REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Editor's house: Rugby gem needs to be revised
Address: 1900 Edgewood Lane
Neighborhood: Rugby, in Charlottesville
Year Built: 1931
Size: 1,967 fin Sq. ft. / 610 unfin. Sq. ft.
Land: 0.23 acres
Agent: Tommy Brannock, Real Estate III, (434) 981-1486
Curb Appeal: 5 out of 10
One day shy of her 100th birthday, Charlotte Kohler, long-time editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, died last September, leaving behind no immediate survivors and a quaint house on Edgewood Lane in the care of her goddaughter. Although located in a posh neighborhood within walking distance of UVA, the house has seen better days (like in the 1950s) and is in need of a renovation. But like any well-to-do lady, the house's bone structure is good.
The spacious dining room has built-in bookshelves, and the long living room opens up to an overgrown flagstone patio and garden with a brick outdoor hearth. I'd call a demo crew to tear down the whitewashed log cabin next to the house, but with a little work, the garden could be a private retreat, perfect for indoor/outdoor parties.
The house has a master bed and bath wing added when stairs became unwieldy for Dr. Kohler, but like all the others in the house, this bathroom needs be to be redone. So does the basement, which still sports an old Kelvinator icebox and signs on the cabinets that say "John" in four languages. At first I thought these were children's names, but no: the childless and quirky Dr. Kohler had "Johannes" and "Giovanni" pointing to the basement's WC.
Full of nooks and crannies, this house feels ripe for exploring. In the two upstairs bedrooms— painted pink and baby blue— low ceilings match the roof's eaves. Several windows have window seats with storage underneath; one has a narrow desk with drawers.
The pink bedroom has a small rectangular room attached— the maid's quarters?— that could turn into a charming study. A small den to the rear of the foyer provides a quiet hideaway.
Genteel and charming, stuffed to the gills with old magazines that picture green grass and cherry-cheeked children, this house still bears the character of its former owner who was born at the turn of the last century and attended Vassar before waltzing off to Europe with dreams of becoming a great American writer.
With only a few pages to show on her return home, Kohler enrolled in graduate school at UVA, and in 1936 became the first woman elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After earning her PhD, she did a teaching stint in North Carolina (Staunton's Mary Baldwin College wouldn't have her because she drank and smoked) before she was invited, in 1942, to work at the Virginia Quarterly Review.
Although originally hired because of her "war-proof" status as a woman, Kohler went on to a successful 33-year career at the prestigious literary magazine, becoming one of the first to discover such talents as Nadine Gordimer and Adrienne Rich. After her retirement in 1975, Kohler reportedly became a quiet recluse, declining interviews and invitations.
The house's heyday was celebrated in gentler times, and it shows. It doesn't seem to have been updated in 50 years, which has some advantages (antique enamel sink and cabinets in the kitchen) as well as some drawbacks (antique appliances).
The wide pine flooring needs a good waxing, and new owners may decide to repaint the pastel bedrooms or tear down the flower-and-fowl printed wallpaper. At $519,000, the house is priced under its assessment; similar-sized places in the area are above $700,000.
Admittedly, the house needs some work to bring it into the 21st century. But all of this shouldn't make up the $200,000 difference between this house and other renovated properties in the area. Buyers willing to get their hands dirty should take a look.
PHOTOS BY KRISTINA GARCÍA
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