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].”
One of the happier developments among historic houses recently is that the Walter Thomas House in Leasburg has gone under contract. It’s a great restoration opportunity, and it’s been for sale for a year and a half. Leasburg is somewhat out of the way, 10 miles from Yanceyville or Roxboro.
Some of the work has been done — a restored staircase, new septic system, plumbing, electrical upgrades, new insulation and reinforced chimneys. The metal roof is less than 15 years old. Add in five chandeliers, seven fireplaces (one with a Thomas Day mantel — this is all according to the listing), the columns out front and the upstairs balcony, and you’ve really got something special.
Doors can be such interesting features. This is the front door of 245 N. Hawthorne Road in Winston-Salem. Very distinctive shape and construction (wide, too). Just the kind of front door a Tudor Revival should have. The whole house is gorgeous, as its $525,000 price suggests. It went on the market last week, and the owners accepted an offer four days later.
124 West End Boulevard is the smaller half of a two-house entry on the National Register of Historic Places. Winston-Salem’s H.D. Poindexter Houses date back to the 19th century and consist of two adjacent homes, the Poindexter House and the smaller Poindexter Cottage. The cottage was put up for sale last week at $299,900 and almost immediately went under contract.
The houses now stand side-by-side in the West End Historic District, but they started out a few blocks away in a neighborhood that was wiped out by the expansion of Winston-Salem business district in the mid-20th century. Their rescue was an early victory for preservation in the city. By the time the historic district was created, the Poindexter houses already had escaped into its friendly surroundings.
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.).
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.
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.”
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.
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.