REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Batesville perch: No McMansions in charming outpost
Address: 1995 Craig's Store Road
Year Built: 2000
Size: 2,664 fin Sq. ft./ 1,248 unfin. Sq. ft.
Land: 15.23 acres
Agent: Bill Martin, Charlottesville Country Properties, 996-3726
Curb Appeal: 8 out of 10
Trendy Belmont is a real estate hot spot— especially for young singles whose idea of a perfect Friday night is wine tasting at Crush followed by a late night savoring the New York strip at the Local. But if you're not as into the see-and-be-seen scene, sometimes the best real estate to snap up is out in the county. I'm not talking about the nouveau riches palaces in Keswick or the McMansions popping up like mushrooms in Crozet, but about simple out-of-the-way country places where kids can splash in the streams and track mud into the kitchen without mom going postal and calling the cleaning lady on Sunday.
Jim and Jennifer White had such a vision in 2000 when they purchased 15 narrow mountain acres on Craig's Store Road for just $79,900. From this hillside perch, the Whites could see the mountains but not their neighbors— just the way they wanted to live.
The neighbors might enjoy not seeing the Whites as well, especially since animals outnumbered humans on the property. Yes, there were the cockatiel, five cats, and a Bernese Mountain dog, but more importantly, there were llamas. Fifteen of them.
The Whites have since relocated to a larger property (26 acres) in the Shenandoah Valley in order to expand their llama operation, but in the eight years they owned 1995 Craig's Store Road, they built an extensive fencing system (four maze-like acres bordered by four-foot-high split-rail with wire), three run-in sheds, one hay barn, and one stable– plus a two-acre detached garage with an unfinished loft. Oh, and the house.
Built by Free Union-based Charles McRaven, the post-and-beam house is centered on a two-story tavern originally built in the 1790s in East Waterford, Pennsylvania. The old tavern was slated for demolition when McRaven purchased it, took it apart, and rebuilt it on atop the White family's Batesville acreage.
A modern log cabin cradles this older property, giving it more space, higher ceilings and modern accoutrements. An unfinished basement (with concrete flooring and four windows adding natural light) anchors the house, which is topped off by an attic with some storage space and two small carpeted children's bedrooms in blindingly light baby blue and sea green pastels.
The two floors in between are divided into larger, more open public spaces (new construction) and the cozier, private living areas (old log cabin).
The main floor has red oak flooring, big Pella windows overlooking the wood and a large deck (perfect for keeping an eye on the livestock), a vaulted ceiling and a large stone fireplace. A kitchen looks out onto the living room.
Two doorways lead into two smaller rooms (we're now in the old log cabin), one of which the Whites used as a guest bed and bathroom, and a larger room they kept as a TV room. A staircase to the second floor leads up to an open space in white pine overlooking the living room, the laundry room, and a large master bedroom/bathroom suite, with a Jacuzzi tub and large walk-in closet.
One can read more about his former llama farm at burntmountain.com. It was once featured on Animal Planet's That's My Baby, a television show that follows animals through pregnancy, birth, and follow-up. (Jennifer White notes that a lot happened off-camera, so there was considerable acting involved. No word on whether the llamas will be nominated for an Emmy.)
Now, 1995 Craig's Store Road is blessedly free of camera crews and offers a comfortable country hideaway, although the $599,000 price tag— while just $35,800 higher than the assessment— may serve as a compelling argument for buying Batesville land and managing the construction yourself.
Located off Route 250 West, blink-and-you'll-miss-it Batesville is primarily noted for the tasty eats at the Batesville Store and Gourmet Deli. Insiders know about the apple butter— made every fall in industrial-sized copper kettles and stirred by the good citizens of Batesville in volunteer shifts (the late-night shifts fueled by alcohol, with early morning pancakes to follow)— and Christmas caroling held around a bonfire in the empty field across from the Batesville Store.
On a chilly day in late November, I could already see a seven-foot-high woodpile stacked in anticipation of the big event. Whether you drive up to have a look at this quirky, charismatic house, or buy an empty plot for your own castle in the sky, the rural charms of Batesville are definitely worth a second look as Charlottesville becomes more and more crowded.
PHOTOS BY KRISTINA GARCÍA
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