There are only four National Register properties for sale in the Piedmont right now (that I know of, at least, plus one under contract), but they represent a wide variety, particularly in size and price. There’s the small and unforgettable Villa Fortuna in Reidsville, just 1,500 square feet and $99,900 (needs some work). And then there’s Boxwood Lodge in Davie County, 9,300 square feet and $3.45 million (needs nothing but your $3.45 million).
Boxwood was built in 1934 and has been a B&B since 1995. The listing says a $5 million renovation was completed in 2007. The house is set on 51 mostly wooded acres near the Yadkin River, It has eight bedrooms, six full bathrooms and two half-baths in 9,304 square feet (according to county records). That comes to a remarkable $371 per square foot. But, then, it’s a remarkable house.
The Maya Angelou House has had a $1 million-plus makeover since she died in 2014, so it’s quite different from what it was when she lived there. But it was her house for 20 years, so it definitely deserves its name. It’s for sale now at $2.395 million.
Maya Angelou became the third owner of the house in 1994. She had come to Winston-Salem in 1981 as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest. After her death, the house was bought for $500,000 by Shelley and Daryl Bible. The current listing agent told Triad Business Journal that the couple “wanted to stay true to the essence of the home and its legacy, but it needed a lot of renovation.”
There are a couple commonly used real-estate phrases that don’t make much sense if you read them literally. One is “hard to find” (as in, “hard to find brick ranch in 1950s neighborhood”). Do you want a home that’s hard to find? I suppose some people actually do, and if you’re one of them, there’s a house for sale in Montgomery County you should see. If you can find it.
Update: The house sold for $131,000 on June 26, 2020, $13,000 over the asking price. The owners accepted the offer May 30, two days after putting the house up for sale.
Caswell County has some of the grandest antebellum mansions in the state. The John Johnston House is something quite different and more rare. “Though members of the Johnston family were prominent in social and economic affairs in Caswell County from the eighteenth century onward, the significance of the house derives less from the specific historical contributions of its occupants than from its representation of a class of plantation residence that has rarely been preserved,” the home’s 1997 National Register nomination says.
Even with the shutdown of the economy in recent weeks, the market for historic homes in the Piedmont has been ticking along. Activity has been a bit slower than you would expect in the spring, but houses are still coming onto the market, offers are being made and accepted (sometimes very quickly) and sales are closing.
In Winston-Salem, one of the most remarkable houses sold in the past two months is 125 N. Westview Drive, the home of one of the city’s most significant families of artists — John Ehle, Rosemary Harris Ehle and Jennifer Ehle. The Buena Vista mansion was sold without being listed. The sale closed April 15 for $910,000, a modest $108 per square foot. A listing belatedly posted this week includes only the photo above (Google Street View isn’t any help).
Novelist John Ehle and actress Rosemary Harris Ehle bought the Spanish Revival home in 1969. They were apparently only the second owners of the 8,400 square-foot mansion (the deeds aren’t available online to prove it). It was designed by Charles Barton Keen and built in 1925. An intriguing house, it has a pink stucco exterior and red Ludowici-Celedon tile roof. It sits on two prime acres of Buena Vista.
Like the daffodils that started blooming before this winter’s first snow, spring home-buyers are rushing out early this year. New listings of historic homes in the Triad are being scooped up as many sellers are pricing their homes just right and buyers are jumping at the opportunity.
The majority of these homes are in the more affordable end of the price range, under $300,000, although there are some conspicuous exceptions. Also, these homes are mostly in the larger cities (especially Winston-Salem — what’s going on over there?). Quick sales aren’t happening much in the Piedmont’s smaller towns and rural areas.
The Jennings-Baker House, also known as Villa Fortuna, is one of the most affordable National Register properties you’re likely to see. Accordingly, it also needs more work than most National Register properties. It’s not a complete wreck, though, and some of its charm has stood up to the years very well.
The brick exterior is notably elaborate. The National Register nomination calls Villa Fortuna a distinctive and vernacular mix of styles — Gothic Revival, Italianate and more — that were popular in the mid-19th century. The current real estate listing says it’s simply “the perfect blend of unpretentious elegance and a rustic urban farm,” although even an urban farmer might want more than the villa’s half acre.
When the glory days of Rockingham and Caswell counties passed, they didn’t leave much behind except some grand old houses. Rivermont in Eden is a relatively late example of the old mansions of Rockingham County (there are two others currently for sale and another under contract). Built in 1936, it’s move-in ready and all yours for $650,000.
The last time 294 West End Boulevard was sold, it went for $65,000. That was in 1984, and the West End has changed a lot since then. The house went on the market today for $445,000. It’s a beautifully restored Craftsman; the price is in line with a similarly impressive Craftsman in the West End that’s also for sale now, 701 Manly Street, and other well-restored houses in the historic district over the past year.