Update, September 21, 2021: The house will be demolished. The City Council rubber-stamped the rezoning. For those who follow such things, council member Tammi Thurm was the only one who stepped out of line and voted against it.
The Kimrey-Haworth House was described as “endangered” when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places 30 years ago. But it’s never been as endangered as it is now. The Greensboro City Council will vote Tuesday evening on a rezoning proposal that would clear the way for the historic house to be demolished, along others on its block in the West Friendly Avenue-Muirs Chapel Road area, for a medical office building.
Medical office buildings can be built anywhere. There are some in the West Friendly-Muirs Chapel area already. But historic homes like the Kimrey-Haworth House, built around 1925, are increasingly rare. They can’t be replaced. The historic homes that would be demolished have greater value to the community than yet another office building. If the City Council says no to this developer, he can build his office building somewhere else and the community will get the same benefit from it. But if they say no to the Kimrey-Haworth House and its neighbors, those homes and their history be gone forever, and the value they bring to our community will be lost forever.
Lexington’s first residential neighborhoods were built out beginning in the the late 1800s, and they’re relatively intact today. Those neighborhoods — Courtenay, Hillcrest, Oak Crest, Park Place, Robbins Heights, Rosemary Park and Westover Heights — now constitute the Lexington Residential Historic District on the National Register. It’s a sprawling area running from Business 85 and Grimes School to the north down to West 9th Street to the south. It contains the much smaller Park Place local historic district.
The district contains a variety of interesting historic homes, and four of them are on the market now. They include a gorgeous Mediterranean Revival, a judge’s austere Colonial Revival, a Craftsman bungalow and a Craftsman Foursquare, all built between 1915 and 1926.
The Lasater Mill House is a mansion that was originally an outbuilding for a bigger mansion. It was designed by Northrup & O’Brien for a niece of R.J. Reynolds, Nancy Margaret Lybrook Lasater (1877-1952), and her husband, Robert E. Lasater (1867-1954), an RJR executive. Nancy’s mother, Mary Josephine Reynolds Lybrook (1844-1888), was a sister of RJR; she was the first of 12 children, only seven of whom survived to adulthood.
The house is at the west end of Lasater Lake, where Blanket Creek runs down to the nearby Yadkin River. The exterior and the interior are spectacular. I’d love to know what Northrup and O’Brien would say about how the house has been updated. If those bathrooms wouldn’t blow their minds, nothing would.
As J. Spencer Love was building Burlington Mills into the largest textile company in the world, he moved to Greensboro and built an 11,000 square-foot house befitting his status as one of 20th century America’s more prominent ground-breaking, union-busting industrialists. The mansion sits at 710 Country Club Drive on 3.3 acres of prime Irving Park property, and it went on the market this week for $7.495 million.
“The Love House is a palatial Georgian Revival mansion inspired by eighteenth century Virginia houses,” the neighborhood’s National Register nomination says. “It features Flemish bond brickwork, a steep hipped roof with segmental-arched dormers and a modillioned cornice, a five-bay facade with a swan’s neck pedimented entrance, a string course between floors, and brick corner quoins. Large one and two-story wings project from either side of the main block. An expansive landscaped lawn fronts the house and is bordered by a molded brick wall.”
The Conant-Praigg House was sold in April, almost four years after being put up for sale and almost three years after the owners gave up and took it off the market. It was finally sold without being listed publicly again. There are at least a couple reasons why it was a particularly difficult sell. One was a quirk of history.
Even in the hottest sellers’ market in recent memory, the sellers took a $150,000 loss on the house, and that was after owning it for 13 years. They had bought it, sadly, just two weeks before the 2008 real-estate market crash (they paid $850,000 in September 2008). Home prices have recovered overall, but, all these years later, there are still an unfortunate few houses that have been left behind.
The April sale, though, was the second in a row in which the sellers took a significant loss. The 2008 price was $50,000 less than the price paid in 2006. Prices may have peaked before the crash, but there’s another issue at 603 Hillcrest Drive.
Who knows what they — whoever “they” were — were thinking when they designed 427 N. Main Street in Graham. But it’s the kind of house that makes you think that our grandparents and great-grandparents may have been having more fun than we would suspect of those boring old people.
The house is in Graham’s North Main Street Historic District. The French Normandy Revival-style home features “a steeply pitched hip roof, a round witches cap entrance turret, segmental arched door openings, glazed and paneled doors, and decorative eave brackets,” the district’s National Register nomination says.
Lacking anything else to say about the house, it’s worth noting that Elkin (“the best little town in NC“) seems to be an increasingly interesting place. The historic Reeves Theatre and Cafe downtown hosts concerts regularly, twice a month featuring the renowned Martha Bassett. Elkin is in the Yadkin Valley wine region, so there are wineries nearby. Also a couple breweries, hiking trails and an interesting downtown. And more.
There aren’t that many Spanish Revival (or Spanish Eclectic) homes in the Piedmont’s older neighborhoods, but four have popped up on the market this summer, two houses in High Point and two bungalows in Winston-Salem. This style can be found in ones or twos in many older neighborhoods, adding Mediterranean flair to the mix of Tudors and Four Squares, Craftsmans and Colonials.
The homes available this summer aren’t as elaborate as many Spanish Revivals, but they share many features typical to the style — light-colored stucco exteriors, arches over doors and windows, low-pitched tile roofs and (three of them, at least) asymmetric designs. But there’s variety among them. 1503 Wiltshire Street in High Point displays a smooth combination of Spanish Revival and the closely related Craftsman style. 205 Edgedale Drive is strikingly symmetrical, which is odd for Spanish Revival. The two Winston-Salem bungalows, 900 S. Hawthorne Road and 2229 Maplewood Avenue, may be more pure examples of the style, but they look distinctly different.
Spanish Revival was popular from around 1915 to 1930, particularly in Florida, California and the Southwest. By the ’30s it had largely faded away as variety and distinctiveness lost out to conformity and more austere, less labor-intensive styles.
Mansions can be tricky to sell. How many people need a 9,000 square-foot house? Six bedrooms? Five and a half bathrooms? Belmont, the Robert Payne Richardson Jr. House, is as grand a mansion as you’ll find, and it took more than six years to sell it (the sale closed in May).
The price was $950,000, just $106 per square foot. It was listed originally for $1.495 million more than six years ago. The seller lived there and rented it out as a wedding and event venue, and that’s likely to be its use going forward. The buyer is a Delaware corporation that owns a wedding venue called the Bella Collina Mansion in Stokesdale (“Tuscany’s version of Cinderella’s Castle!!!”), so the Richardson house appears to have a sustainable future, always a big question for a grand estate like this.