REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- <span class="s1">Mount Paran : A room with a pew</span>
ADDRESS: 840 Welsh Run Road
COUNTY ASSESSMENT: $191,100
YEAR BUILT: 1854
SIZE: 2,975 fin. sq. ft.
LAND: 1.24 acres
CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10
LISTED BY: Peggy Weber Rogers, Roy Wheeler Realty
We all know that driving up 29 North can cause massive anxiety, but we all seem to do it anyway. Initially, we grieve for the poor defenseless trees mowed down in the wake of mega-malls, but when Hollymead Town Center raised its glorious head o' commerce, many of us flocked to it like a modern-day Mecca and bowed down in whatever direction the cash register faced while we fumbled in our wallets and prayed to Benjamin Franklin.
Greene County has so far pretty much managed to stay out of the real estate limelight because it's not the chi-chi destination point that Albemarle has become. But as one travels off 29 and closer to the mountains across Rt. 33, the reasons that many of us live here become increasingly clear: winding, narrow lanes punctuated by smaller, well-established homes with constant views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
And it is no surprise that around one bend a white-spired church appears like those pastoral scenes on New England calendars, offering a peaceful respite from the hubbub of 29 or the grimness of trailers and shacks tucked into the woods.
Built in 1854 as a United Methodist Church, this building remained in use until the congregation dwindled and disappeared. Architect Bruce Wardell, seeing the heaven-sent opportunity to create a divine living space, bought the church in 1989 with plans to keep the structure intact. And the current owners have not only preserved but have enhanced the space.
Entering the luscious raspberry-painted vestibule with its horse/buggy motif and polo sticks propped in the corner, one can almost smell the turf and hear the thundering hooves. But all that fades to background fluff as we enter the main room and experience what the agent appropriately calls the "wow factor." Who cares about furniture placement or even kitchen placement when ceilings soar to 16 feet? Forget "through the roof"– "to the roof" does just fine in this place.
This formal area– of which every square foot has been meticulously decorated– exudes a slightly haughty air. But the rows of seemingly wall-to-wall windows make all that stuff seem inconsequential. Neatly dissected as it is by a wood-burning fireplace at one end and open bookshelves at the other, the formal room seems very livable.
The center of this great room has been reconfigured to accommodate an open galley-like kitchen with less opulent living/dining spaces on either side. Above this, accessed by some very narrow stairs (one assumes mattresses and furniture must be air-lifted), is a rather luxurious loft. Currently a home office/kid space/tv room/ guest bedroom, it was originally designed to be a master bedroom.
Whether God or the devil resides in the details, there are so many here that even those two deities may get confused. One in particular stands out– the supporting I-beams for the second level also contain discreet kitchen cupboards.
A wing was added in 1950 to house offices and host the after-service coffee klatch. On a hot day, the below-ground position of its first level– off the main room and down a few stairs– makes it a comfortable place for two large bedrooms and a shared bath. Larger-than-average window wells allow ample light, so no one should feel buried alive.
Upstairs, the addition has been reconfigured into two bedrooms with the master suite at the far end. Windows along one side of the hallway let the light and view take precedence. A door leads to what the current owners have aptly described as a secret garden marked by a little white picket fence around a nicely landscaped slate patio. The clicking of teacups seemed not far away. Here one can privately watch the gathering congregation of rolling blue hills.
The near constant buzz of chainsaws and gossip that fuels Albemarle's growth is less apparent in Greene. With the same amenities nearby and a driving time that equals those pursuing their real estate dream on the other side of Charlottesville, one wonders why? But perhaps one wonders who cares? Paradise can be found almost anywhere, and if a little slice of heaven is what you're after, it just mightt be in Greene County.
Photos courtesy of the agent