REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Little Annex: Pony up the big bucks

ADDRESS: 4203 Louisa Road


ASKING: $775,000

2005 COUNTY ASSESSMENT: $160,200


SIZE: 1,603 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 2.0 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Flip Faulconer, Stevens & Company 296-4895

 While mega-million-dollar historic properties west of town like Mirador and Seven Oaks get most of the press, the Keswick-Cismont side of the county has some gems of its own. One, Belcourt Farm, at the corner of Route 22 and Black Cat Road, was originally "Annex Farm," which must have been quite a spread, as it stretched all the way up to and included this little bungalow now called "Little Annex."

The agent's literature promises that the place is a "candidate for historic landmark status" by virtue of its unusual floor plan in an otherwise typical bungalow of the period. Be that as it may, the place is interesting, not least because the owner– who reportedly bought the house in tumble-down condition with the express intention of restoring it– did so in a tasteful and history-friendly way. Buyers interested in preserving original elements of houses– as opposed to obliterating all awkward or inconvenient (or un-trendy) features– will be happy with the work that's been done here.

They probably won't be so happy with the $775,000 price tag for a 1,600-square-foot stucco bungalow on just two acres fronting a busy road. But as we know, location is everything. The agent mentions the house as a potential "weekend getaway" for people who want the combination of proximity to Charlottesville and country serenity.

Presumably, those would be "city folk" from up 29 for whom such high-priced "getaways" are no financial stretch. All the better if they're horsey types– in this little place in this neighborhood they can mingle with the cream of the fox-hunting crowd without the bother of their own stables to muck or trails to clear. The only maintenance here seems to be lawn mowing.

Everything about the house has been updated and squared away: the chimney has been rebuilt– a beautiful job– there's a new septic field and tank; gutters and downspouts are all new; and best of all, the owner opted for new storms and screens for energy efficiency instead of replacing the pretty old wooden windows with the vinyl frights currently in vogue. Rounding out the upgrades are a new water heater, new front porch and columns, and beautiful restoration of the interior oak and pine floors and woodwork.

While the exterior is visually unassuming, with its steeply sloping roof shading the relatively shallow front porch, inside, the impression is of class and elegance. Beautiful wood, natural paint colors, ample original built-ins (including a huge hutch in the dining room), bead board behind open kitchen cabinets, and a small, cozy sunroom created by enclosing a porch next to the kitchen all reflect old Virginia taste and moderation.

Formica counters in the kitchen fit right in (although they might not seem quite right to someone shelling out $775,000), and wood-burning stoves in the living room and in the sunroom also contribute to the natural, unaffected impression.

In addition to the living room, kitchen, sun porch, and dining room, on the first level a small extra room can be a study or den, and a tiny half bathroom tucked two steps down under the stairs marries charm and convenience. 

Upstairs, the three bedrooms include a master with its own full bath, undoubtedly a modification to the original 1925 house. But whatever was sacrificed to create the bathrooms isn't obvious, which is to say, everything fits harmoniously. Small windows created by the unusual roof line are a little disconcerting in the smallest bedroom and in a bath, but if that's the price one has to pay for authenticity, we won't complain.  

Ample storage under the roof and in an attic accessed by a pull-down stairway in the ceiling of one of the bedrooms (a little weird, but that's how it is) are welcome in a house with no basement (space accessed by a crawl under the new deck off the kitchen and sunroom doesn't seem particularly user friendly). There's a utility shed out back, and the property "shares ownership" of a pretty pond. Large boxwoods testify to the house's history, and new plantings promise blooms in the future.

The house is a gem: authentically restored, set amid larger properties with presumably no threat of nearby development, convenient to town, quiet within despite the proximity of Route 22– everything a discriminating buyer might want in a cozy bungalow. Whether the discriminating buyer is willing to drop three quarters of a million on taste and understatement is, of course, the 775,000-dollar question.

Photos by Rosalind Warfield-Brown