The town of Whitsett was named for the Whitsett Institute, a school for boys founded by the son of early settler Joseph Whisett. The family homestead has stood in the small eastern Guilford County town since 1883, but it may need some luck to remain standing much longer. The house and its surrounding 11 acres are for sale at $1.3 million. A hopeful sign: The owners have listed it as a residential property, even though it has been used as a financial firm’s office for many years. A less hopeful sign: They’ve also listed it as a commercial property, “11.3 Acres of Improved Commercial Land for Sale”:
“Prime development opportunity along the I-40/I-85 corridor in the fast-growing E. Guilford and W. Alamance market,” the listing reads. “Two properties consist of an office building on 11 acres and a vacant tract of 67 acres. Highest and best use is mixed use residential consisting of apartments, townhomes and SF lots.”
And, oh, by the way, “Beautiful Victorian House built in the 1880s is currently used as office.”
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.
NRHP nomination: “Its irregular massing, variety of surface materials, and rich ornamentation create a sophisticated late Victorian house of the Queen Anne style. Located at the south comer of McNeill and Barrett streets only two blocks from the county courthouse, the J.C. Black House is set back from McNeill Street on an L-shaped, flat lot. The facade of the house is sheltered from the street by a row of trees composed of hollys, pines, oaks, and one large magnolia. Other trees and shrubs are scattered around the property, but in no formal pattern. A low stone wall dating from 1937 borders the yard on the front and northeast sides.”
“While the interior of the house has seen modest alterations through the years, the exterior remains largely intact with only a few minor changes. As a whole, the J.C. Black House retains a high degree of integrity in terms of location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.”
“J. C. Black (1850-1902), who had broad political and commercial commitments in Moore County, was one of the most prominent men of his day in Carthage. A lawyer by profession, he served for years as Moore County attorney. Black was a strong promoter of economic growth in Carthage. Not only was he the leading spirit in the building of the Carthage Railroad in the mid 1880s, serving as its first president, but he was also one of the organizers and first stockholders of the Bank of Carthage.”
“Having been built during the pinnacle of Black’s career, his house survives as the consummate physical expression of his productive life and, in particular, his significance in the areas of commerce and politics/government. During the decade between the ca. 1893 construction of the house and Black’s death in 1902, J. C. Black represented Moore and Randolph counties in the state senate, served as mayor of Carthage, and was president of the Bank of Carthage. No other property attesting to his local importance survives.”
“After Black’s death, the house remained in family ownership and occupancy for nearly a century.”
The Emil and Anna Shaffner House sold this week for $710,000, and it was a bargain. The price for the 4,200 square-foot mansion was just $168 per square foot. That’s a lot of money, but many relatively mundane homes in upscale neighborhoods sell for far more. The Shaffner House is an extraordinary gem. An elegant stone cottage with steep gables and a tile roof, it sits on two-thirds of a beautifully wooded acre in Buena Vista.
The first clue that something is up at 642 Colonial Drive in High Point is the description in the neighborhood’s National Register nomination:
“The house has a brick veneer, brick chimney on the facade [where did the chimney go?] with a blind, stuccoed arch [no arch, either], and eight-over-eight, wood-sash windows with blind arches over the windows and door on the first story [still no blind arches]. The three-light-over-four-panel door is recessed slightly on the left end of the facade [no] and flanked by four-light sidelights [not]. A one-story, hip-roofed porch extends from the right elevation [no porch], supported by full-height brick piers [no piers]. A one-story wing on the left elevation [no wing] has paired, eight-light, metal casement windows [no casement windows].”
It can be quite a feat to sell a million-dollar house. Some of them remain on the market for years. It’s an even neater trick to sell one without even listing it for sale. It happens, but rarely. And the Owen Moon Jr. House in Winston-Salem is a rare one.
The house, at 1077 E. Kent Road in Reynolda Park, sold for $1.495 million on August 6 without being listed. It was built in 1926. The last time it was sold, in 2015, a listing called it an “English Cotswold Cottage.” I don’t know about the Cotswolds, but around here cottages tend to run quite a bit smaller than 5,500 square feet. The cottage mansion has six bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. It sits on a two-acre lot. The price came out to $262 per square foot, which isn’t so high at all for a house this grand, especially in a neighborhood this grand.
Update: The lisiting was withdrawn without a sale March 8, 2021.
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.
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.