REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- How sweet it is: A honey of an in-town hideaway

ADDRESS: 435 North Third Street

NEIGHBORHOOD: North Downtown

ASKING: $865,000

2006 CITY ASSESSMENT: $626,200


SIZE: 2,160 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 0.113 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

LISTED BY: Nick Michaels, Keller Williams Realty, 220-2200

Privacy is the hallmark of this property. Thanks to dense front-yard plantings, the most visible part of the house is its big white second-story sleeping porch; the rest of the place is hidden. Which is why most people strolling along Third Street are probably not aware that a private world of beauty exists so close to the noise and traffic of Jefferson and Park streets. And many people might consider that one of its main attractions.

But behind the waist-high stone wall and tall hedges, many other charms, inside and out, make the place a treasure. Foremost among them is a back-yard secret garden, a totally enclosed enclave with koi pond, pergola, trellises, and brick walls. Tall Second Street houses loom over the yard, but they seem to provide protection rather than intrude on the tranquility. Because of the situation of the house against a slight rise, a charming little patio at the foot of the garden is high above the street but just outside the back door. Early morning coffee or summer afternoon coolers out here would provide a private, relaxing beginning or end to any day. 

The front yard behind the hedges echoes the serpentine elements of UVA pavilions– with boxwoods and a small winding path, and the street-level garage out front is removed enough from the rest of the property to provide convenience without interrupting the cloister-like feel.

Inside, the house is just as self-contained, but without any sense of restriction or confinement. French doors in almost every room admit light even on the short winter afternoon of our visit. The entry hall opens to a large living room with glowing oak floors, built-in cabinets and bookcases, wood-burning fireplace, and a ceiling fan centered in an ornate medallion. The house has oil-fired radiator heat, but no central air, so the fans (which we would ordinarily disdain) are probably necessary in the height of summer.

Off the living room, a long narrow sun porch with Deco-ish black and white vinyl tiles, a sink, and skylights is of indeterminate vintage– the agent is not sure if it's original or an addition. French doors and a cut-out pass-through to the dining room reinforce a feeling of openness despite the fact that outside the windows only greenery is visible.

Behind these rooms, a large space with brown tile floor and high casement windows is characterized as a "garden room," but a new owner might want to consider expanding the current serviceable but small (by contemporary standards) kitchen into this area. A beautiful 12-pane door leads from here to an interior dining room without windows.

The kitchen is old-school without being out of date. Cabinets (and gadgetry) are probably not original but aren't exactly au courant either. Unusual columns have been added for interest, but they seem a little out of joint with the elegant simplicity of the rest of the house. Glass-front cabinets, butcher-block countertops, and new appliances complete the package.

A full bath on this level has beadboard wainscoting and is situated next to a mudroom with an entrance from the garden. 

Upstairs, the master bedroom (with corner sink, another old-school touch) adjoins the elaborate front sleeping porch. Another small bedroom here could be a sewing room or nursery. The element of interest on this level, however, is a large, newly added artist's studio with skylights and many windows. While at first glance the space doesn't seem compatible with the rest of the house, its views of the backyard garden provide a tie-in that mitigates the disjointed feel.

Up a narrow set of stairs, the third level attic space has painted wood floors, a third full bath, and big skylights providing views of the beautiful neighboring houses. Closets and dormers provide ample storage. In the utility basement, a brand new washer and dryer convey.

This is one house for which a simple room-by-room description is inadequate. The combination of beautiful garden and unusual design and layout makes this a property that buyers in this price range really need to see for themselves.

It's the intangibles that make the place so appealing, and those are the hardest things to describe. The agent uses the term "Georgetownesque," which might say as much as all these words together.

Photos by Rosalind Warfield-Brown


1 comment

The finished square footage in this home is actually 2669 SF, not the 2160 reported in the article. There is an additional 428 SF in the basement.