Classic House of the Week: 1820 Madison Avenue, a Timeless Gem in Sunset Hills, $475,000

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There are grand, beautiful houses that have been sold three or four times in the past 20 years. This kind of turnover typically says nothing about the house; we just live in a restless time. That’s especially true for the upwardly mobile types who can afford to pay, say, $400,000, $500,000 or more for a house. People who are in a position to make big money tend to go where it leads them.

And then there are houses like 1820 Madison Avenue. It went up for sale this week for the first time in 43 years. It’s easy to see why the owner has lived there so long. Sunset Hills is one of Greensboro’s most attractive neighborhoods, and this house is a fine example of why. Built in 1925, there’s nothing gaudy or breathtaking about it. It’s elegantly, timelessly straightforward.

The house is a spacious but not exorbitant 2,700 square feet; at $475,000, the price comes to $176 per square foot. That’s toward the upper end of the range for Sunset Hills, and why not? Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, beautifully landscaped. Lots of natural light from a sunroom and a screened porch. The closest thing to a flaw is the kitchen cabinets, which look a bit dated, ’80s-ish, perhaps. The location is a block north of West Market Street at Madison and North Tremont.

In the past year and a half, there have been at least six Sunset Hills homes that have been sold for the first time in 35 years or more. One had last been sold in 1946. If you can afford to get into the neighborhood, it can be a hard place to leave.

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Want an Old House, To Go? A 1929 Cedar Street Foursquare Needs to be Moved, or It Will Be Torn Down

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429 S. Cedar Street: Take it away, and it’s yours.

From Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro:

The foursquare house at 429 North Cedar Street is available to someone who might want to move it. The structure has been relocated once before. It sits on a cinderblock foundation. Many original architectural features have been lost, but they can be re-created or re-imagined.

This would be a perfect opportunity for someone with an empty lot planning to build a new home or perhaps someone looking for an investment property. The house must be moved, and no supplementary grants have been identified to assist on relocation expenses or permits. Interested parties should be prepared to gather quotes/estimates to suit their budget and present a timeline by August 1 that includes removal of the house by September 1, 2018. Interested parties should contact Preservation Greensboro staff via email.

County property records show the house having four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It’s 2,347 square feet and was built in 1929. The tax appraisal of the house alone (without the land or outbuilding) is $68,900.

Classic House of the Week: 906 Olive Street and the Auction That Just Won’t End

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Update: Another upset bid was filed July 17; I think it’s the 10th, but I could have missed one or two. The current bid is $252,000. The outbid period will end on July 27, unless another upset bid is filed by then.

906 Olive Street is a nice little Fisher Park house. Built in 1938, it has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,938 square feet. It has a smallish front porch, gray shingle siding and a couple trees in the front yard. It’s a little on the modest side for Fisher Park. There have been a few more or less similar houses for sale in the neighborhood recently. It’s in foreclosure, also like a few others recently. Nice but not especially remarkable.

Except: It went up for auction on June 6, and, three weeks later, the auction is still going on. A bid was accepted on the 6th, and that’s usually how these things end (if anyone bothers to bid at all). Under North Carolina law, though, for the next 10 days, anyone with enough money can come along and make an upset bid at least five percent above the previous bid. So far, six upset bids have been filed. Each bid resets the 10-day clock. The latest bid was on June 22, so this thing will drag on into July (weekend days do count in the 10 days, but if the 10th day falls on a weekend or holiday, the upset period is extended to the next business day).

It’s easy to see why the bidders are scrambling. 908 Olive was last sold in 2006 for  $276,500. The would-be winning bid on June 6 was only $142,802, a terrific bargain for a nice little house in Fisher Park. A bargain too good to be true, as it turned out. The first upset bid was $150,000. The latest, by the original high bidder, is $191,467.50 ($99/square foot), still a very good price but not quite the steal it might have been.

If you’d like to take a shot at this one yourself, your bid will have to be at least $201,040.88, according to the court file. Roll on down to the Clerk of Court’s office (before anyone else does) with a certified check for five percent of your bid, and you’re in the game.  If you’re successful, though, be ready to pay the other 95 percent within 30 days. The court doesn’t wait around for mortgage applications to be approved.

Edgewood: Any day now

Edgewood 20180516_153034.jpgBB&T is readying Edgewood for sale. Crews have been trimming shrubs and undergrowth from the property this week, and some trees have been taken down or trimmed. And now a real estate agent’s sign has appeared at the curb of 111 Arden Place.

The stone mansion and 2.5-acre site in Sunset Hills date back to 1915. BB&T, apparently one of multiple lenders with money in the property, bought Edgewood in a foreclosure auction in January. The bank spent $770,000 to get it. Anyone who wants to save it is probably going to have to outbid developers who would tear the house down and squeeze in as many big, expensive new houses as they can. And in one of Greensboro’s most popular neighborhoods, no less. Once “For Sale” replaces “Coming Soon,” the outcome may not be far off.

Classic House of the Week: A Fine Example of 1920s Westerwood Elegance, $339,500

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Update: The house was listed for 30 days and then withdrawn. The owners now have put it up for rent again.

Westerwood is showcase for the qualities of early 20th-century homes. The neighborhood got started in the 1890s but didn’t take off until the 1920s. Its winding, tree-lined streets are a populated with a variety of beautifully designed Craftsman bungalows, Tudor Revival cottages and Colonial Revivals with the occasional mansion (Double Oaks) and now even a remarkable Mid-Century Modern home mixed in.

401 North Mendenhall Street is an excellent example of the neighborhood’s style. It came onto the market a week ago at $339,500. Built in 1926, it features an elegant, curved gable roof with a distinctive pair of dormers connected by two similar-sized windows. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, 2,337 square feet. That comes out to an optimistic $145 per square foot, toward the high end of the range of recent Westerwood home sales. It’s a finer home and in better shape than many that have been for sale recently, though, and it is priced lower than the $160/square foot being asked for a house across the street, which has been on the market for nine months.

The house appears to be in move-in condition (though the photos with the listing are surprisingly poor). The first floor has been opened up to create a large living room. It has updated bathrooms and an updated but almost rustic-styled kitchen. Well-placed trees at the corners of the front yard give the home some privacy from traffic on Mendenhall.

Surprisingly, the house isn’t owner-occupied. The owners appear to have lit out for the pleasures of golf-course living in a McMansion at Stoney Creek eight years ago. They’ve tried to sell 401 N. Mendenhall twice before, in 2011 ($329,000) and 2014 ($359,000). The market appears to be stronger than it was in those years, although the owners are aiming higher than many who have accepted offers recently just days after listing their homes.

realtor.com listing

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Classic House of the Week: A Distinctive 1927 Mansion in Sedgefield, $684,000

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For decades, High Point Road was a primary route between Greensboro and High Point. Anyone paying the least attention as they passed Sedgefield saw 3000 W. Sedgefield Drive, facing the road between streets leading into and out of the area. For many of the tens of thousands of drivers who passed it every day, it was about all they saw of Greensboro’s classic golf-course development.

Now, Gate City Boulevard has rerouted traffic away from that part of High Point Road, leaving a quiet little stretch cut off from everyone heading to or from Adams Farm, GTCC and High Point. And 3000 W. Sedgefield is for sale for $684,000. The house is far larger than it looks, 4,164 square feet, with four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. That comes to $164 per square foot, comparable to Sunset Hills and well below the typical Irving Park mansion.

The lot is 1.57 acres, considerably larger than is typical in those high-end neighborhoods (though not unusual in Sedgefield). More than half of the pictures with the listing show the grounds and the house’s killer feature: It’s not a swimming pool with a waterfall; it’s “a stone grotto formed with natural boulders surrounding a heated salt water pool.”

The house itself is open and elegant with beautiful woodwork, a nicely updated eat-in kitchen and posh bathrooms. If you can live without being on the golf course, it’s the epitome of Sedgefield in a tidy 4,164 square feet and 1.57 beautiful acres.

realtor.com listing

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Open House: Come Visit Hillside, the Julian Price House, and See Its Dazzling Restoration

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Hillside, unlike the other houses on this website, isn’t actually for sale. Its owners, Michael and Eric Fuko-Rizzo, bought the decrepit Fisher Park landmark in 2016 for $415,000. As they’ve invested what must be a breathtaking amount into resuscitating it, the project has gained a national following. Their determination and patience have been heroic, and the results are spectacular.

Over the past 18 months, Hillside, the Julian Price House, has been transformed from a head-shaking state of decay into a Designer Showhouse. Daily through Sunday April 29, you can visit the house and see Greensboro’s most dramatic historic-home rescue. The address is 301 Fisher Park Circle. Tickets for self-guided tours are $35 and are designated for specific time periods (10 a.m. to noon, noon to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Also, Michael and Eric lead a small-group tour daily at 5 p.m. ($75).

Hillside has become nationally known since the house and its previous owner were featured on the A&E Network’s “Hoarders” in January 2017 (click here to see it; you’ll have to log in with a cable customer account). The home’s Facebook page has 28,000 followers. The showhouse opened last weekend, and visitors have come from as far away as Arizona, Michigan, New York and Florida.

Eighteen designers were recruited from around the country, including the renowned Bunny Williams of New York, prominent local designers and a team of interior design students from UNCG. Built in 1929, the home has 31 rooms and 7,200 square feet of space. It was built by Julian and Ethel Price and designed by Charles C. Hartmann, whom Julian Price persuaded to move to Greensboro to design the Jefferson-Standard building for him. The house is unusually linear, one room deep essentially from the veranda and sun parlor on one end to the kitchen and solarium on the other. The layout gives the house an unexpectedly intimate atmosphere as one room flows into the next.

The restoration has brought out a wealth of historic detail. The drawing-room ceiling and fireplace surround are almost works of art in themselves. The elegant light fixture over the curving staircase, originally from the home of Ethel Price’s mother in France, exemplifies the glamor of the period. The bathrooms have their original tile and fixtures, the original door and window hardware has been strikingly cleaned, and the ceramic-tile roof was hand-cleaned by one of the owners. Even the tiny telephone closet off the entry foyer has been given a high-style makeover.

The Tudor Revival home is a landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a Guilford County landmark. After the tours end on April 29, Hillside will become the home of Michael and Eric and their three-year-old twin daughters.

The showhouse benefits Preservation Greensboro, which, through the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund, was instrumental in saving the home from demolition. Local designer Linda Lane, a member of Preservation Greensboro’s board, was project manager.

Photos are from the Hillside Facebook page, except for the drawing room and the roof.

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Louise Price Parsons, the last of the Prices to live in Hillside, with homeowners Michael (left) and Eric Fuko-Rizzo

 

Classic Homes of the Week: 2 Mid-Century Modern Houses at Opposite Ends of the Price Spectrum

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1611 Longfellow Street in O. Henry Oaks, a modest little Mid-Century Modern classic

[Update: 1611 Longfellow sold for $95,000, a $6,000 premium to its asking price, on May 15, 2018. 105 Falkener Drive sold for $312,000 on August 13, 2018.]

Most people tend to think of Mid-Century Modern as a high-end home style with exalted prices, found in exclusive neighborhoods like Irving Park and Hamilton Lakes. That’s often true, but not always. Two mid-century modern homes have come up for sale in Greensboro recently, and one does fit that profile. The other certainly doesn’t.

Every now and then you find a smaller, more basic Mid-Century Modern home in an affordable neighborhood. 1611 Longfellow Drive is an excellent example. Built in 1956, it has three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms, 1,175 square feet. It came on the market at $89,900, $77 per square foot, last week (the day after I posted a blog entry about classic starter homes — this would have been a great one to include). It’s in O. Henry Oaks in east Greensboro, a nice 1950s neighborhood of brick homes.

It has the classic mid-century look — horizontal, angular, unadorned (look at those floors, though) — but it’s simpler architecturally and smaller than the high-end masterpieces that get so much attention (well deserved). The N.C. Modernist website suggests the design may have come from a plan book.

It’s by far the most interesting house for sale under $100,000 right now.

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Meanwhile, in another part of town …

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105 Falkener Drive in Hamilton Lakes, the rich cousin of 1611 Longfellow

… there’s 105 Falkener Drive in Hamilton Lakes, also relatively new on the market. It’s priced at $357,000. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms — not that much different from 1611 Longfellow, so far — but more than twice the size (2,574 square feet) and on a much larger, wooded lot. Built in 1958, it started out as a more luxurious house, and it’s been suitably renovated by the current owners. As high-end homes go, it’s a good buy at $137 per square foot.

Mid-Century Modern is not for everyone. A lot of people don’t find it especially comfortable, cozy or homey. It’s an aesthetic for people who think in terms of aesthetics. That’s why there were thousands of brick ranches and split-levels built in the ’50s and ’60s for every Mid-Century home. But if the style suits you, Greensboro is a good place to find it, and not just at the high end.

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Greensboro’s Views Reflect National Shift Toward Walkable, Mixed-Use Neighborhoods

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Greensboro’s older neighborhoods are very popular. That’s easy to see from the prices their homes sell for and, in many cases, how quickly they sell. As part of its update of the city’s comprehensive plan, the Greensboro Planning Department commissioned a survey that at least partly tells why: A lot of people like walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. That description that matches Fisher Park, College Hill, Lindley Park, Sunset Hills, the Asheboro Community, Glenwood and other older neighborhoods where stores, churches, parks, apartments, etc., exist amid the houses.

Background on the survey from Sue Schwartz, city planning director:

The National Association of Realtors conducts a biannual Community and Transportation Preference Survey in the 50 largest U.S. cities, most recently in 2017. Recently, the surveys have shown a strong shift favoring walkable, mixed-use communities. To see whether that’s true here, the Planning Department teamed with Nick Scarci of the Greater Greensboro Realtors Association and received a grant from NAR to conduct the same survey on the local level (methodology below).  This is the first time the NAR has done a survey for an individual city, so way to go, Sue Schwartz.

Walkable Neighborhoods and Quality of Life

If you love colorful charts and graphs, click here to see the results (PDF). Some notable findings:

  • In general, people in Greensboro are very satisfied with their quality of life. The vast majority (9 in 10) of residents are either very or somewhat satisfied, with nearly half of all residents saying they are very satisfied.
    • These satisfaction numbers are higher than for Americans in the top 50 MSAs, especially when it comes to being very satisfied: 46 percent are very satisfied in Greensboro compared to 37 percent in metropolitan areas throughout the country.
  • The more walkable the neighborhood, the more satisfied residents are with their quality of life (see chart above).
  • Over half of Greensboro residents prefer homes in walkable neighborhoods with small yards.
  • Three-quarters of Greensboro residents live in houses – attached or detached – compared to two-thirds in the top 50 MSAs.

[Editorial comment: Greensboro’s home-ownership rate of 50 percent is well below the national average of 63 percent, suggesting more renters in Greensboro than other cities rent houses rather than apartments. And that probably makes buying a less expensive or starter home here even more difficult than it tends to be anyway.]

  • While Greensboro residents echo the national results in their top priorities, certain elements are much more important to people here.
    • Two-thirds say sidewalks and places to take walks are very important in deciding where to live, compared to half of national respondents.
    • Being close to highways and within a short commute to work is also very important to over half of Greensboro residents.
  • Older Greensboro residents (Gen Xers and Boomers) are more likely to prefer homes with smaller yards and more walkable neighborhoods.
  • Millennials are split in their preference between such neighborhoods and those with larger yards and more driving.
  • Women and those without kids at home are more likely to prefer small yards in walkable neighborhoods. Men and those with kids at home are split.
  • There are also a lot of good data about transportation, mass transit, etc., which is another matter entirely.

American Strategies, the firm that does the national survey, conducted Greensboro’s. It was done from November 13-20, 2017, and reached 410 adult residents of Greensboro, ages 18 or older. The city’s Planning Department will use the data in the update of Connections 2015, Greensboro’s comprehensive plan.

Update on 111 Arden Place: BB&T Is Preparing to Put Edgewood Up For Sale

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Information from attorney Craig Taylor, immediate past president of Preservation Greensboro:

“On Monday I spoke to a person in BB&T’s bank-owned properties group about 111 Arden Place. As I suspected, the house was involved in a complicated legal situation, and BB&T has been working to satisfy all the creditors who had lien rights on the house. Apparently that process is almost complete.

“In the next week or so, the property will be transferred into the inventory of the asset resolution group. This group will engage a local real estate agent and other professionals to inspect the property and determine a marketing plan. The BB&T representative said they are very aware of the high profile nature of this property and that they already have a significant list of BB&T clients who want to be notified when the house goes on the market. She was not in a position to comment on how they would market the property since the process has not fully begun.”

If you’re coming in late on this, Edgewood is a 5,200 square-foot stone mansion, built in 1915 on 2.26 acres in Sunset Hills. BB&T bought it in a foreclosure auction in January for $770,000. 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. It apparently needs a lot of work.

If you’re interested in buying Edgewood, get ready to move fast.

Housing Summit 2018: Housing Builds Our Economy

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From the Greensboro Housing Coalition:

Deteriorating neighborhoods and lack of affordable stable housing negatively impact education, economic development, and the quality of life we all want. About one in every four Greensboro households is struggling to have a place to live. Some are on the streets, some in homeless shelters. More are “staying” in crowded spaces with friends or relatives. Most of those struggling households that do have homes are paying more than a third of their meager incomes to rent places that sometimes make them sick.

Our annual housing summit builds momentum around the vision of safe affordable housing. We come together annually to educate and inspire. And we challenge each other to substantially increase housing options (policy changes and increased resources for repairing and building different kinds of apartments and houses), to support people accessing and maintaining housing (such as tenant education and rental assistance), and to promote collaboration among leadership. We all come together to transform community knowledge and attitudes to support affordable housing.

This year’s speakers:

  • Gov. Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, and former governor of Maryland;
  • Hershel Lipow, community relations expert in the Compliance and Community Affairs Department of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; and
  • Dr. Jeremy Bray, chair of the Department of Economics at the UNCG Bryan School of Business and Economics.
  • The moderator will be Jeff Thigpen, Guilford County register of deeds.

The summit brings together the Greensboro Housing Coalition, City of Greensboro, HUD, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and other organizations.

Click here for more information or to register.

711 Sunset Drive: The Joseph & Kathleen Bryan House Is For Sale for the First Time Since It Was New in 1935

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Update March 12, 2018: The house was on the market for four days before an offer of $1.655 million was accepted. The sale closed March 12, 2018. 

Joseph and Kathleen Bryan bought a brand-new home in Irving Park in 1935, and now it’s on the market for the first time in 83 years. The 6,000 square-foot house was listed today at $1.675 million.

Bryan left the home to the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation when he died in 1995. The foundation leased it to UNCG for use as the chancellor’s residence until the university recently bought the new guy a McMansion at 15 Clubview Court near the Starmount Forest Country Club.

The Bryan home sits on almost an acre of prime Irving Park real estate (the tax value of the land alone is $650,000).  It has four bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. To serve as the chancellor’s residence, the kitchen was renovated with entertaining in mind. A 20-by-27 foot great room and a 16-by-28 living room can hold quite a crowd, as can the large backyard patio. The wine cellar is pretty spacious as well. The property also includes a three-car garage.

The house was designed by Charles C. Hartmann, whose many Greensboro projects include about 20 homes, the Jefferson-Standard Building, the F.W. Woolworth store that now houses the International Civil Rights Museum and Dudley High School.

Agency listing

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Following up on 111 Arden Place: BB&T Has Bought the Property at Auction

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Photo courtesy of Preservation Greensboro

BB&T has bought Edgewood, the mansion and 2.26-acre property at 111 Arden Place. It paid $770,000 in an auction at the Guilford County Courthouse on Tuesday. Their plans for the property are unknown; their representative at the auction works for a law firm and didn’t know. I’ve asked the bank and hope to hear back soon.

Sunset Hills neighbors have said online that they believe restoring the house and property would require an immense investment beyond the purchase price. One neighbor expressed the opinion that the swimming pool is too deteriorated to be saved.

In any case, it seems unlikely that BB&T will do anything other than sell Edgewood again.

BB&T first became involved with the property nine years ago. According to the latest deed on the property, BB&T Collateral Services provided a loan to the owners in July 2008. In 2015, it sold the debt to SummitBridge National Investments IV of New York.  SummitBridge foreclosed on the property and then bought it in February 2017. It paid $175,000. And now it has sold it to BB&T for $770,000. If anyone can make sense of all that, please leave a comment below.

On Wednesday, the bidding started at $460,765 and shot up quickly from there. Another bidder, an individual who wanted to renovate the house and either live there or sell it, stayed with BB&T as far as he could go but had to stop at $750,000. An unusually large crowd of about 25 people attended the auction.

Minimum Upset Bid: $808,500

Under North Carolina law, the sale remains open for 10 days to allow upset bids to be placed with the Clerk of Superior Court. Such bids must be at least five percent higher than the winning bid. In this case, that would total $808,500. An upset bid would trigger another 10-day upset period, allowing the auction to continue in slow motion.

No Rezoning Required for Redevelopment

Contrary to some neighbors’ expectations, a buyer who wants to redevelop the property wouldn’t necessarily need to get it rezoned. Its old RS-9 zoning is reclassified as R-5 in the new Land Development Ordinance. That zoning allows up to five single-family units per acre; in this case, that would mean theoretically up to 11 homes. The actual number allowed might well be less because any subdivision of the property would have to meet city requirements on minimum lot size and street frontage (and possibly more; those were two points mentioned by zoning director Mike Kirkman when I asked him about it today).

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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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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