The Long-Robbins House at 626 Knollwood Street in Winston-Salem is an almost-perfect-looking little 1940 cottage. Get rid of that aluminum screen door, and the exterior is about as charming as any you’ll find.
Among listings in the Ardmore Historic District these days, the $250,000 price is a real attention-getter. It reflects the relatively small size, 1,426 square feet. That comes out to $175 per square foot, which puts it in line with other bungalows and cottages for sale in the neighborhood.
Update: Eight of the houses had sold by March 30, 2023. The other owner had accepted three offers but all had fallen through by the end of March. Two of the houses were put on sale again at higher prices within three weeks of their closings.
Is something going on? The real estate market slowed to a crawl late last year, but it looks like spring might be quite a bit busier. Nine historic homes listed since January 30 are already under contract. The properties include a stately $950,000 home in Winston-Salem’s Buena Vista neighborhood and a $50,000 restoration project in Thomasville, a 1918 bungalow in Greensboro’s Fisher Park Historic District and a 1972 Mid-Century Modern home at the Bermuda Run Country Club.
Twenty-two homes have been added to the site in the last 10 days, so it’s not like everything out there is being grabbed up in just a few days. But the pace does seem to be picking up, right in the middle of winter. Here, in no particular order, are the nine new listings suddenly spoken for:
Some historic neighborhoods and rural communities are fortunate enough to still have buildings that once housed corner grocery stores or other retail businesses. The buildings come up for sale occasionally, and there are now four historic properties for sale in the Triad that feature former stores as homes or outbuildings. For the most part, there are relatively few available details about the structures themselves and the businesses they housed. But there are at least a few facts known about all but one.
2401 Urban Street in Winston-Salem was built to be a neighborhood grocery store with an apartment upstairs. 400 W. Main Street in Reidsville may not have been designed with a residence in mind, but it has provided a location for a business and a home for its owner as far back as 1959. The Robert G. Mitchell Store in Wentworth was built in 1900 and is barely standing, an unsound building with no heat or electricity. At 3405 Maple Avenue in Burlington, the tiny old store behind the house is a mystery.
I’m not sure what the cutoff is for “affordable” these days when it comes to buying a home. What I do know is that older homes are becoming more unaffordable every day, like every other sort of home. So it caught my eye when a little group of at least relatively affordable homes popped up this week. They’ll probably sell quickly — one already has, in a single day — but their appearance on the market does confirm that such houses exist.
None of these appear to require major restoration work. They’re all essentially move-in ready, as far as one can judge from the listings. They’re mostly smaller places in smaller towns. For the moment, at least, these look like the best opportunities for buyers looking for affordable historic homes in the Piedmont Triad.
There aren’t that many Spanish Revival (or Spanish Eclectic) homes in the Piedmont’s older neighborhoods, but four have popped up on the market this summer, two houses in High Point and two bungalows in Winston-Salem. This style can be found in ones or twos in many older neighborhoods, adding Mediterranean flair to the mix of Tudors and Four Squares, Craftsmans and Colonials.
The homes available this summer aren’t as elaborate as many Spanish Revivals, but they share many features typical to the style — light-colored stucco exteriors, arches over doors and windows, low-pitched tile roofs and (three of them, at least) asymmetric designs. But there’s variety among them. 1503 Wiltshire Street in High Point displays a smooth combination of Spanish Revival and the closely related Craftsman style. 205 Edgedale Drive is strikingly symmetrical, which is odd for Spanish Revival. The two Winston-Salem bungalows, 900 S. Hawthorne Road and 2229 Maplewood Avenue, may be more pure examples of the style, but they look distinctly different.
Spanish Revival was popular from around 1915 to 1930, particularly in Florida, California and the Southwest. By the ’30s it had largely faded away as variety and distinctiveness lost out to conformity and more austere, less labor-intensive styles.
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.
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.
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.