REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Seven Oaks: Just two, really, but so what?


ADDRESS: 5473 Gordonsville Road


ASKING: $895,000

ASSESSMENT: $740,600


SIZE: 2,900 fin. sq. ft., 720 unfin.

LAND: 1.0 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

AGENT:  Loring Woodriff, 466-2992

Crossword puzzle fanciers know certain clues show up over and over. One gimme is "tree street name," three letters. Elm? Oak? Ash? Fir? All you need is one letter filled in, and you're golden.

Similarly, Albemarle County property watchers are used to houses named for trees: "Seven Oaks," "Tall Oaks," "Maple Hill," "Ash Lawn," and once again, "Seven Oaks."

This is the second Seven Oaks, not the Greenwood spread currently on offer in western Albemarle. This one in the eastern part of the county is 20 years newer (1840 v. 1860) somewhat smaller (2,900 sq. ft. v. 6,900) and significantly cheaper (music mogul Coran Capshaw's asking $12.5 million for his Oaks).

But this pretty restored Georgian in the heart of the Keswick hunt country needn't feel slighted. True, the original seven oaks have dwindled to two; it's on just one acre (and practically right on Route 231), and "modernizations" include those blasted ceiling fans in four upstairs rooms. But that's the extent of our quibbles. 

Three particular things make the house unusual and appealing. The first is the lack of above-counter storage in the kitchen. It's a bit disconcerting when you first come into the room. Something's different, and it takes a minute or two to figure out what it is– no cabinets!  

Two large shiny pillars separate the open kitchen from the center hall running the length of the house from front door to back, and there are, in fact, a couple of little cabinets over a separate butler's sink (above a swanky wine 'fridge) opposite a center granite-topped island. But nowhere else is the wide expanse of walls and windows (and paneled ceiling!) cluttered by hanging cabinets. It's a surprise, and it makes the generous kitchen seem bigger, a feeling enhanced by maximum light.

Another neat thing about the house is the bathrooms. A power room tucked under the "back" stairs seems to have been designed for Alice after she drank from the tiny bottle, but the two full baths on the second level are just right: the one in the master suite, like the kitchen, sports walls of windows above wainscoting, and the second sits cosily between two other bedrooms with access from both. The narrow master bath across the back of the house has a tiled steam shower and a tub with views to the landscaped backyard. 

In fact, that bathroom is actually an enclosed part of the third unusual and appealing bonus: a big wrap-around second-story (mahogany!) porch with access from bedrooms. The bathrooms are part of an apparently recent "modernization" that includes recessed lighting, another space-creating decision (countered, unfortunately, but the distracting fans). 

Front and back staircases lead to a graceful second-floor landing that divides the house with swirling banisters– two bedrooms and a bath on each side, and the washer/dryer stowed cleverly, almost invisibly, in a hall closet.

Apart from the kitchen, the main level is typical: living room, sitting room, dining room, all with wood-burning fireplaces, and the half bath and kitchen. This part of the house seems more like 1860 while the upstairs seems more modern, but it's not a bad contrast. The original heart-pine floors vary in width from room to room; all are beautiful.

Outside are two "dependencies," one with an opening for a woodstove and one with a full fireplace complete with mantle, and the agent says both have water, electricity, and gas for maximum utility: office, guest quarters, au pair space? (Now they're used just for storage, however– some work would be necessary to convert to other uses.) 

Tin roof, two-zone gas heat, large cement-floored, brick-walled basement (with another fireplace)– all extras in a place offering so much to start with.

Crossword fans, try this: "Classy house, irresistible," nine letters. If we reveal that the third letter is "v," does that help?



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