Update: The house sold for $131,000 on June 26, 2020, $13,000 over the asking price. The owners accepted the offer May 30, two days after putting the house up for sale.
Caswell County has some of the grandest antebellum mansions in the state. The John Johnston House is something quite different and more rare. “Though members of the Johnston family were prominent in social and economic affairs in Caswell County from the eighteenth century onward, the significance of the house derives less from the specific historical contributions of its occupants than from its representation of a class of plantation residence that has rarely been preserved,” the home’s 1997 National Register nomination says.
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.
The Jennings-Baker House, also known as Villa Fortuna, is one of the most affordable National Register properties you’re likely to see. Accordingly, it also needs more work than most National Register properties. It’s not a complete wreck, though, and some of its charm has stood up to the years very well.
The brick exterior is notably elaborate. The National Register nomination calls Villa Fortuna a distinctive and vernacular mix of styles — Gothic Revival, Italianate and more — that were popular in the mid-19th century. The current real estate listing says it’s simply “the perfect blend of unpretentious elegance and a rustic urban farm,” although even an urban farmer might want more than the villa’s half acre.
When the glory days of Rockingham and Caswell counties passed, they didn’t leave much behind except some grand old houses. Rivermont in Eden is a relatively late example of the old mansions of Rockingham County (there are two others currently for sale and another under contract). Built in 1936, it’s move-in ready and all yours for $650,000.
The last time 294 West End Boulevard was sold, it went for $65,000. That was in 1984, and the West End has changed a lot since then. The house went on the market today for $445,000. It’s a beautifully restored Craftsman; the price is in line with a similarly impressive Craftsman in the West End that’s also for sale now, 701 Manly Street, and other well-restored houses in the historic district over the past year.
Update: The house sold for $30,000 on November 6, 2019.
The owner of 4981 George West Road in Kernersville apparently doesn’t think much of the house. The listing mainly is concerned with two other things. One is how nice the flat, 1-acre lot would be for a home site. The other is this goat:
Update: The auction didn’t result in a sale, and the jail was taken off the market in December 2019. The other two houses were sold in the summer of 2020.
Davie County’s original jail was built in Mocksville in 1839, three years after the county was established. Now it’s the centerpiece of an online auction of five properties all on the same downtown corner. Prospective buyers can bid on the properties separately or all of them together.
The jail is the centerpiece. It housed the county’s most armed and dangerous for 70 years and then became a residence. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 2001 the current owner bought it and converted it to office use.
Update: The listing was withdrawn December 5, 2019.
Mid-Century Modern never generated any great mass appeal among mainstream home buyers. It’s too out-there for the typical family. And you won’t find a Mid-Century home much further out there than 3905 Henderson Road in Greensboro’s remarkable Hamilton Lakes neighborhood. The house is for sale at $1.099 million. The price has been reduced a bit since it was listed (originally $1.195 million), but it’s still $384 per square foot, a rather breath-taking price for any type of house in Greensboro.
Update: The depot didn’t sell at the auction. It remained for sale until July 2020, when it was taken off the market.
The important thing to remember about the Stokesdale railroad depot is that it isn’t in Stokesdale any more. It’s in Madison. And on Saturday at 11 a.m. it will be auctioned.
The depot was bought in 1975 and moved to its present location just south of Madison at 3766 U.S. 220. Sam Heffinger spent five years turning it into a home for him and his wife, India. Sam was a carpenter, farmer and clock smith (and a Marine during World War II). Here’s how it turned out.