305 S. Mendenhall Street: A 1918 College Hill Classic, $324,900

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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.

The house is in move-in condition. The current owner bought it in 1978, restored it beautifully and has lived there ever since. Built in 1918, it has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,470 square feet. That puts the price at $132 per square foot; recent sales of renovated homes on S. Mendenhall Street have ranged up to $145. The house has period details throughout, including pocket doors and unpainted woodwork. A spacious deck and brick patio have been added in the back.

305 S. Mendenhall also has a marginal celebrity connection. From 1933-53, it was owned by prominent local physician Dr. Rigdon O. Dees. A few years before he sold it, his namesake grandchild, Rigdon O. Dees III, was born.  Greensboro radio listeners in the early 70’s knew Rick Dees as a disc jockey before he blew town on his way to lasting trivia-level fame for his No. 1 1976 record “Disco Duck.”

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Classic Houses of the Week: 3 Very Different Homes in Historic Neighborhoods

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.

107 S. Mendenhall Street,
College Hill Historic District

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[Update: The house sold for $370,000 on June 5, 2018.]

This is the kind of appealingly quirky house that turns up every so often in historic neighborhoods. With its green terracotta tile roof, high-pitched gables and tile work, it’s a one-of-a-kind gem. It’s also surprisingly large, 3,300 square feet; priced at $369,900, that comes out to a pretty modest $122 per square foot (its 0.43 acre lot also is relatively large for old neighborhoods). It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a lower level that could be an in-law suite.

The 1922 house has been thoroughly renovated since it was bought out of foreclosure in 2014 — a new master suite on the first floor with a walk-in closet, new bathrooms and kitchen, a hot tub in the garden. It’s for sale by owner, effective last weekend.

Relatively few homes went on the market in College Hill last year, and there have been only a few again this spring. For a spacious, distinctive home that needs no work at all, 107 S. Mendenhall is an unusual, maybe rare, find.

zillow.com listing

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207 E. Hendrix Street,
Fisher Park Historic District

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[Update: The house sold for $310,000 on August 15, 2018.]
[Update 2: It went up for sale again on July 2, 2019]

In Fisher Park, far more homes have come up for sale recently, and they’re moving fast. Six homes have gone on the market in the neighborhood this year; five had sales pending within 10 days.

The other one is 207 E. Hendrix Street, which has been dawdling on the market for almost a month. The 1919 bungalow has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,868 square feet. It’s on the market for $349,900. At a healthy $187 per square foot, it’s priced near the top of the current range in Fisher Park. Still, it’s in pristine condition on a gorgeous street in the heart of Fisher Park.

The downstairs is remarkably open for a house of its age. The kitchen and bathrooms have been renovated. There’s a small building in the back that could be used as an office or workshop. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s a classic house in one of Greensboro’s most popular neighborhoods.

realtor.com listing

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805 5th Avenue,
Historic Dunleath

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[Update: The house sold for its asking price, $274,900, on May 14, 2018.]

805 5th Avenue is a grand old house, built in 1900. Bought 18 months ago to be renovated and sold, it’s now on the market for $274,900. It has four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms, 2,592 square feet. That’s just $116 per square foot.

Like 207 E. Hendrix, it has a surprisingly open first floor, and the kitchen and bathrooms have been updated well. It’s considerably larger, though, and significantly less expensive. You get a lot more house for the money in Dunleath, and 805 Fifth is a good example.

The house is in the Dunleath neighborhood but sits just outside the boundary of the local historic district. It has been for sale for two months.

realtor.com listing

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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.

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.

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.]

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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500 S. Mendenhall Street: One of Greensboro’s Best Queen Annes

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Update: The house sold for $274,500 on June 23, 2017.

How can this house be on the market again? In the past six years, 500 S. Mendenhall Street has been put up for sale three times without success. Now it’s available for a fourth try, this time priced at $285,000 ($110/square foot). Which would seem a rock-bottom price for a Queen Anne gem.

The house has been divided into three apartments, but a previous listing noted, “Appraiser suggested if $10K spent could convert back to single family dwelling and per sq ft would increase.” It sits on a prime corner lot in College Hill on Mendenhall at Walker Avenue, directly across from the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. It was built in 1900.

It was clearly a favorite of Marvin Brown, author of Greensboro: An Architectural Record:

“One of the best examples of Queen Anne style in Greensboro, it features a complicated picturesque roofline and wall planes, complete with two full-height cutaway bays and an an angled corner fringed with scrolled brackets. Its wraparound porch is fancifully finished with turned posts, brackets, pendants, balusters and spindles.” (Page 352)

That’s a pretty complete package of Queen Anne detail and whimsy. It appears to be in quite good shape, and it’s priced to move. Perhaps this time it will.

Note: The Zillow listing shows the house as 2,291 square feet, but the county tax record shows it as 2,587, which I suspect is more accurate. That’s the figure I’ve used as the basis of the per-square-foot price.

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Offers coming quickly in Irving Park, Sunset Hills, Lindley Park

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607 Woodland Drive, asking $999,000, $312/square foot, offer accepted in three days

The spring home-buying season has gotten off to a fast start, particularly in Irving Park, Lindley Park and Sunset Hills. Two Irving Park homeowners have accepted very quick offers.  607 Woodland had been on the market for three days; the asking price of $999,000 works out to an impressive $312 per square foot. 1104 Sunset Drive (asking $569,000) had been on the market just four days before an offer was accepted.

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309 Woodbine Court, asking $394,900, $159/square foot, offer accepted in two days

In Sunset Hills, we have eight current pre-1950 listings, and six of them went under contract in March. 309 Woodbine Court ($394,900) accepted an offer in two days; 1808 Rolling Road ($400,000), seven days; 2206 W. Market ($618,000), nine days.

In Lindley Park, we have six current listings; four went under contract in March. 2611 Sherwood Street ($164,900) had been on the market two days; 803 Longview Street ($264,000), three days; and 2514 Walker Avenue ($225,000), 34 days.

Elsewhere:

  • The hot item in College Hill has been townhomes in the Wafco area. Four came on the market between February 22 and March 16; all four were under contract by March 27.
  • Listings are at premium in the historic districts. Aside from the townhouses under contract, College Hill has only two houses and a Wafco Mills condo on the market. Just four Fisher Park houses are listed, and two are under contract. An offer was accepted on 700 Magnolia Street ($195,000) after two days on the market. In the newly renamed Dunleath Historic District, only four houses are the market, all smaller homes priced $175,000 or lower.
  • The market for classic mansions in Sedgefield is tight and moving at a pace as stately as the homes themselves. Only three older homes are on the market, all at least 4,000 square feet and on the market at least nine months. Prices range from $425,000 to $2.9 million.

Four classic Greensboro homes currently for sale will be open April 1-2

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306 South Mendenhall Street: $355,000, a 1922 College Hill classic. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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3605 Kirby Drive: $299,900, extensively renovated this year in Starmount Forest. Listed on Friday. Open Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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305 South Chapman Street: $299,900, an elegant 1930 Sunset Hills charmer. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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1808 Independence Road, Kirkwood: $259,500, extensively renovated. Listed on Thursday. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.