REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Work of art: Stonehenge townhouse paints a bold picture


ADDRESS: 1042 Cheshire Court

NEIGHBORHOOD: Stonehenge, Albemarle

ASKING: $209,825

ASSESSMENT: $195,800


SIZE: 1,965 fin. sq. ft. / 87 unfin.


CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

AGENT: Sinisa Vasquez, Keller Williams, 220-2200

"Fantastic works of art do not convey." While those words do not appear in the listing for this week's house, potential buyers should consider themselves warned. One enters expecting to tour a townhouse, but finds instead a gallery. Every room contains three-dimensional works: dressing mannequins colorfully decorated, window frames merged with photographs, a Citroën driver's-side door mounted on the bedroom wall– getting distracted?

Even with most of the striking art gone, though, much will be left to like. The agent says this is one of the largest units in Stonehenge, a 1970s-era townhouse development tucked into the hills just off Rio Road on the lesser-taxed side of the city-county border.

From what we hear about the difficulty of getting in and out of this neighborhood, "Rio" must be Spanish for "traffic." Once in, though, mature trees and a lack of through traffic afford a pleasant refuge from the workaday hustle and bustle.

Thanks to trees and the developer's deft use of elevation, the dwelling provides a similarly surprising amount of privacy. While the house faces a neighborhood road, several large oaks stand between the road and the deck. The walk-out patio directly beneath the deck is several feet below street level.

For those wishing to live deliberately, a walking path surrounds the neighborhood and leads to Meadow Creek's share of the Rivanna Trail, over 20 miles on which Charlottesville's hikers and mountain bikers can suck all the marrow out of the no-drive hiking life.

Now that the building boom appears on hold for at least a few years, we feel safe divulging that a satellite view of the area behind Stonehenge reveals several hectares of woods, which our local proffer-pushers somehow missed during the last decade's divine quest to build a luxury townhouse and/or condominium for every man, woman, and foolish investor in America.

If we are to believe the mock tombstone erected by a citizen further down Rio after it turns into Park Street, the Meadow Creek Parkway will never be built; perhaps Thoreau, the Lorax, and these trees are all safe.

Back inside after our hike, we find a breakfast bar separating the practical and compact kitchen from the eat-in area. A large window overlooking the staircase lights the way to the bedroom level. While the current owners have chosen to keep the washer and dryer in the basement for the beneficial quadriceps workout, there are laundry hookups up here for anyone willing to undergo a great one-time workout hauling two bulky appliances up two flights.

The owners like the large family room in the tiled basement because it keeps the TV– killer of conversations and brain cells– away from the living levels. A fourth room downstairs (with full bath) works as a guest bed for in-laws, if not the county enforcers: it would be easy, the agent tells us, to make this a legal bedroom.

Although the house has more living space than most detached houses in this area, storage may be problematic. Unless they plan to reserve a bedroom for winter clothes, tools, and shoeboxes brimming with letters from old flames (everybody keeps those, right?), pack rats will need to hold a yard sale or rent a storage unit.

(Speaking of which, if any trend best represents our pointless acquisitiveness, our vote goes to the boom in storage units. Come on, folks– get rid of that third couch, the decades-old tax returns, and those steamy letters from former paramours. Put it on Craigslist– or advertise it in your favorite free weekly paper (like the one in red boxes every Thursday morning).

Although she may be open to selling some of her works, the Artist Alternately Known as the Owner is planning to take most with her. Fortunately, at least one creative project will remain: a raised living room hearth with tile surrounding river rocks, made with help from her father. 

As for the rest? Check the galleries around town– we'll see you there.



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