work to clean up some wear and tear, updating for the kitchen, bathrooms and some light fixtures. There are suspended ceilings in a couple rooms, and who knows what’s above them. The landscaping isn’t much. For a house in Fisher Park that’s not going to require a huge amount of renovation, $275,000 is not a bad price.

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Interesting little room with a problematic ceiling
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Not the kitchen of anyone’s dreams, perhaps, but it’s serviceable
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Low-ceiling attic room

 

5 Open Houses at Historic Homes on June 4

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306 South Mendenhall Street, College Hill

A classic historic district Victorian, extensively renovated. Built in 1922. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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1905 Rolling Road, Sunset Hills

“Lovingly restored Sunset Hills beauty.” Built in 1938. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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518 Willowbrook Drive, Lindley Park

Overlooking Lindley Park on a lot of just under an acre. Garage includes a two-bedroom apartment. Built in 1946. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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1606 Independence Road, Kirkwood

Fireplaces, built-ins and a beautiful deck. Built in 1946. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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508 Piedmont Avenue, Gibsonville

Fully renovated farmhouse in highly affordable Gibsonville. Built in 1926. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

3215 N. Rockingham Road: A 1935 Cotswold Tudor manor house for $2.9 million

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3215 N. Rockingham Road is an English manor house in Sedgefield. It even has a name, Ayrshire. There probably aren’t many English manor houses built on golf courses, but, still, you could easily see DCI Barnaby or Miss Marple knocking on the door to ask the lord about a mysterious death in the village.

3215 n. rockingham road front alt cropped.jpegAyrshire is for sale at $2.9 million. A 1935 Cotswold Tudor, its 10,000-plus square feet contain four bedrooms, four full baths and three half baths, plus dining room, den, library, sunroom with a bar, stone terraces, etc. The lot is 2.88 acres, backing up to Sedgefield’s Donald Ross golf course.

The interior features butterfly pegged floors, wood and plaster moldings, leaded glass windows, solid wood beams, and a marble wall fountain in the main hall. A breezeway connects the house to its garages, two-bedroom guest quarters and herb garden. A magazine article some years ago details its interior design and the extravagant sourcing of its reclaimed stone and wooden beams.

Ayrshire has been on the market for a year and a half. It previously was listed in 2011 and 2012 for $3.75 million. Its current price of $2.9 million, $271/square foot, isn’t quite as extravagant as the property itself. There are any number of smaller properties with higher prices on a square-foot basis.

There isn’t a classier residence in a classier neighborhood in Greensboro. Then again, there isn’t one with a higher price tag, either. It’s the most expensive property currently for sale in Greensboro.

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5 classic homes priced to sell

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104 Meadowbrook Terrace is the best value on the market among $1 million classic homes (aka mansions). Priced at $1.765 million, $207/square foot, it’s listed at almost the same price as the much smaller 701 Sunset Drive ($1.785 million), but on a square-foot basis it’s 47 percent less expensive (701 Sunset is $388/square foot). For the value-conscious millionaire, 104 Meadowbrook is the best buy in Greensboro.

[Update: The house was taken off the market June 3, 2017, after 19 months]

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Among the few historic district homes on the market, 214 S. Mendenhall Street is a sweet combination of price and indoor-and-out beauty. At $359,000, $128/square foot, it’s priced almost identically to the nearby and also lovely 306 South Mendenhall Street ($350,000, also $128/square foot), but has a bigger, more private lot and very nice outdoor spaces.

[Update: The house has a contract pending as of June 3, 2017]

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The five vintage neighborhoods west of downtown are the busiest market for classic homes in Greensboro. There are 24 on the market, and 12 are under contract. Eleven more have been sold this spring. 2808 Springwood Drive is an unusual Lindley Park home that almost looks like a beach house. The listing’s pictures of the interior look quite nice. At $199,000, $113/square foot, it’s a steal.

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In east and south Greensboro, there’s nothing else like 211 N. Dudley Street. A Mid-Century Modern classic, it has been meticulously restored by its current owners (the listing’s pictures show it off well). And at $245,000, $88/square foot, it’s an amazing bargain. Located across Dudley Street from A&T, it’s perfect for an Aggie (or anyone else) who values classic Modernist design.

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In the smaller towns and rural areas of Guilford County, 7204 Whitsett Park Road in Whitsett is a standout: a 1902 farmhouse on just under 2 acres, beautifully restored inside and out. The house is 3,100 square feet, and the property has a couple of outbuildings. At $299,000, $92/square foot, it’s a remarkable bargain.

[Update: An offer was accepted June 3, 2017; it fell through and the house went back on the market June 12.]

4909 Guilford College Road: A sweet little 1908 farmhouse

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4909 Guilford College Road is the last of its contemporaries, if there were any. When it was built in 1908, it may have been alone out there, closer to Jamestown than Greensboro, surrounded by woods and maybe some farmland. Today, the area is a mix of ’60s and ’70s subdivisions, a church built just a few years ago and patches of undeveloped land, some of them quite large. Grandover is nearby, as is Business 85.

4909 guilford college road fireplace.jpgInsulated a bit by its partially wooded, 2 acre-plus lot, 4909 Guilford College Road is a quaint little gem. Listed at $189,800, the house has three bedrooms, one full bathroom and a half bath. Square footage is 2,186, so the price comes out to a modest $87 per square foot. The property includes a separate workshop with a bonus room and a barn.

You can’t see the house itself from the road, screened by trees and vegetation. The living room has a bay window. The kitchen has a fireplace. It has six fireplaces; one has a gorgeous mantel. Judging from the photos in the realtor.com listing, some of the rooms need painting and other cosmetic work, but the kitchen and bathrooms look to be in pretty good shape.

The property was owned by one family from 1961 until 2009, when it was bought by the current owner.

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4909 Guilford College Road, outlined in orange, with Grandover Parkway to the north and Business 85 to the south