I’m not sure what the cutoff is for “affordable” these days when it comes to buying a home. What I do know is that older homes are becoming more unaffordable every day, like every other sort of home. So it caught my eye when a little group of at least relatively affordable homes popped up this week. They’ll probably sell quickly — one already has, in a single day — but their appearance on the market does confirm that such houses exist.
None of these appear to require major restoration work. They’re all essentially move-in ready, as far as one can judge from the listings. They’re mostly smaller places in smaller towns. For the moment, at least, these look like the best opportunities for buyers looking for affordable historic homes in the Piedmont Triad.
It’s a sign of the times that the Haywood House went up for sale May 8, and the sellers accepted an offer four days later. Nineteenth-century mansions that need “a little updating and TLC” can linger for months before just the right buyer comes along. But these are still not ordinary times, and the Haywood House is no ordinary home.
Built in 1802, it’s a Classical Revival mansion with four monumental columns out front. It has four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms (one with a fireplace in what must have originally been a bedroom) in 4,330 square feet (per county records; the listing shows 4,800). That divides out to a very modest $81 per square foot. The once-sprawling grounds have been reduced to a manageable 10 acres. The property is a few miles east of Mount Gilead in the Uwharrie National Forest. The address is 2989 Thickety Creek Road.
The Ernest Nissen House is one of the most striking and historic homes in the Waughtown-Belville Historic District, and this is the entire description in its new for-sale listing: “PROPERTY HAS NO PERMANENT HEATING.” May St. Joseph protect it, because the owner and listing agent don’t appear to care much what happens to it.
The house is associated with the Nissen family and the more than 100-year history of the Nissen Wagon Works just down the street. It’s listed at $189,900. It needs cosmetic work, but a surprising amount of interior detail has survived.
3307 Gaston Road is one of Edward Lowenstein’s “Commencement Houses,” the three homes designed by Lowenstein and his students when he taught at the Women’s College (which had become UNCG by the time this one, the third, was built). Two of the houses still stand, and this one in Sedgefield is now for sale at $765,000.
The house is a Mid-Century Modern classic. The entrance hall has a 17-foot high wall of windows. There are large windows throughout the house, an open staircase and minimal ornamentation. At the back, a second-floor deck provides a view of the Sedgefield Country Club golf course. The house sits well back from the street in a forested landscape. The kitchen is modern but maintains its strikingly 1950s look.
Update: The MLS listing was withdrawn on March 28.
The owners of Double Oaks, the Harden Thomas Martin House, are selling it as a turnkey business, including the furnishings and fixtures. But if you need 6 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms and a commercial kitchen just for yourself and your family, it would serve quite nicely as a $1.795 million single-family residence.
The house has been impeccably restored. The interior is as attention-grabbing as the exterior. Originally operated as a B&B from 1998-2007, the current owners bought and reopened it in 2016. They’ve restored the formerly closed third floor and added extensive landscaping, making it an active venue for weddings and other events.
The George and June Newman House is in Greensboro’s Latham Park neighborhood, 1307 Latham Avenue. It was designed by architect J.P. Coble, who practiced in New York City.
Jack Pickens Coble (1909-1984) was born in Greensboro. “He graduated from the Cornell University College of Architecture, where he won first prize in the 1934 Baird Prize Competition, $35 and a gold seal, for designing a proscenium arch and a curtain for an opera house,” his obituary in The New York Times reported. His residential clients included Edgar Bronfman, Bennett Cerf, Stephen Sondheim and Mrs. Marshall Field.
What’s particularly wonderful about the Barefoot-Tate House, 507 N. Main Street in Graham, is that it’s a kit house manufactured by the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan, and shipped to Graham to be assembled on site. (They also were referred to as “knock-down” houses; Aladdin used the term “Readi-Cut”).
“Manufactured housing” meant something different 100 years ago compared to today. Aladdin houses were affordable but substantial structures, made to last and designed for a variety of neighborhoods. Aladdin was the first mail-order home company, established in 1906. Its competitors eventually included Sears, Montgomery Ward and, briefly after World War II, the late, lamented Lustron.
The Barefoot-Tate House is the Aladdin “Colonial” model. The original price was about $1,895; the 2021 price is $285,000. It has 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms in 2,915 square feet, just $98 per square foot. The lot is 0.67 acre. Pictures with the listing indicate that it looks to be in great condition. It’s in Graham’s North Main Street Historic District on the National Register.
212 Florence Street is a little worse for wear after more than 100 years. Still, its Craftsman features are intact, and now it has a chance for a new lease on life. The Preservation Greensboro Development Fund is seeking a buyer to restore the house to its original use as a single-family residence. It was divided into three apartments decades ago.
It’s a great opportunity for anyone who would love to restore a historic home. And as a contributing structure in the National Register Fisher Park Historic District, it’s eligible for historic-rehabilitation tax credits. The house will be sold subject to a rehabilitation agreement and a preservation easement to ensure the structure and its distinctive features are returned to good condition and converted back to a single-family residence.
201 County Club Drive was a relatively late addition to Greensboro’s most affluent neighborhood. The Colonial Revival was built around 1940, and today it retains the stately elegance of its era, which was rapidly drawing to a close. The house was listed for sale this week at $863,000.
The Morgan House has 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms, in 3,058 square feet, which comes out to an impressive $282 per square foot. The lot is 0.46 acre. The interior looks impeccable; the landscaping is gorgeous as well. The house is a fine example of Irving Park at its opulent best, but it isn’t quite as remarkable as its first owner.
Roy Morgan may have had one of the most distinguished careers of anyone in Greensboro in the mid-20th century, but he may be one of the least known among the city’s leading figures of the time. Aside from serving on the City Council, most of his work was far from Greensboro.