REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Affordable: They said it couldn't be done
ADDRESS: 8669 Schuyler Road
YEAR BUILT: 1912
SIZE: 726 sq. ft.
LAND: 2.0 acres
CURB APPEAL: 5 out of 10
LISTED BY: Dolores Rogers, Real Estate III, 989-3397
Pick your favorite fantasy: finding the fountain of youth, creating power from nuclear fusion, traveling back in history in a time machine, buying a house on two acres in Albemarle for under $80,000.
Now take a deep breath. No, doctors still can't cure the heartbreak of psoriasis. It's not possible to save time in a bottle, or, as John Milton observed, to walk in your own funeral procession. But yes, dear readers, two acres and a livable house in Albemarle can be yours for $79,900... if you're willing to be flexible with your definition of "livable," and if two feet from the Nelson County line counts as "Albemarle."
This little diamond in the rough sits on Schuyler Road (State Route 800) and backs up to the Alberene soapstone company. In fact, the house is one of the few that remain of an original 30 or so the company built for its workers in the early part of the last century. The agent reports that one stipulation the company placed on owners was that– although the company didn't see fit to include it in the original plans– if the house was ever rendered unlivable by fire or other disaster and was rebuilt, the new structure had to include indoor plumbing.
Subsequent owners of this particular house complied: today the original little one-over-one has a bathroom and kitchen tacked on the back. Electric baseboard heat has also been installed, although burns on the heart-pine floor in the first-floor room (and a thimble in the chimney) indicate that a wood stove has been a more popular method of heating over the years.
The pine floors were continued into the kitchen when it was added, providing continuity from room to room and a little charm in an otherwise nondescript area. The original windows have been replaced with vinyl models, presumably in the interest of energy conservation, although also perhaps because the originals were broken or missing. (A neighbor reports that in 1972 this house sold for $1,000 to a couple who raised two children here– without the indoor plumbing!)
The upstairs room, with tongue-and-groove walls, has a decided tilt to the right corner– a visitor estimated a five to ten-degree slant, which the agent attributes to "natural settling" of the house. Be that as it may, it's a distracting aspect a new owner might want to address PDQ– either that or forever chase dropped coins, tie-tacks, etc. into the corner.
The bathroom was added in 1995, the same year the electric service was updated. It has one of those fiberglass tub/shower combos and a sink and toilet. Water supply is no problem– the house is on the town of Schuyler's water system. In addition, there's a pond out back where early residents without the benefit of refrigeration used to stash fish they'd caught in the nearby Rockfish River until it was time to–- what?– roast them on a spit? (It's a little difficult imagining cooking a fish on a wood stove.)
Despite the low price, all the appliances– including an electric stove and fridge– convey, as do what looks like an almost-new washer and dryer in a neat little space under the stairs. The house is being sold to settle an estate and has not been lived in for some time. As a result, the grounds are grown up (recently bush-hogged to allow access), and it's hard tell what's under the overgrowth. A vigorous stand of hostas has prevailed near the front door, and some foot-scuffling revealed a soapstone path leading from the tiny front porch to... somewhere. The exterior clapboard was until recently under shingles, so the wood appears to be in good shape, and the house has a tin roof and gutters, a surprisingly sturdy deck in the back off the kitchen, a crawl-space attic above, and a root cellar below.
An interesting additional fact is that an adjoining two-acre parcel (with the burned shell of another soapstone factory worker's dwelling) is also for sale– for $25,000 (different agent at Charlotte Ramsey realtors). So for around $100,000, buyers looking for a little four-acre farmette with Albemarle schools might really come to believe that the impossible can happen.
They just need to look out for flying pigs when they visit.
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Photos by Rosalind Warfield-Brown