Greensboro landlord James Dutton owned 13 rental houses when he died last month. All have been put up for sale at once with a total asking price of almost $5 million. Nine are in the College Hill Historic District. All were built between about 1896 and 1926, and all were originally single-family houses, split into apartments decades ago. Except for two houses on North Cedar Street, they’re close to UNCG.
Among them are relatively simple Queen Annes, Queen Anne-Colonial Revivals and Foursquares. One suffered a fire in 1992, leaving only the exterior intact; the interior had to be entirely rebuilt (that was before James Dutton bought it). Some were previously owned by Dutton’s parents, Herman Clarence Dutton and Agnes B. Dutton, going back as far as 1939. Two were bought in 2021.
The houses are listed for sale separately. Any could be returned to single-family residences, and many could be very impressive. Most of the prices are relatively high for restoration projects, but they’re also high for rental properties in their respective neighborhoods, particularly considering Dutton’s evident, decades-long disinterest in maintenance and investment. Only two of the houses have central air conditioning, according to county property tax records (and at least one already had it when Dutton bought it). Eleven of the 13 are painted white. Some are listed with more apartments than bathrooms, according to county records; some bathroom additions may not have been reported for property-tax purposes.
Houses don’t come up for sale that often in Old Salem, but the Belo-Stockton House is available again for the second time in about 10 months. The previous owners put the house on the market last December and accepted an offer in three days. They were able to close the sale in less than a month, even with the intervening holidays. I guess the buyer had no trouble getting a mortgage. It was an LLC belonging to L.M. Baker Jr., the former chairman of Wachovia.
It’s almost irresistible to linger over our shared memories of Mr. Baker — for those too young to remember, he typically went by his nickname, “Bud,” which rhymes with “mud” — but let’s not let his presence distract us from this wonderful house.
Priced at $440,000 this time, the house has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in 2,100 square feet ($210/square foot, right about the going rate for top-of-the-line historic houses in the most desirable neighborhoods). Pictures included in the listing suggest the interior and exterior are close to impeccable.
Note: The house was built by Lawrence Shackleford Holt (1851-1937), third generation member of the local family that dominated the Alamance textile industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Nation Register nomination: “Sunny Side is a well~detailed, little-altered, two-story T-shaped frame Italianate style house with some Gothic Revival style features constructed in 1871 …. The cross-gable roof house with an elaborate bracketed cornice faces north and has a three-bay wide, single-pile main core with ornate two-bay hip-roof front porch, a projecting double-pile gable-front wing and rear ell at the east, and a small one-story single-room wing at the west. …
This is how things are going this summer: 638 N. Spring Street was listed for sale on Friday July 9 at $649,900. The sale closed on Thursday July 22. That’s crazy fast. These days, it’s amazing even to schedule a home inspection that quickly. In more normal times, you might see that kind of speed when run-down rentals are being kicked around from from one landlord to another. But a high-end property? Forget it.
Another surprise: The sellers accepted an offer $15,000 lower than their asking price. That’s not unheard-of, though, even as many sellers are getting $20,000, $30,000 or even $50,000 more than they’re asking. A number of sellers recently have started out courageously pushing the upper limit of their neighborhood’s home prices, only to quickly receive a reasonable offer and decide, “Close enough!” A slightly lower price and quick closing may be worth the assurance that the house you’re selling won’t eat even one more mortgage payment.
Note: The listing gives the square footage as 4,700.
District NRHP nomination: “Large, impressive two-story brick late Victorian style house with granite trim, dominated by a two-and-one-half story polygonal projecting bay and one-story wrap-around porch with spindle frieze.
“The virtually unaltered house also features decorative, tall, corbelled and recessed panel interior chimneys, one-over-one windows with granite lintels and sills, granite string course extending around the house above the second story windows, decorative sawn brackets supporting wide overhanging eaves and Colonial Revival interior features.
“Built in 1901 by contractor J.A. Tesh for W.E. Merritt, who owned a hardware store and brickyard, and was the founder of the Renfro Textile Company and one of the founders of the Mount Airy Furniture Company.”
William Edward “Ed” Merritt (1867-1946) was born in Chatham, Virginia. His wife, Caroline Octavia “Carrie” Kochtitzky Merritt (1868-1960), was a native of Oakland, Missouri. After they came to Mount Airy, Ed’s parents and five of his six siblings also moved to the town.
From the Mount Airy News: “As is often the case, this new blood energized and benefited the community, as they established or led several major businesses: Merritt Hardware, Renfro Hosiery, Mount Airy Furniture Company, Merritt Machine Shop, Piedmont Manufacturing Company, and Floyd Pike Electrical, the North Carolina Granite Corp., and others. Several family members have served as town commissioners, the city engineer, the Surry County Draft Board, the county Board of Commissioners, and in the US Navy and Army.”