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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Classic House of the Week: A 1946 Bungalow in Dunleath, $119,900, and Other Starter Homes

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818 Fifth Avenue in Dunleath, a 1946 bungalow for $119,900

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.

818 Fifth Avenue in Dunleath is a good example of a classic starter home. Built in 1946, it’s a bungalow with a picket fence, located just outside the Dunleath historic district. Two bedrooms, one bath, 850 square feet, $199,900 ($141/square foot). The photos with the listing suggest that it’s move-in ready (the quality of the photos themselves isn’t very good; click here to see them). It offers the typical kinds of positives and negatives that a buyer might have to balance in a starter home: good location but quite small, nice neighborhood but only one bathroom, doesn’t appear to need work (pending an inspection), but no garage, etc.

It’s been for sale for almost two weeks. I wouldn’t expect it to be available very long. Here are some more starter homes that have been listed since the first of the year.

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1521 Rankin Road

  • $115,900
  • 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1,359 square feet, 0.7 acre lot
  • Price/square foot: $85
  • Built in 1941
  • Listed March 20, 2018
  • Last sale: $100,000, May 2000
  • Neighborhood: Rankin
  • Nice house, nice neighborhood. Has a two-car detached garage.

Some of the best currently available older starter homes are outside Greensboro:

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715 Burlington Avenue, Gibsonville

  • $135,000 (originally listed at $138,500)
  • 2 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 1,361 square feet, 3.06 acres
  • Price/square foot: $99
  • Built in 1927
  • Listed February 1, 2018
  • Last sale: $98,500, April 2001
  • A little more expensive but considerably cheaper on a square-foot basis — a bigger house and a way-bigger, three-acre lot. It’s in the Alamance County section of Gibsonville.

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5737 Chrismon Road, Browns Summit
Update: Listing withdrawn April 18, 2018

  • $119,900 (originally listed at $129,900)
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 2,156 square feet, 1.36 acres
  • Price/square foot: $60
  • Built in 1928
  • Listed February 14, 2018
  • Last sale: $150,000, July 2008
  • Again, more for your money inside and out (two and a half bathrooms — whoa). As you look at the interior, remember that painting a room (or two) is relatively easy.

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500 Spur Road
Update: Sold for $105,000 on May 1, 2018

  • $105,000 (originally listed at $95,000 … supply and demand)
  • 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1,405 square feet, 0.83 acre
  • Price/square foot: $75
  • Built in 1938
  • Listed January 15, 2018
  • Last sale: $39,000, March 2011
  • Just southeast of Greensboro off Pleasant Garden Road.

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.

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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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.

Aycock neighborhood gets a new name

aycock-signResidents of the Historic Charles B. Aycock neighborhood have decided to change its name. The new name is Dunleath, named for an 1857 mansion built on a farm that covered essentially all of what is now the neighborhood.

The name of the home is spelled two ways in historical records (Dunleith and Dunleath); the residents will make a final decision on the spelling later [Update 4/4/2017: They chose Dunleath.].  Just removing Aycock’s name was difficult enough. For those not familiar with North Carolina history, Charles B. Aycock was governor from 1901 to 1905. He was revered throughout the 20th century as “the Education Governor” because of his support for public education, including education for African Americans. Schools and related buildings all over the state were named in his honor.

aycock mug.fwLargely overlooked until recent years was Aycock’s fervent support of white supremacy and denial of rights to African Americans. He didn’t just share the prejudices of his time; he was a leader and force in promoting segregation and eliminating voting rights for black North Carolinians (His words: “We recognize and provide for the God-given and hereditary superiority of the white man.”).

In recent years, Aycock’s name has been disappearing all over North Carolina. UNCG has taken it off its campus auditorium, for example, and Duke has taken it off a dormitory. The Guilford County Schools renamed Aycock Middle School, from which the neighborhood took its name (the school is now named for Melvin C. Swann Jr., a longtime school administrator).

The renaming still leaves the neighborhood with two names. While Aycock was chosen when the neighborhood’s local historic district was organized in 1984, its nomination for the National Register of Historic Places, just a few years later, called it the Summit Avenue Historic District. Actually, it will have three names until enough years have passed that Greensboro gets out of the habit of calling it Aycock.

Acknowledgement: The learned Professor David Wharton provides a detailed look at the history of the neighborhood’s name on his blog, which provided some of the information above.