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.
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.
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.
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.
One of Haw River’s first churches is for sale for $75,000. Holt’s Chapel was built in 1896 as the first and only home of Haw River’s Methodist Episcopal church. By 1942, the town’s two Methodist churches merged, following the national merger of their denominations. The chapel was used for Sunday school, and what had been the Methodist Protestant church on the hill behind the chapel was used for worship services.
The number of grand old houses in Caswell County is amazing, and Dongola House is one of the real gems. “The home is considered the most monumental house in Caswell County and one of the grandest in the Piedmont,” the N.C. State University Library says (Rare and Unique Digital Collections). “Dongola is a two-story, L-shaped brick home, with a tall portico of four Doric columns composed of stuccoed brick.” Multiple internet sources report that some envious person also called it “the most pretentious farmhouse of the Piedmont.”
Dongola stands at 336 W. Main Street in Yanceyville. It’s for sale at an unpretentious $109,000. “Many people believe it will take a fortune to refurbish this palatial home – we have quotes for everything and it will take less than $100K,” Preservation North Carolina says. The organization holds protective covenants on the house. Sadly, there are no current photos of the interior available. There’s a large collection of undated photos on Flickr.
102 N. Main Street in Reidsville was once a grand house, but in a matter of weeks, it will be turned into a pile of rubble. The city started implementing a demolition order on the house this week. The move follows more than a year of inspections, hearings and efforts to get the owner to do something about the place.
Update: The house sold on August 28, 2019, for $305,312.
There are some remarkable houses for sale in Reidsville and Rockingham County, and 312 S. Main Street in Reidsville may be the most impressive of them. A Queen Anne of high style, beautifully preserved, it would be a standout in any neighborhood.
Update: The house remained for sale until February 2020, when it was taken off the market.
In the early decades of the nation’s history, Caswell County was one of North Carolina’s most prosperous and prominent counties. Long beyond living memory, though, its fortunes crashed. Now, about all that’s left of its glory years are some truly impressive houses, scattered here and there from Camp Springs and Cherry Grove up to Milton and Semora.
The Moore-Gwyn-Ewalt House in the Locust Hill area is a beautiful example of Caswell’s glorious past — 6,226 square feet of Federal-style elegance on 200 unspoiled acres. The house was built in 1790; considerable square footage is in the form of two well-designed wings built in 1995. It was listed June 1 at $1.75 million. The address is 5869 U.S. Highway 158. Situated southwest of Yanceyville and close to N.C. 150, it’s within a relatively easy commute to Greensboro.