Lair on Locust: Views and light behind imposing wall

Address: 801 Locust Avenue, Charlottesville
Neighborhood: Locust Grove
Asking: $780,000   
Assessment: $745,300   
Year built: 1925   
Size: 4,056 fin. sq. ft, 60 unfin.
Land: .89 acres

Agent: Roger Voisinet, ReMax Realty Specialists, 434-974-1500
Curb Appeal: 5 out of 10

Living within the city limits can mean giving up a sculpted landscape for a postage-stamp yard and a too-close-for-comfort view of the neighbor. It’s rare that one can find a house with nearly an acre of park-like splendor and mountain views– less than a mile of the Downtown Mall. Located in the first city neighborhood to be designated a Historic Conservation District, this is one of many 19th century houses constructed near the former home of Martha Jefferson Hospital.

This charming, restored Craftsman is hidden behind a fortress of trees and a tall wood fence. A buyer may be put off by this lack of curb appeal, but just inside a stylish iron gate the fence becomes a backdrop for a landscaped perimeter and a sound barrier to street noise. The low-pitched, front-gabled roof creates a wide, open eave with a patio– a cozy space to corral the children within a private courtyard.

A single door leads from this entryway into the living room, featuring a fireplace with classic Arts and Crafts style wood molding. From here there is an open view from the front door to the back. It appears this was once blocked off, but removing obstructing walls allowed for a more modern floor plan. A second entrance along the side of the house brings guests up an exterior stairway (with horizontal, steel-cabled rails) to a set of French doors leading into the expansive foyer. The addition of floor-to-ceiling glass lets natural light flow to the innermost portion of the home. To the left of this door, a nook with a built-in bookcase is used for an office.

Walking from the foyer through the office, the view increases exponentially into an open concept kitchen and dining area with views of the rolling landscape. Craftsman-style molding trims each new window stretching around three walls, including a row of transoms above the maple cabinetry. In contrast, there are blown-glass pendants, frosted glass cabinet doors, and stainless steel appliances. An island with a butcher-block top serves as a bar and prep area while green granite adds color to the surrounding counters.

Two sets of sliding-glass doors give access to the sizable wraparound deck with a unique, semitransparent shade system. There is a second balcony above this one, with standard awning material shading the observation deck. The second floor is devoted to the masters of the house. The color palette there is boldly tropical, with sea foam green and gold-tone paint. There is a large bedroom and an adjacent room serving as a walk-in closet, a spacious bath with double sink vanity set in green glass tile, and a handsome foyer area just off the balcony with space to set a recliner.

Descending a staircase to the first floor, guests find two bedrooms and a shared full bath tucked behind the living room. One bedroom has loads of storage with a wall of shelves and two small closets. The bath has original bead board wainscoting with a painted wood base cabinet and a new octagon sink set in a glass mosaic countertop.

A concrete and brick patio became the foundation of an enclosed bonus room below the kitchen and deck with space for a pool table, workout equipment, and a large seating area. Adjacent to this is a 3-room apartment built in 1999. There is superficial updating to do throughout the house, allowing for an infusion of modern details. Considering the amount of entertainment space this home has, it would be an ideal location for young professionals with an active social life and a yen for the feel of the countryside.
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There is a big disparity between how many finished sq. ft. the city's assessor thinks this place has and what is claimed by the seller's agent who gives it a 1200 sq. ft. bump. The "young professionals" holding those lovely soirees had better be pretty prosperous to afford it.

$780,000 is a lot of money for a "young couple".

Assuming the one acre lot is not developable, the property has no potential for income production. Is the apartment "legal" in terms of the zoning? Might be an Ok mother-in-law place, but, again, not much potential for income production with Martha J. gone and that source of renters moved to the East.

Seems like this might be OK for a "trust funder". but out of the reach of most people willing to live in town when there are so many better housing opportunities in the County.

Really wish The Hook would only pick truly unusual homes for this column.

The Arts and Crafts or "Craftsman" style which the author repeatedly references is an almost certain indicator, in the US at least, that a house was built in the 20th century, not the 19th. The build date of 1925 should have been a clue, even a writer who obviously knows nothing about houses. The fact that someone put period inappropriate Ikea style kitchen cabinetry and other woodwork also makes that house anything but "restored.".

Oh my god this makes me hate Charlottesville. They bought the house in 2002 for $460,000. I doubt those improvements cost $300,000.

Regarding City assessor's info being correct, you must own a very new home in the city to have your info properly recorded. Our house was listed as being 34 years newer than it is and according to the records, one of the twin parlors is a bedroom. No correct sq ft on any level. Most people don't want their assessment to reflect the current value cause they'd have to pay more in taxes. This home's assessment is high because of all of the improvements...that's when the city comes a calling with their pencils sharpened.
CFA is moving into Martha Jeff and they will employ people who will gobble up the nearby real estate, so a house with legal income property in the city will be pretty sweet.