The pool at Washington Park
Location: Rose Hill
Price range: $37,500-385,000
Schools: Greenbrier, Walker-Buford, Charlottesville
Pros: proximity to downtown and amenities, recreation, history
Cons: varying degrees of upkeep, questionable aesthetic appeal of commercial enterprises
Which popular Charlottesville park was previously known as the Pest House property because it once served as the site for a so called "pestilence house," a place to stash folks carrying communicable diseases? If you guessed Washington Park, you’re right, although it appears that the house itself may not have actually existed.
The historical timeline provided on the city’s website indicates that the structure intended to house the overflow of hospital patients suffering from Scarlet Fever was proposed in the late 19th century, but never built. And the 2011 Sustainable Neighborhood Plan created for Charlottesville city maintains that the park that sits in the northwest corner of the Rose Hill neighborhood served as a “camp” for people with contagious diseases prior to the turn of the century.
Either way, the name stuck until the Pest House property was transformed into a dump following its annexation by the city in 1916. In 1926, the 9.5-acre property sold for $1,000 to Paul G. McIntire, who adapted the land for use as a public park and playground for the black citizens of Charlottesville, who were prohibited from using other city facilities by the strictures of segregation.
Offering residents a wide variety of recreational pursuits, Washington Park is one of the central attractions in the Rose Hill neighborhood, which takes its name from the 400-acre Rose Hill Plantation that was owned by the Craven family in the years before the Civil War. The Cravens sold the majority of their estate, but retained 23 lots along what is now Preston Avenue. Following the Civil War, those 23 lots were settled by black families, and the areas of Kellytown and Tinsleytown developed and helped give rise to the Rose Hill neighborhood, which developed into a thriving mixture of commercial enterprises and residential properties.
That combination continues to characterize the neighborhood today. One of 4 current listings in the neighborhood, #507 Rose Hill Drive, sits just a block away from the Rose Hill Market and the Rose Hill Barber Shop.
"I think the Rose Hill area is appealing because of its proximity to UVA and downtown and its walkability to restaurants and parks," says Erin Garcia, realtor with Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates and listing agent for 941 Henry Avenue.
Walker-Buford Middle School, the Henry Avenue Learning Center and Murray High School are also within easy walking or biking distance of many of the homes, as are the restaurants and shops at Preston Plaza, which provide everything from handmade pasta to yoga classes. Need a paintbrush, feel like adopting a cat or just in the mood for a latte? Meadowbrook Hardware, the SPCA Rummage Sale shop and Shenandoah Joe Coffee Roasters, situated on the corner across from Washington Park, give you those opportunities.
It’s interesting to note that though many of the homes in the neighborhood date to the World War II era, the majority of the current offerings are new construction. Interesting, but certainly not unwelcome. "New construction can be a nice addition to the aesthetic mix in a neighborhood if the style is in keeping with the surrounding homes," Garcia says.
There hasn’t been a huge amount of activity in the Rose Hill real estate market so far this year, with just four sales reported in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), two of which were a house largely destroyed by a fire and an adjacent vacant lot. The new construction currently underway offers interesting possibilities and introduces the possibility of revitalization for those who aren’t intimidated by the listing prices, which are understandably a good bit higher than those of their older neighbors.
"Prices for new construction in the Rose Hill area are comparable to prices for new construction elsewhere in the city," says Garcia.