REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Crazy for Crozet: Repair, reuse, rebuild a treasure

ADDRESS: 5854 St. George Avenue


ASKING: $375,000

COUNTY ASSESSMENT: $185,600 (2005)


SIZE: 1,200 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 0.7 acre

CURB APPEAL: 6 out of 10

LISTED BY: Filip Strzelecki of ERA Bill May Realty Co. 434-978-7355

Ten years ago, Crozet seemed like a distant cousin barely related to the larger family of Charlottesville. With virtually no restaurants, traffic lights, or stop signs and offering only the most basic amenities related to errand running, Crozet closed up shop after dark. Sixty years ago, Crozet probably looked pretty much the same. The building boom that occurred then came about thanks to several thriving orchards, the train depot (now the library) and the Crozet School (now Crossroads Waldorf). 

This Crozet bungalow, set way back from the road, retains all the original appeal of that bygone era. Built by the owners' father, it's a simple, solid, one-story affair. The front entrance is crowded by some boxwoods in much need of a trim, so we entered via the sunroom with classic '50s louvered windows. Although it's now empty, it was easy to imagine aluminum picnic chairs and a red and white checkered plastic tablecloth draped across a formica dining set.

As we stepped right into the spacious kitchen, the most notable element was the floor. The concrete block foundation feels as sturdy as the day it was installed; there's not a fissure, crack, or groove anywhere. The plaster walls, on the other hand, show the effects of time and will need upgrading.

The pleasure of viewing older homes (especially those built by an owner) is the visible, distinct personality traits revealed in the design. Along one wall in the kitchen, two permanent brick planters (complete with dirt and plants) add an unusual touch. They surround what used to house a homemade aquarium. Good planning also provided a large pantry with washer/dryer hookup. June Cleaver would be proud.

The large square living room needs a little love, or at least better windows. Dark and somewhat uninviting, its serves as a reminder of what life used to be like before air conditioning and double-paned, triple-hung, tilt-out argon-filled windows. A giant furnace, the sole heat source, takes up one corner.

 A wide hallway leads to two bedrooms and the one full bath. One bedroom has no closet. (The realtor-owned Multiple Listing Service currently debates whether it's permissible to designate any room without a closet a bedroom.) The other bedroom has a closet worthy of several bedrooms. 

 Across the driveway sits a little cottage. Originally a chicken coop, it now serves as an adorable one-bedroom rental unit. Although it's tiny, the first occupants were a couple with four small children who loved it so much they did not want to leave. Since it's tucked into the corner of the property behind the row of houses lined up along St. George Avenue, privacy is the biggest plus. 

A long front yard separates these houses from the rest and makes them seem a tranquil respite from street noises and car lights. One caveat to the purchaser, though: this lot could be a valuable asset in light of Crozet's potential growth to 24,000 (current population about 4,800), but if it's built on, the house in back cannot be lived in, so what was once home to a family of four must become a workshop or garage.

We wonder what Crozet will look like in 10 years. The master plan for developing this area does not include any specific demands for preserving historic buildings. But late last year Albemarle County teamed up with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to locate, identify, survey, and document between 270-300 commercial and residential buildings constructed more than 50 years ago in downtown Crozet. If these two little abodes fit the criteria, then they could get 30 percent tax credits on renovations. 

Maybe that's not enough to get excited about, but in this changing global climate perhaps we should start thinking about recycling our homes as well as our newspapers.

Photos courtesy of the agent