"It just growed": Old and new placidly coexist

ASKING: $760,000

SQUARE FEET: 2362 fin./1076 unfin.

YEAR BUILT: 1790, 1980, 1990, 1999

ADDRESS: 1686 Taylor's Gap Road

NEIGHBORHOOD: North Garden

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Charlotte Ramsey, Prudential Charlotte Ramsey Realtors 296-4831

This place is named "New Hadden," but you could call it "Topsy." Like the little character in Uncle Tom's Cabin, the house, begun in 1790, has passed through many owners, has been added to and changed around– in short, has just "growed."

It's not necessarily a problem that the whole thing doesn't really cohere, but the disparate phases of building make it hard to take in the house as a single entity.

The original part of the house is a typical brick structure of the time, very similar to another old house featured in On the Block, Cochran's Mill (built in 1754) ["Step back in history," September 5, 2002]. A beautiful entry door opens directly into a large living room with the warm red heart-pine floor common to houses of the era.

From this high-ceilinged formal room, a narrow stairway leads up to a single large bedroom, 15 x 40 feet, under the steep metal roof, lighted by beautiful windows at each end. (One neat fact about the house: every window seems to be unique.)

The English basement, with a low ceiling of huge hand-hewn chestnut beams, has a cement floor which the owner, an artist, has painted in a decorative diamond pattern.

 

This room, probably the original kitchen, is currently used as the dining room beside a well-designed modern kitchen in the next part of the house, added in 1980.

Now we're on the basement level of the second phase of building, but because of the lay of the land, the backyard is accessible just beyond the big windows through a glorious enclosed patio room.

There are many good things about the kitchen, designed by David Ramazani: hanging shelves instead of walls of cupboards, which reveal what was the exterior stone of the original basement; cherry counters specially treated to look original and yet stand up to modern use; and a pretty tile floor.

Rounding out the new basement are a powder room with another painted floor, a hidden laundry room– convenient just off the kitchen– a large family room, and the best thing down here: that warm, sunny (even on the snowy day we visited) enclosed patio, with the original brick floor.

On the main level in this addition are the master bedroom and bath with views to the back yard, a second full bath, and steep stairs to another slant-ceiling bedroom. This part of the house, modern and new, is less interesting than the old part. The front door is here, weirdly opening to a hall leading directly to the master bedroom. The owners acknowledge that switching the entrance from this section to the original front door would refocus attention to the 1790 house, where it should be.

But there's more to a house than what's inside, and that's true at New Hadden if it's true anywhere. This house has some of the most unusual terrain we've visited: huge limestone outcroppings dot the property, particularly the back yard, providing wonderful natural foundations for bird sanctuaries, plantings, and comfortable chairs for viewing the distant mountains.

There are two outbuildings: a studio/rental unit with two apartments, and a beautifully crafted three-car garage (post and beam with masterful woodworking) with storage space above.

The novelist and short story writer Peter Taylor once owned this property, and he insisted when he bought it that a nearby old quarry be included in the parcel. Although the recent drought has made swimming in the quarry a questionable proposition, its inclusion in the package seems fitting.

It makes the lay of the land as quirky and unique as the buildings on it.