REAL ESTATE- On the Block- How sweet it is: Sugar Hollow's link to the past
ADDRESS: 3300 Middle Mountain Road
NEIGHBORHOOD: Sugar Hollow
COUNTY ASSESSMENT: $567,100 ($341,800 under land use)
YEAR BUILT: 1999
SIZE: 2,016 fin. sq. ft.
LAND: 26 acres
CURB APPEAL: 7 out of 10
LISTED BY: Ross Stevens of Stevens and Company
Some places in the world just sound better than others. If one chooses a destination based solely on its name, then one might pick, say, Geneva over Helsinki, or Warm Springs instead of Bumpass. And right here, our very own Sugar Hollow rolls off the tongue a lot smoother than, let's say, Dyke.
And in fact, the sweet enticements of Sugar Hollow bring people from all over the county to wade in its waters, hike its hills, and generally loll about. For those who own a house here, the exclusivity and privacy raise the desirability exponentially. And anyone who visits regularly knows that real estate signs rarely dot the corners of intersections. So when one popped up, it seemed like a great opportunity to take a closer look.
Anticipation runs high as the car is swathed in trees and the tires grip the gravel. Sitting atop a grassy hillock cleared of its natural flora, the reconstructed timber frame house looks like it's been there for over a hundred years (an ode to true sustainability). In fact, the house has been around longer than that; it's just that its original locale was Gretna.
When discovered by Noah Bradley of Blue Mountain Builders on one of his many meandering drives around the state, part of the structure was serving as a hay barn. Bradley's trick is to look for a trailer and then try to spot an old homestead nearby. In this instance, he offered to build something for the owners more suitable for hay and then carted the house away.
But here in Sugar Hollow it's not an exact replica; he labels his finds, stores them, and then puts them together kind of like piecing together a puzzle with disparate parts.
The interior is all about the wood: exposed oak beams for the wall and ceiling and heart pine flooring as well as foot-wide lintels and door frames all stripped down to their bare beauty and solid testaments to the longevity and power of trees.
The emergence of stress skin panels has allowed timber frame construction to grow rapidly in the last 10 years. The exposed timbers can now be fully inside the insulation and protected from moisture damage. This also allows the craftsmanship to show throughout the house.
Downstairs, a very solid stone fireplace separates the living and kitchen/dining rooms and serves on one side as the hearth and on the other as a flue for a woodstove. Even on a warm late summer day, the large main room evokes images of deep leather armchairs and stacks of bright wool blankets.
The equally large kitchen seems lonely for the smell of fresh bread and hot chocolate. High ceilings, well-placed windows, cut-outs, and built-in pantry provide the place with the best of what's necessary. Think Robert Redford meets Frank Lloyd Wright.
Another room downstairs with a wall of exposed bookshelves leads to the one bathroom with a shower. Not exactly the Ritz, but you don't go to Sugar Hollow for Ritzy amenities.
Upstairs, more exposed beams add a unique charm as the builders left the space looking like an unfinished construction site instead of creating useless divisions with walls. The effect is playful and spacious, kind of like backstage at a summer stock theater. Two large bedrooms, full bath (this one with just a tub) round out the second floor.
Up another small flight of stairs and behind a little trap door is an attic accessible only by stooping over and waddling like a penguin. But once there, like the rest of the house, it felt warm and tight.
Whatever defines character, this house has it. Like walking Civil War battlefields to better understand the history and spirit of that now long-ago time, this house embodies a strong connection with the past combined with a firm grip on the present. Whoever buys the house will have access to both.
Not to sugar-coat it, but this is one sweet spot.