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 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.
Update: The Ray-Jamerson House sold for $217,500 on October 29, 2020.
Maybe it’s time to take another look at Eden. I drove up there recently to visit the Central Leaksville Historic District, particularly to take a drive-by look at 527 Patrick Street. Gorgeous neighborhood, gorgeous house, and amazingly affordable. After an afternoon wandering around town, I came away wondering if the town might be the Triad’s best undiscovered place for affordable historic homes.
County records list 527 Patrick as being built in 1920, but that would be way late for a Queen Anne like this. The historic district’s National Register nomination gives a more likely 1886 date. The house has three bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,456 square feet. The listing’s pictures show the house to be in very good condition. The lot is 0.57 acre. It’s priced at $219,900, $90 per square foot. That’s a fabulous price compared to what a similar house would cost in, say, one of the historic districts in Greensboro or Winston-Salem.
The house was designed by Luther Lashmit. Lashmit, a partner in Northrup & O’Brien of Winston-Salem, designed two of the city’s most famous houses, Graylyn for Bowman Gray and the Internationalist classic Merry Acres for R.J. Reynolds Jr. (Merry Acres was donated to Wake Forest University, which, incredibly, demolished it.).
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 house sold for $2 million on October 7, 2020.
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.”
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.