REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Vicky's secret: 1900 farmhouse hides modern updates
Address: 700 Locust Avenue
Neighborhood: Locust Grove
Year Built: 1900
Size: 2,900 fin. sq. ft.
Land: 0.172 acres
Agent: Laura Winn Smith, Nest Realty Group 434-981-3955
Curb Appeal: 8 out of 10
Skyrocketing real estate prices, population growth, fertile farmland diced into housing tracts– sounds like 21st-century Charlottesville, right? Think again.
That was the 19th century, when Charlottesville's population nearly doubled in 20 years– from 2,838 in 1870 to 5,591 in 1890.
The area grew, too, by incorporating land from Albemarle County, and part of it was Locust Grove, a farm of 500+ acres, which was turned into one of Charlottesville's first suburbs in the 1890s. A real estate publication of the time gushed, "Lots which five years ago could have been bought for three hundred dollars were sold recently for several times more than that sum."
One of the houses built on a tract of the original farm– now Locust Avenue in the Martha Jefferson Historical District– is again for sale, and adding a few zeros continues the progression: it sold for $160,000 in 1989, $252,000 in 1999, and $432,266 in 2001. Almost 10 years later, it's now priced at $839,000.
A large house on a narrow lot, the lot is fully fenced, with low hedges in front (trimmed to let light into the street-facing two-over-two windows) and a small backyard landscaped with a tiny fishpond and brick walkways flanked by a one-car garage.
The house itself feels like a dollhouse in the best sense of the word. White, with mustard trim, and a front porch perfect for lemonade and neighbor-watching, this Victorian has stayed true to form. It's eminently livable— no falling through floorboards or fighting over closet space. Everything has been carefully brought up to the present century while the spirit of the time when men wore hats and women wore bustles has been preserved.
The flooring is all heart pine, the ceilings are high (9'4" downstairs), and the walls are painted in salmon, peach, and sage. The small, street-facing living room is the most elegant, with crown molding and an antique mirror above an ornate fireplace (unfortunately now blocked with tiles of red marble because it can't be resuscitated).
In fact, all the fireplaces have been blocked, as they were built for coal fires. The owner researched their restoration, and was told that none could be converted for traditional use, although gas is an option as well as wood-burning stoves in some.
Each of the fireplaces is slightly different, with the level of ornamentation reflecting the use of the room (a guest or child's bedroom being the simplest). Each of the rooms has a transom over the door to help circulate heat.
Although the living room fireplace is not convertible, the woodstove option is possible for the adjoining room, a study with built-in cabinets and bookshelves, and a door that leads to a flagstone patio in the backyard.
Further down the long hallway, a small full bath is tucked beneath the staircase. To the left, a formal dining room leads into a huge kitchen (remodeled in the nineties, so it's nothing extravagant). But with white glass-front cabinets and a gas stove, it's clean, spacious, and very attractive. There's no pantry, but ample space would seem to allow for some storage units like rolling shelves.
Upstairs two guest bedrooms share a bathroom (large, white, sunny, with a claw-foot tub). A huge master suite, the current owner's legacy to the house, has a very large bedroom with front room and smaller alcove in the back (big enough for a queen-sized bed), pastel pink walls, and windows on three sides. The huge jetted tub in the master bath is surrounded by forest-green tile which also surrounds a separate shower, dual sinks, and a closet toilet (in case you need that extra privacy). A large walk-in (or, more precisely, walk-through) closet connects to the guest bathroom.
On the bus line and walkable to downtown, this little piece of history is comfortable, convenient, and ready for its next family to move in and fill it, once more, with life.
PHOTOS BY KRISTINA GARCIA WADE
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