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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Historic House of the Week: A 1790 Federal-Style Mansion in Caswell County on the National Register

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The Moore-Gwyn-Ewalt House and its 200 acres are now listed for sale at $1.75 million.

The counties surrounding Guilford have seen plenty of history, Caswell in particular. In the early decades of the nation’s history, Caswell was one of the state’s most prosperous and prominent counties, but, long beyond living memory, its fortunes crashed. Now, about all that’s left of its glory years are some truly impressive houses, scattered here and there from Camp Springs and Cherry Grove up to Milton and Semora.

national-register-plaque transparent.fw.pngThe Moore-Gwyn-Ewalt House in the Locust Hill area is a beautiful example of Caswell’s past — 6,226 square feet of Federal-style elegance on 200 unspoiled acres. The house was built in 1790; considerable square footage is in the form of two well-designed wings built in 1995. It was listed June 1 at $1.75 million. The address is 5869 U.S. Highway 158. Situated southwest of Yanceyville and close to N.C. 150, it’s within a relatively easy commute to Greensboro.

“The severe exterior appearance of the Moore House contrasts with the rich Federal motifs which appear throughout the interior,” the National Register nomination states. “The treatment of the raised basement of the Moore House as a visually integral feature of the structure by means of matching exterior architectural detail is atypical of Caswell County and is one of the major factors in the imposing appearance of the house. The Moore House is one of the best preserved and most handsome houses of the Federal era in the northern Piedmont of North Carolina.”

The house sits well back from the road. It has four bedrooms and three full and two half bathrooms. There are nine fireplaces, eight wood-burning and one with gas logs. The beautiful moldings and mantels are well displayed in the listing’s photos, several of which are below. The property includes formal boxwood gardens, a fenced garden, a pool and a pond. Near the house, a screened-in summer house stands between the two fireplaces of the original detached kitchen, which burned in 1942. An early 19th-century saddlebag cabin, originally slave quarters, serves as a guesthouse. The 1995 additions by the current owners were built with the approval of Preservation North Carolina, which holds a preservation easement on the house.

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Annie

The property was listed to the National Register in 1973 through the efforts of then-owner Miss Annie Yancey Gwynn. According to the nomination, tobacco planter Samuel Moore bought the land in 1785, and the house is believed to have been built around 1790. Moore at one time owned at least 1,000 acres in the area. Although the real-estate listing notes the local lore of the house possibly having been designed by Thomas Jefferson, the National Register nomination doesn’t mention him (spoil-sport historians).

In the 1850s, the property was owned by George Swepson, son-in-law of Bartlett Yancey, one of the grand figures in Caswell’s history. (Swepson later became a Reconstruction-era bigshot and namesake of Swepsonville in Alamance County, where he built a textile mill. Sadly, he came to ruin in a railroad-bond scandal.)

Rufus Stamps bought the property from Swepson in 1858, and it remained in his family until 1942, when Annie bought it. The house hadn’t been lived in for 25 years and was being used as a barn. She restored it and got it onto the National Register. She lived there for many years; she died in 1985 at age 94, God bless her.

Annie was born in Caswell County in 1891 and attended Greensboro Female College, now Greensboro College (her last name is sometimes reported as “Gwyn”; although her middle name was Yancey, I couldn’t find any genealogical connection between her and Bartlett Yancey). She worked as a school teacher and then trained as a nurse. Annie served as an Army nurse in France during World War I and later worked as a nurse in Washington.

“On a visit to Caswell County in 1942 she bought a 179-year-old house that had been her ‘dream house’ since early childhood,” according to The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, edited by Jeannine D. Whitlow. “The house was then almost in ruins. Much work was needed to restore the old Moore-Gwyn House.

“Upon retirement from nursing, Annie Yancey Gwyn came back to her native Caswell County and her ‘dream house’ and with vigor and vitality she started the task of creating a home out of the ancient ‘crone’ of a house. With some hired help she attacked the jungle of weeds and honeysuckles, mountains of junk, and started restoring the three story old brick house and the tenant houses. After many years of hard work and tender loving care she made a monument of beauty and memories from a scrap pile.”

North Carolina Estates listing
National Register nomination

Special thanks to caswellcountync.org and Harry Branch of North Carolina Estates.

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The Moore House around 1973

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The summer house stands where the original kitchen was. The detached kitchen burned, leaving only the two fireplaces.

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The guesthouse is an 18th-century saddlebag cabin that served as slave quarters.

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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: Greensboro’s Historic Garden Estate Miramichi Nears Century Mark

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Photos courtesy of Preservation Greensboro

The 32-acre Miramichi estate in Greensboro is for sale for $750,000. Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro, writes about the history of the property and its creators on the Preservation Greensboro website:

Many of the region’s great gardens began as private rural estates that were away from the distractions and distresses of city life. Reynolda House for the Reynolds family of Winston Salem (1917), Cason and Virginia Callaway’s garden in Pine Mountain, Ga. (1952), and Lewis Ginter’s Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va. (1984), are all examples of early private gardens that grew to become major public destinations.

Located at 1415 Kellenberger Road in southeast Greensboro, Miramichi is an early private botanical garden with charms and character cultivated by a notable North Carolina couple, May and J.A. “Kell” Kellenberger. Begun in 1920, the estate remains a privately owned garden and was never expanded as a public tourist destination. It represents an unusual glimpse into the earliest period of twentieth century botanical gardens of the region. …

The estate covers 32 acres and is centered upon a one-and-a-half-story log house. The structure is thought to date from 1835 and features V-notch corner-timber details, a stone chimney, and front porch. The structure was the Kellenbergers’ home, and it was heavily altered in the 1920s when they added a half-story and a rear addition that provided a kitchen and library. A later expansion brought more rooms into the house and expanded its footprint to the east. As a restoration project, the home represents one of the earliest examples of historic preservation in the city.

Though the house is charming, the estate is most notable for its landscape – a sophisticated but informally landscaped park. A north-flowing stream bisects the property, and the grounds consist of native woodlands and open lawns, complemented by evergreens, wisteria, and periwinkle. Mature specimen trees such as tamaracks, cypress, and hemlocks are complemented with boxwoods, azaleas and an extensive stand of bamboo to define different areas of the estate’s gardens.

Man-made elements of the estate complement natural features. They include stone-lined spring basins of local fieldstone with a bench, a curvilinear pool with a spillway, and a cement lap pool. Larger structures include a dam created around 1915, a picnic structure of cedar logs topped with a hipped roofline, a two-story boathouse with a viewing deck, and an outdoor picnic area with fieldstone chimney. Currently, the lake is drained, and elements of the gardens have fallen into disrepair.

The estate, including its house, outbuildings, recreation-associated structures, and naturalized landscaping, conjures the imaginative sprit of the Kellenbergers and their ambitious plans for a relaxed country lifestyle between 1921 to 1944. The Kellenberger Estate is significant for its landscape architecture as a rare survivor of a series of comparable rural estates that have stood in Guilford County, ranging from the Jefferson Club off New Garden Road to the Twin Lakes Lodge in southwest Greensboro and Katydid Mill just a half mile south on McConnell Road. The property remains today one of Greensboro’s hidden treasures – a well-preserved historical garden representing the early botanical interests of the Kellenbergers as they sought to cultivate a richly landscaped setting as a focus of regional interest and enjoyment.

The Kellenberger Estate Miramichi was inscribed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The gardens have not enjoyed constant care and management over the past several years, but a careful management plan could see the grounds revived to their original spectacular setting for garden events and tours. The property is currently for sale.

Benjamin Briggs’s complete account of the history of Miramichi and the Kellenbergers

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

Greensboro’s three historic districts are hot properties this spring. If you’re interested in a classic home in College Hill, Dunleath or Fisher Park, you better be ready to move fast. The most recent Dunleath listing, for example, 615 Percy Street, was on the market just two days before the owner accepted an offer.

Here are three of the best homes for sale now in Greensboro’s most historic neighborhoods.

107 S. Mendenhall Street,
College Hill Historic District

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

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

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

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

zillow.com listing

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207 E. Hendrix Street,
Fisher Park Historic District

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

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

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

realtor.com listing

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805 5th Avenue,
Historic Dunleath

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

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

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

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

realtor.com listing

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

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

Update: 818 Fifth Avenue sold for its asking price, $119,900, on May 25, 2018.

Not every classic home is expensive. Older homes that could be considered starter homes come on the market often. The tough part is getting them before Greensboro’s voracious landlords can grab them. Starter homes have been in especially high demand so far this year.

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

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

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1521 Rankin Road

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

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

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715 Burlington Avenue, Gibsonville

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

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

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

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

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

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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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
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  • $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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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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409 Westdale Place: A hidden 1939 gem in Lindley Park

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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.

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409 Westdale is highlighted; the lot immediately behind it is included in the sale. For some reason, Longview Street was never cut through from Walker northward to Wright Avenue and Fry Street, even though it picks up again at Fry and lots were laid out all the way through. Just how an entire block in Lindley Park came to be undeveloped is a real puzzle.

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The backyard extends all the way through the trees to where Longview Street would be if had been extended from Walker Avenue to Fry Street.

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1907 Madison Avenue: A Sunset Hills Classic for Sale After 43 Years

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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.

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200 E. Bessemer Avenue: A Grand Fisher Park House That Could Become a Home Again

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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.

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1033 Pearson Street: A Classic 1946 Brick Bungalow in the Asheboro Community

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Update: The house sold for $86,500 on August 15, 2017

1033 Pearson Street may be the most attractive older house for sale now in south Greensboro. It was built in 1946, a little later than most in the Asheboro Community. It features brick arches on the front porch and a nicely renovated interior. The house was one of the many cited in the neighborhood’s successful nomination for the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 (listed under the neighborhood’s previous name, South Greensboro).

1033 pearson street front door.jpgThe house is for sale for $89,500. An offer was accepted almost immediately after the house went on the market in May, but it fell through. The house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. With 1,232 square feet, its price comes out to just $71 per square foot. The interior maintains its lovely period features, such as arched doorways and a breakfast nook.

The Asheboro Community was built out mostly from the 1860’s through the 1920s. It was a more middle-class neighborhood than Fisher Park or Irving Park, but the houses included imposing Queen Annes amid the bungalows. Many of the older homes, large and small, are still standing. Like some other prosperous Greensboro neighborhoods of its era, such as College Hill and Dunleith, the neighborhood suffered mightily during the Depression and the decades that followed. Today, renovations are underway on at least one grand old house on Pearson Street, although others are still boarded up or decaying with absentee ownership. Overall, the area shows early signs of a renaissance. If 1033 Pearson is bought to be owner occupied rather than a rental, it will be another step forward.

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507 Park Avenue: A 1915 fixer-upper in the Dunleath Historic District, open Saturday

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Update: The house sold for $60,000 on July 7, 2017, one month after it went on the market.

507 Park Avenue looks like the best opportunity in Greensboro right now for a buyer who wants to give a historic home a thorough restoration. While the Zillow listing has no interior photos, it includes a quick video walkthrough that provides a good idea of its condition (screenshots below).

The Craftsman bungalow is for sale at $79,900, a price definitely down in the fixer-upper range for a home in the Dunleath Historic District (remember, it’s Dunleath now, not Aycock). It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and either 1,637 square feet (county records) or 2,131 (Zillow). It has been owned by one family since 1961.

The house is easily identified by its distinctive front porch, with double columns atop tall brick pillars, and a dormer with somewhat cramped-looking windows. The front yard is in good shape, especially if you love shrubs. A double concrete-strip driveway leads to a backyard garage. Also behind the house are a brick fireplace, clothes line and a small shed. The video indicates the interior isn’t awful but does need a thorough renovation. The listing says it has central air conditioning, but there are a couple window air conditioners as well.

507 Park went on the market Wednesday. If this is the kind of opportunity you’re looking for, get over there Saturday and take a look. Very few properties are for sale in Greensboro’s historic districts this spring, and this looks to be the best renovation candidate on the market.

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603 N. Church Street: A 1914 Craftsman Gem in Fisher Park

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Update: The house sold for $250,000 on July 31, 2017.

603 N. Church is the most intriguing home for sale in Greensboro’s historic districts. It’s a striking house — you don’t often see a granite Craftsman — set well back on its lot, which is not uncommon in Fisher Park.

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OK, it needs some cosmetic work.

It’s on the market for $275,000. Built in 1914, the house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an attached studio apartment. There’s a deep, tiled front porch. The front door opens into a large living room with a fireplace and exposed-beam ceiling. The door frames and other woodwork are unpainted. The living room and dining room have built-in window seats; there are built-in shelves in the finished attic. The rooms are spacious, particularly on the first floor. The square footage is listed on Zillow and other sites as 1,926, but county property records say 2,696 (the real-estate listings don’t include the finished attic or the apartment). The lot is just under a half acre.

The most curious aspect of the house is that it has been for sale for a year and a half. The current price is 30 percent lower than its original $395,000. It does need some work inside, but as the photos show, nothing too dramatic — cosmetic work to clean up some wear and tear, updating for the kitchen, bathrooms and some light fixtures. There are suspended ceilings in a couple rooms, and who knows what’s above them. The landscaping isn’t much. For a house in Fisher Park that’s not going to require a huge amount of renovation, $275,000 is not a bad price.

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Interesting little room with a problematic ceiling
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Not the kitchen of anyone’s dreams, perhaps, but it’s serviceable
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Low-ceiling attic room

 

5 Open Houses at Historic Homes on June 4

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306 South Mendenhall Street, College Hill

A classic historic district Victorian, extensively renovated. Built in 1922. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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1905 Rolling Road, Sunset Hills

“Lovingly restored Sunset Hills beauty.” Built in 1938. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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518 Willowbrook Drive, Lindley Park

Overlooking Lindley Park on a lot of just under an acre. Garage includes a two-bedroom apartment. Built in 1946. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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1606 Independence Road, Kirkwood

Fireplaces, built-ins and a beautiful deck. Built in 1946. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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508 Piedmont Avenue, Gibsonville

Fully renovated farmhouse in highly affordable Gibsonville. Built in 1926. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

3215 N. Rockingham Road: A 1935 Cotswold Tudor manor house for $2.9 million

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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.

3215 n. rockingham road front alt cropped.jpegAyrshire 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.

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4909 Guilford College Road: A sweet little 1908 farmhouse

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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.

4909 guilford college road fireplace.jpgInsulated 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.

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4909 Guilford College Road, outlined in orange, with Grandover Parkway to the north and Business 85 to the south

Open House: 707 Blair Street, a Lowenstein classic on the National Register of Historic Places

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Update: The Willis House sold for $524,095 on August 2, 2017.

There’s an open house at a classic Lowenstein home in Irving Park on Sunday (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.). The James H. and Anne B. Willis House, 707 Blair Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its retention of character-defining Mid-Century Modern features. Built in 1965 and designed by the Lowenstein-Atkinson firm of Greensboro, it has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and 3,000 square feet. That comes out to $194 per square foot, a relative bargain in Irving Park.

The Willis House would be distinctive in any neighborhood, but especially so in this one.

“The long, one-story, front-gable-roofed, Modernist dwelling differs in architectural character and orientation from the neighboring predominately traditionally styled homes … These residences stand closer to Blair Street and Hammel Drive than their rear lot lines, contributing to a regular façade rhythm and allowing for large back yards. The Willis House siting, dictated by the lot’s topography, is reversed. The residence occupies the 0.7-acre lot’s southwest corner and is screened on all sides by either vegetation or wood fences. Deciduous and evergreen trees fill the front yard’s slope, providing privacy, while landscaped beds along the dwelling’s perimeter contain woody shrubs and perennials. … The wooded setting and sloping grade continue on Blair Street’s opposite side, as the City of Greensboro maintains a 2.6-acre wooded tract flanking a creek that is part of the approximately four-acre Nottingham Park.”
— from the National Register nomination

The current owners, Thomas and Sara Sears, bought the home from the Willises in 2002. They completed a restoration in 2003 and a renovation in 2014 that maintained what the nomination calls “exceptional” interior integrity.

“Only a small number of Greensboro residences are truly Modernist in design, and each stands out in neighborhoods of more traditional houses. … The low, horizontal residences blend in with their settings, reflecting the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian House: economical and efficiently-planned buildings constructed of natural materials. Expansive windows and natural materials facilitate continuity between interior and exterior spaces. Common interior features include expressed structural components, radiant heating, passive cooling, cork and stone floors, wood wall and ceiling sheathing, and built-in furniture.

“The Willis House exemplifies the application of the same principles, which were more mainstream by 1965, in a cost-effective yet stylish residence. Its long, low form is typical of mid-twentieth-century dwellings, but its orientation with a broad, front-gable, secondary elevation facing the street is less common.”

It’s a remarkable house and a remarkable opportunity to own a piece of mid-century history.

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