Update: The listing was withdrawn October 25, 2019.
It’s often hard to know exactly what you’re seeing just from the for-sale listings of houses that need renovation. From the foundation to the roof, there’s no telling what trouble awaits until you get a thorough inspection. With that in mind, take a look at 3311 Oak Ridge Road in Summerfield.
Yikes. Nothing subtle about Issue No. 1. Aside from the nightmarish vegetation, though, this stately old place doesn’t look so bad. It was built in 1885 and has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,148 square feet. The lot is 1.2 acres. The few rooms shown in the poor photos with the listing do suggest the house could use some work, though who knows what the rest of it looks like. It’s on the west side of Summerfield toward Oak Ridge.
At $165,000, the price comes out to $77 per square foot, which is toward the high end of the scale for a house that needs substantial renovation unless the electrical, plumbing, foundation, etc., are OK and you’re looking for a house to make your own in one of Guilford County’s more upscale little towns.
It would be hard to find a prettier old farmhouse than 4909 Oldway Road. Set on four acres just off U.S. 29 North near Browns Summit, it’s on the market for $390,000. It has been for sale for more than two years, a remarkable length of time considering the fine condition of the house and property. Buyers may be put off by the proximity to the highway — it’s right at the N.C. 150 exit — but someone is going to get over that and get a pretty good price on a very nice place.
The house has three bedrooms and two and a half baths, 2,952 square feet ($149 per square foot). The property includes the house, built in 1916, a barn and a workshop. About three acres are fenced. The house itself is in beautiful condition, judging from the photos with the listing — a modern kitchen and bathrooms, beautiful hardwood floors and unpainted woodwork. The current decor may be a little busy visually — the combination of patterned carpets, furniture and wallpaper gets intense in some rooms — but that’s no big deal (unless your furniture and carpets look just like theirs).
What does seem to be a big deal is the highway. That’s all I see that would discourage a buyer. I’ve driven around the property, and it doesn’t seem such a bad location (though, admittedly, that’s easy for me to say since I’m not thinking about buying the place). The price has come down to $390,000 from $525,000 originally, when it included an additional two-acre lot that has been sold separately. Somebody is going to look at that price, a beautiful house and very nice acreage and see a sweet deal.
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.
The historic Dr. Joseph McLean House in Sedalia has become one of the most affordable National Register homes you’re likely to find. The well preserved house has been on the market since February, most recently with 18-plus acres for $359,000. Now, the house and just 1.5+/- acres are available for $150,000. The rest of the acreage is still available with the house or separately. (The owner also is selling another 52-acre parcel nearby.)
The Greek Revival house has three bedrooms and one bathroom. It measures 2,040 square feet. It needs some work, but a new owner wouldn’t necessarily be taking on a major renovation. A walk-through this week showed the house is livable now. The exterior needs cosmetic work. On the interior, some of the rooms need painting, and the floors need refinishing. The kitchen and bathroom would benefit from updating, but they’re usable as they are. With a little creative thinking, a second bathroom might be added upstairs (preservation specialists with the the State Historic Preservation Office can provide assistance). The address is 6069 Burlington Road (U.S. Highway 70), in eastern Guilford County.
The McLean House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. It took its present form around 1850.(Guilford County property records date the house at 1852; the National Register nomination is less specific.)
Dr. McLean was a physician, member of the state Legislature and all-around prominent citizen; the nearby town of McLeansville was named for him. The property had been owned by his wife’s family, the Whartons, since the 1830s.
“Apparently the house originated as a two-story log structure encompassing the current east rooms and center hall, where deep window and door casings reflect the log construction,” the National Register nomination states. “Around 1850 the dwelling substantially achieved its current appearance when it was overbuilt and enlarged with frame construction as the two-story, one-room-deep main block that is three bays wide, sheathed in plain weatherboarding, and covered by a low-pitched gable roof. The vast majority of the weatherboards are original and all are painted white.” (The nomination was written more than 20 years ago, so the extent to which the original weatherboards are still there would need to be confirmed.)
The house has remained in the McLean family until now. The current owner, Dr. John McLean, lives in Massachusetts. The family has largely maintained the home’s historic characteristics. “Overall, the Dr. Joseph A. McLean House retains a high degree of integrity,” the National Register form states. “The dwelling is particularly noteworthy due to the preservation of its interior finish as well as its plan. With the exception of the modernization of the north ell room as a kitchen around 1965, the interior is remarkably unaltered.” Two historic outbuildings stand close to the house.
The previous listing for the house and acreage described it as having “potential for agritourism, SFR [single-family residential], or mixed-use/PUD [planned unit development] development.” The acreage has been envisioned as a subdevelopment for more than 20 years (the National Register nomination mentions it). Perhaps selling the house separately, and at a remarkably reasonable price, will allow this well-preserved piece of local history a better chance of survival.
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.
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).
4909 Guilford College Road is the last of its contemporaries, if there were any. When it was built in 1908, it may have been alone out there, closer to Jamestown than Greensboro, surrounded by woods and maybe some farmland. Today, the area is a mix of ’60s and ’70s subdivisions, a church built just a few years ago and patches of undeveloped land, some of them quite large. Grandover is nearby, as is Business 85.
Insulated a bit by its partially wooded, 2 acre-plus lot, 4909 Guilford College Road is a quaint little gem. Listed at $189,800, the house has three bedrooms, one full bathroom and a half bath. Square footage is 2,186, so the price comes out to a modest $87 per square foot. The property includes a separate workshop with a bonus room and a barn.
You can’t see the house itself from the road, screened by trees and vegetation. The living room has a bay window. The kitchen has a fireplace. It has six fireplaces; one has a gorgeous mantel. Judging from the photos in the realtor.com listing, some of the rooms need painting and other cosmetic work, but the kitchen and bathrooms look to be in pretty good shape.
The property was owned by one family from 1961 until 2009, when it was bought by the current owner.
The William G. Wiley House at 4909 Vickrey Chapel Road in Jamestown is a classic example of a mail-order house, dating back to 1908. It needs a buyer soon or it will be torn down.
The house was bought from Radford American Homes, a mail-order company based in Illinois. The cost was $1,800, plus $1 for the catalog and $5 for the plans. The plans showed a one-and-a-half story clapboarded house with a sweeping pitched cross-gable roof, a dormer window, wrap-around porch with turned posts, and a south-facing bay window. An elaborate lightning grounding system was added around 1913, and pressed metal shingles were added around 1918.
The grounds include many outbuildings, including a smokehouse, garage, shop, horse barn and shed, and two privies. There also is a well house with basement potato cellar.
The well-preserved site maintains an important link to early 20th century rural life in Guilford County, and it illustrates the influence of national catalog and building supply companies. Guilford County has designated it as a landmark property in 1993. That status confers a property tax credit of up to 50 percent.
For more information about buying the Wiley House, contact Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro, 336-272-5003. h/t to Benjamin for providing the information on the house.