REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- High grade: Arty updates make old schoolhouse classy


Address: 4382 Mechum's School Hill

Neighborhood: Mechum's River

Asking: $639,500

Assessment: $525,300

Year Built: 1903 (?)

Size: 2,635 fin. sq. ft. 

Land: 3.64 acres 

Agent: Tommy Brannock, Real Estate III, 434-981-1486

Curb Appeal:  9 out of 10

Once a thriving community with a train depot, general store, inn, and small industries (tomato cannery, sand quarry, flour mill, and broom factory), this little enclave near the Mechum's River declined in the early 1900s and was subsumed into nearby Ivy. 

One remnant of the former town— an old one-room schoolhouse (the agent suggests 1903 as a likely construction date)— has been expanded, updated, and is now for sale. Located just off Route 250 (traffic is unfortunately audible from the backyard), the house has come a long way from its humble roots. 

The original schoolroom has been turned into a large living area connected by a long hallway to a two-story addition with two bedrooms and baths. The current owner uses the hallway as a gallery. 

The first floor of the addition has a sitting room with a door leading to the backyard, and the two bedrooms share a bathroom. This floor can be shut off from the rest of the house, and the owner rents the complex as "The Mechum's River Suite" for $250/$300 per night through Guesthouses.

The master bedroom above the guest suite is accessible via a stairway from the hall. At the landing, two wooden shutters provide a view of the hallway gallery below. The shutters are large, starting just a few feet off the floor, so they'll need to be kept shut when small children are about. 

The master bedroom is ample and pleasant, with a private screened-in porch, perfect for sultry summer nights. 

In the bathroom, with gold accents and white tiles covering the lower half of the walls, sheer white curtains hide a large bath, and four mirrored doors mask extra closet space. Since the house has no basement and the attic is little more than crawl space, closets like these and a linen closet in the sitting room are thoughtful and welcome additions. Another closet off the hallway houses the washer and dryer.

The original schoolroom, now the main living/dining area, with heart-pine flooring, has 12-foot ceilings, a skylight, and nine-foot windows. Built-in speakers are installed throughout. Painted a neutral almond color, the walls dividing the living room from the hallway stop several feet below the ceiling for an open, sunny feel. A wood-burning fireplace has a sage-colored mantle and a hearth of black granite. 

To the left, the original master suite has become a large library with built-in bookshelves. It seems a bit odd to have a shower off the library, but the library is beautiful and has its own half bath. 

On the opposite side of the central room, the galley kitchen (the former front door of the schoolhouse, now on the side of the building, provides access) has a pass-through to the dining area. With glass panes covering the cupboards, the space is functional and pretty, even if the appliances are dated. 

This time of year, the 3.64 acres are edged with lilies and daffodils; raised beds grace the sunny front yard, and woods beyond beckon for exploring. One corner of the property borders a shared swimming hole. 

Civil War troops spent a night under the trees here in 1862, before Stonewall Jackson sent them on the train to Staunton to fight in the Battle of McDowell, according to a neighbor who lives in a nearby 15-bedroom house, formerly the community inn. 

So for Civil War buffs, the house offers not only beauty and an income, but also a slice of history.



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