REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Look and listen: Grove of sensory delights

ADDRESS: 1004 Grove Street


ASKING: $289,000



SIZE: 2,082 fin. sq. ft., 450 unfin.

LAND: 0.125 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10 

LISTED BY: Owner, Brian Wimer, 293-2804

Sensuous people will love this house. Of the five senses– sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch– this colorful, bright Victorian on the far side of the 10th Street connector in Fifeville appeals to at least three. 

Lovers of soothing train sounds will welcome the clickety-clack from the CSX tracks across the street. Perhaps they won't be so thrilled by the roar and whirr of the Pegasus Medevac helicopter swooping about 25 feet above the roof on its way to the landing pad within sight over at UVA Hospital. But hospital employees might consider the commotion a fair trade for the hospital's proximity– they can hop easily from home to their duty stations within five minutes.

Visually attuned people who appreciate the play of shadows and sparkles of light will love the way the huge, gorgeous, original two-over-two windows welcome the sun. Perhaps they won't be so thrilled by the energy efficiency (or lack thereof) of the double-hung wooden sashes, but storm windows can stanch the drafts, and new AC systems work fine. The idea of replacing these windows will occur to people facing potentially high energy bills, although the new heat pump and back-up electric furnace will no doubt curb costs. But any inclination to get rid of these beautiful windows should itself be stanched. Buy a wood stove, wear more sweaters– stop at nothing to avoid installing new vinyl travesties in this pretty old place.

The house has been completely renovated by the current owner: new electric service, plumbing, two new HVAC systems, a new back porch and cosmetic modifications throughout. The pine floors have been refinished to a warm red glow, and the two bathrooms and kitchen have been unpretentiously modernized.

Upstairs, two bedrooms share a modest bath. The master bedroom has a bay window to match the one in the living room below, and the large landing at the top of the stairs opens to a dainty little second-story porch.

On the first level, a series of rooms of indeterminate use will provide new owners with the challenge and fun of deciding what to do where. A room just to the right of the front door is theoretically the living room, with the large bay window and (non-working) fireplace. Behind that, another room (library? office? third bedroom?) connects to the dining room and to a room created by enclosing a porch– with the exterior clapboard for walls. 

That room, the kitchen, and the full bath (with the original pedestal– not claw-foot– tub) have floors of "marmoleum," a natural linoleum made of jute and linseed oil and popular with "green" architects these days. It's apparently free of the off-gassing of traditional linoleum and is easily maintained. More of the beautiful pine would have been preferable, but in those rooms it had disappeared long before the renovation began.

The rear upstairs bedroom has a view to the backyard over the asphalt shingles of the roof above the kitchen and dining room. The practically floor-to-ceiling windows seem almost like doors, sparking dreams of a second-floor deck. While the owner believes that serious strengthening of the underpinnings would be necessary, such a deck is just one example of additions and other changes that might occur to imaginative new owners.

The fenced backyard is pretty bare: a few large trees provide welcome shade, and old-school clothesline poles, reminders of days gone by, take the place of landscaping. The clothesline is well placed since the washer/dryer is right inside the mud room off the back porch. A cement-floor utility basement accessed by steep stairs contains the water heater and room for storage– but not much else.

The house stands on a street that's part of a real community, much as we imagine the old Vinegar Hill neighborhood must have been: houses of varying design, size, and states of repair, some with big yards and some with no yard. Walking up and down King, Grove, Jones, and Spring streets is like a trip back in time. 

New owners who choose to move into this house will find themselves part of a community in transition (several other houses are currently under renovation), but a community like the house itself, where the old has been improved rather than destroyed, making the place at once authentic and modern. 

That's where the third sense comes in. Moderation and balance are hallmarks of good taste.

Photos by Rosalind Warfield-Brown