Hoof it: Bag the commute, save your life

 ASKING: $619,000

SIZE: 2665 fin. sq. ft.

YEAR BUILT: 1910

ADDRESS: 428 Second Street, NE

NEIGHBORHOOD: North Downtown

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Larry Herbert of McLean Faulconer, Inc.

434-295-1131

Driving along Second Street NE downtown can make one sigh, either with longing to take a peek inside these historical wonderlands or with relief because you are almost home. Although not all these houses have slipped inside the historical landmark envelope, each one has the stamp of individuality.

As traffic congestion continues to worsen and construction sites appear daily, one can easily fantasize about a little stroll to work down a tree-lined avenue where neighbors wave and everyone knows your name.

So this house with its creamy yellow stucco façade rising from the street in Georgetown-esque grandeur is a sight for sore eyes, indeed. Girded on either side by massive trees, the front steps provide sounds of chittering birds that obliterate the noises of downtown buzzing in the distance.

First impressions, as they say, tend to last longest, and just inside the front door, the 10-foot ceilings soar above all else. The layout of the rooms does not really excite, as the usual living and dining rooms and kitchen are pretty much the same here as elsewhere.

A bonus point, though, is the fact that the rooms are octagonal, which makes furniture placement a sort of artistic challenge. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves add to the livability. Also, the radiators have handy coverings that double as shelf space for telephones and whatnot.

A space at the back of the house (once a tiny kitchen) reached through a Mr. Ed door (also known as a Dutch door), celebrates the sun with a six-foot long bow window and accompanying seat, a nice bonus for those lingering moments between cooking and eating.

Two exits to two back patios are nicely shrouded in shrubbery to promote privacy (which is otherwise almost impossible in this densely populated neck of the woods), and a side garden with table and chairs for six could easily be the site of a memorable evening party.

The brand new kitchen with a solid granite wraparound bar and counter space galore had us dreaming up crudities and tea sandwiches à la Martha Stewart.

The second floor pretty much duplicates the main rooms downstairs, which translates into three nice sized bedrooms. Angled walls throughout give a labyrinthine feel to what would otherwise be a fairly plain floor plan. A separate, full bath with a Mediterranean blue tiled floor adds a touch of the exotic to all the spaciousness.

But behind a door off the landing is the real boon. Another flight of stairs opens into a converted architecturally designed studio/master suite. Possible uses could be an artist's atelier, a nanny's apartment, a library, a children's playroom, or its current obvious incarnation, a master bedroom. The full bath could keep someone entertained up here for hours.

A complete wall of windows provides a bird's eye view of several blocks of Court Square. The spire of First Presbyterian Church rises like a beacon above the roofs just like in those posters of quaint villages in New England.

The house really isn't that big, but in agent-speak, it does "show well." Each room gives the impression of being regularly used. Formal and informal combine well here. The overall feeling of the house is comfort. Plenty of space for everyone to hide their stuff, as well as warm gathering spots for family fun and entertainment.

And, of course, the location could take years off your life by saving a hideous-and-getting-worse commute, with movies, libraries, and restaurants just a couple of blocks away.