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).
“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.
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.
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.
Update: The house sold for $228,000 on November 1, 2017.
409 Westdale Place sits off the beaten track (Walker Avenue) in an unusual little corner of Lindley Park. The street runs one block from Walker north, ending just before it reaches South Lindell Road, so there’s no through traffic. The owners of 409 Westdale also own the undeveloped lot on Longview Street immediately behind their house, which is included in the sale (several neighbors on Westdale also own the undeveloped Longview lots behind their houses). It’s an interesting little spot.
So, a buyer will get a classic Lindley Park home on a deep double lot for $245,000, a reasonable price for one of the hottest neighborhoods in Greensboro this year. The house is an elegantly simple brick bungalow with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,720 square feet (the price works out to $142 per square foot). The interior features such period touches as arched doorways and built-in shelves and cabinets in the living room. It appears to be in 100 percent move-in condition.
Classic homes in Lindley Park have sold for $174 per square foot down to $116 this year. Only three have sold below $142, so 409 Westdale is a relative bargain. It has been on the market for about three weeks. The way older homes have moved in Lindley Park this season, you wouldn’t expect this one to be available much longer.
Update: The house sold for its asking price, $429,900, on August 30, 2017. It had been for sale for seven days when the owners accepted the offer.
Owners of classic homes in Lindley Park, Sunset Hills and Westerwood are getting the message that this is a good year to sell their homes. Five have gone up for sale in the three neighborhoods this month, and there have been 11 closings since June 1. Fast deals are common. Offers were accepted in a week or less on five houses currently under contract.
One of the latest to come onto the market is 1907 Madison Avenue in Sunset Hills, a distinctive 1928 brick bungalow. The exterior features arched brickwork over the windows and a low brick wall around a front patio. It’s roomier than it may look from the street — 3,118 square feet with five bedrooms and three full bathrooms. It sits on a quarter-acre lot that easily accommodates the detached two-car garage.
The listing price is $429,900, $139 per square foot. That’s right on target for an immaculate home in one of Greensboro’s most popular older neighborhoods.
1907 Madison’s owners have had the house since 1974 (four of the classic homes now for sale in the neighborhoods haven’t been sold since the ’70s). It’s one of the most elegant classic homes you’ll find in Greensboro.
200 E. Bessemer is an unusual opportunity: Used as offices for the past 20 years or so, it’s being marketed as either a residence or offices. Converting it back to a home would be relatively easy, as it was never divided up or altered significantly from its days as a residence, aside from the back yard being paved. The property is zoned for office use, which allows it to be used as a residence.
The house went on the market this week at $410,000, a reasonable $145 per square foot. It’s known as both the Avalon Center and the A.J. Schlosser House. Built in 1920, it has three bedrooms and a bath and a half. It features two fireplaces with their original tile and mantels, unpainted woodwork, three sun porches (one off the master bedroom) and a relatively new slate roof (installed in 2000). A backyard garage has been converted into a one-room studio. The main house has exterior lighting and an HVAC system with electrostatic air filtration. The front yard has a sprinkler system. The owner clearly has taken good care of the house.
It’s hard to miss — an imposing two-story granite house, sitting in a prominent location at East Bessemer and Magnolia Street. Arched stonework decorates the front door and first-floor windows. The driveway passes through a portico on its way back to the studio.
The house is in the Fisher Park Historic District. The block is a mix of residences and houses converted to office use. The Craftsman house next door, 208 E. Bessemer, also went on the market this week; that one is for sale only as office space. Across the street are two grand old 1924 apartment houses, the Fairfax and the Shirley.
Update: The house sold for $60,000 on July 7, 2017, one month after it went on the market. After a thorough renovation, the house sold for $250,000 on September 11, 2019. It had been listed for $242,000.
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 walk-through 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.
3215 N. Rockingham Road is an English manor house in Sedgefield. It even has a name, Ayrshire. There probably aren’t many English manor houses built on golf courses, but, still, you could easily see DCI Barnaby or Miss Marple knocking on the door to ask the lord about a mysterious death in the village.
Ayrshire is for sale at $2.9 million. A 1935 Cotswold Tudor, its 10,000-plus square feet contain four bedrooms, four full baths and three half baths, plus dining room, den, library, sunroom with a bar, stone terraces, etc. The lot is 2.88 acres, backing up to Sedgefield’s Donald Ross golf course.
The interior features butterfly pegged floors, wood and plaster moldings, leaded glass windows, solid wood beams, and a marble wall fountain in the main hall. A breezeway connects the house to its garages, two-bedroom guest quarters and herb garden. A magazine article some years ago details its interior design and the extravagant sourcing of its reclaimed stone and wooden beams.
Ayrshire has been on the market for a year and a half. It previously was listed in 2011 and 2012 for $3.75 million. Its current price of $2.9 million, $271/square foot, isn’t quite as extravagant as the property itself. There are any number of smaller properties with higher prices on a square-foot basis.
There isn’t a classier residence in a classier neighborhood in Greensboro. Then again, there isn’t one with a higher price tag, either. It’s the most expensive property currently for sale in Greensboro.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Sedgefieldis 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.
Greensboro homebuyers looking for the character and quality of older homes no longer have to search through the hundreds of McMansions and subdivision homes in MLS or Zillow listings to find the classic homes they seek.
GSOHistoricHomes.com brings together real estate listings for pre-1950 homes in Greensboro’s three historic districts, vintage neighborhoods, and the smaller towns and communities in Guilford County.
Highlights of current listings range from an 1852 home on the National Register of Historic Places and a $2.9 million 1935 mansion to affordable fixer-uppers suitable for first-time home buyers.
In addition to Greensboro’s three historic districts — College Hill, Fisher Park and Summit Avenue/Charles B. Aycock — the site includes pages for the classic neighborhoods of Irving Park, Lindley Park, Sedgefield, Sunset Hills and Westerwood. Listings are also included for older homes in other neighborhoods throughout the city. Current listings feature homes in the Asheboro Community, Clinton Heights, Glenwood, Lake Daniel, Latham Park and Southmont neighborhoods.
In Guilford County’s smaller towns and communities, many older homes come with acreage. Listings on the site now include homes in Gibsonville, Julian, Monticello, Pleasant Garden, Sedalia and Whitsett.
Listings are drawn from a variety of sources. Listing agents are encouraged to email their listings of pre-1950 homes in Greensboro and Guilford County to the website. There is no charge to be listed.