Channeling Bette: Live like a leading lady in Staunton

Address: 1320 N. Augusta Street
Neighborhood: Gibbs Hill, Staunton
Asking: $675,000
Assessment:  $435,000
Year Built: 1915
Size: 4,553 fin. sq. ft.  /1,390 unfin.
Land: 0.52 acres
Agent: Allen Persinger Jr. - Premier Properties 540-448-3145
Curb Appeal: 9 out of 10

The buyer of this house will see life improve dramatically.

Even a buyer who isn't the inimitable Bette Davis descending a staircase in a satin gown– or a sleek gent in a smoking jacket– will be able to adapt this house easily to today's lifestyle of yoga mats, sneaks, and soccer shin-guards.

The American Craftsman house design banished the stuffy elegance and busy curlicues of the Victorian era and replaced it with sturdy, hand-crafted houses that stood solid and useful, their beauty enhanced by both function and durability. Large exposed beams and big pantries and kitchens– all with indigenous materials– are hallmarks of the style. Often called the Craftsman-Bungalow, this style was a long-standing trend in architecture: Bernard Maybeck designs snagged huge prices, movie stars moved in, and the term "bungalow" became a misnomer for a house so impressive.

This imposing timber-faced stucco and stone structure is a dream of a house sitting well back from the street on a swell of ground. Up the front steps, an oversized solid oak door opens to a scene both grand and alluring. One sweep of the eye takes in an entrance foyer with 10-foot beamed ceiling and a super-sized staircase with art deco light fixtures. 

The dining room on the right has built-in glass-front china cabinets, smooth maple floors, and diamond leaded-glass casement windows that prompt dreams of holiday dinners for 10 or 12– with room for the kids' table nearby.

The living room, 22 x 12, seems even larger thanks to recessed window seats and plenty of light. An imposing gas-log river-stone fireplace (with remote) creates a room both venerable and cozy.

Over the last eight years or so, the owners have meticulously brought each detail of the house back to its initial Class A status. Solid brass fittings for all windows and doors gleam as if new. Lustrous floors, subtle colors, and a refreshed powder room provide backdrop for a new peach kitchen– with electric grill, granite counters, double sink, warming drawer, and two dishwashers– all designed for a serious cook.

The upstairs offers a master suite that's true to its name: an expansive bedroom flowing into a lush bathroom and on to a walk-in closet. Beyond that, the master couple can enjoy a large media room/den. Three other large bedrooms, two full baths, and plenty of storage are also upstairs in perfect order and painted sumptuous colors.

Though the house is a mature grande dame, there's a back staircase to the kitchen (for hide-and-seek), an (almost) secret door from the third bedroom, and an old-timey basement in wine cellar-perfect condition. A covered walkway leads to a massive game room over the three-car garage. Yes, three-car.

Back in 1915, people knew a thing or two about space, comfort, and style. So, after a hard day, new owners of this beauty will be able to slip into something comfortable and share a glass of something cool; Miss Davis will be down soon. 

It's clear that when she spoke the immortal line, "What a dump,"  she was in a lousy house somewhere else, far away from 1320 Augusta Street in Staunton.
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