REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- <span class="s1">Stucco in time: Same as it ever was in Ivy</span>
ADDRESS: 915 Owensville Road
2005 COUNTY ASSESSMENT: $228,700
YEAR BUILT: 1880
SIZE: 1408 fin. sq. ft.
LAND: 1.4 acres
CURB APPEAL: 7 out of 10
LISTED BY: Owners Don and Kimberly Skelly 981-6648 or 540-832-0364
Standing on the edge of Owensville Road to get a full frontal view of this house is courting disaster. Cars career past at wicked speeds, unaccustomed to lowly pedestrians checking out the local real estate. The original parking space left little room for error, but the current owners have carved out a larger driveway on the other side of the house, away from traffic, where kids and groceries can be more easily maneuvered.
Even so, entering from the shaded, stucco front porch seems much nicer than using the kitchen entrance. Built for the farm manager of Locust Hill, Meriwether Lewis' birthplace, the house has pleasantly remained relatively unchanged. A straight-on front view does reveal a slight outline in the stucco where a second entrance used to be. Characteristic of the time when people often worked and lived in one place, the side-by-side doors kept the activities separate.
True to form, the first thing one stumbles upon is a two-sided fireplace. The current owner thinks a wall must have divided the space originally, but today the downstairs rooms are conjoined by the hearth. People who have attended parties at the house report that the crackling fire viewed from two rooms created a convivial atmosphere. The rooms are small but well-proportioned. The windows are large and original and have been painstakingly stripped of years of accumulated paint to reveal their 19th century craftsmanship.
Former residents say the best spot was in the dining room where they "could sit and watch the herds of deer at the apple trees in the back." Now, though, the deer have been replaced by a neighbor's horse ring and a different kind of herd.
The recent renovation includes central air conditioning, a dual fuel heating system, and new dishwasher and gas range– nothing fancy, just the basics of modern living.
Another former resident still curses the stairs: he fell down them once and cracked some ribs. Fortunately, the current owners hired a New Zealand boat builder who took eight meticulous months to rebuild the entire flight with the result that the stairs are no longer a safety hazard.
The second floor continues the simple theme. A large open landing could have myriad uses, not including a bedroom. Two other rooms with adjoining bathroom seem perfectly suited for a couple or maybe a small family. Deep closets are a surprise, although the house would look authentic with armoires and chifforobes. The walls and ceilings have been completely redone with horsehair plaster over lathing. There is no drywall. Original doors, floors, and hardware have been spared constant upgrading and are still in excellent condition.
The outdoors still retains some history with mammoth magnolias and buxom boxwoods scattered about. Beyond the new parking area, a wide lawn edged in stately evergreens buffers the house from a few nearby. A spacious back deck, accessed from the kitchen, supplies nice overflow for summer evening dinner parties.
All in all, the place presents a captured sense of authenticity. These days, many smaller, older homes sport blocky appendages and wind up looking like Lego castles. Not this house. The extras are not measured in square footage but in the continuous care each owner has so obviously lavished during his tenure. With houses getting bigger and families getting smaller, it's nice to know some places have enjoyed only incremental change.
At Locust Hill: same as it ever was.
Photos courtesy of the owner