Attachment: Hard to part with perfection

ASKING: $840,000

SIZE: 4,000 fin. sq. ft., 1800 unfin.

YEAR BUILT: 1908

ADDRESS: 924 Rugby Road

NEIGHBORHOOD: Rugby

CURB APPEAL: 10 out of a possible 10 (first time!)

LISTED BY: Owner, Douglas Murphy, 295-5334

It's hard to part with something we love, whether the preschool handprint of a beloved child or a memory-filled house where that child was born and raised. In the 95 years since it was built in 1908, this pink stucco property on Rugby Road has had but three owners, surely a testimony to the affection and attachment it has engendered in those families.

It's an attachment that's easy to understand. The house is captivating, from the sweeping view of the front once you're inside its protective hedge, to the striking entrance hall, to the master suite with its heart pine wainscoting and 9 x 14 master bath replete with stained-glass windows and steam shower.

The neo-Tudor residence was designed by architect Eugene Bradbury for Allan Perkins, one of the founders of the law firm McGuire, Woods & Battle. Since then, a large kitchen and two-car garage have been added, and a 1983-84 renovation updated all major systems and added sophisticated stylistic touches such as a curving center staircase, black marble in the master bath, and air conditioning.

New owners will find that nothing needs to be done except to move in and begin enjoying the luxury of the large living and dining rooms off the entrance hall, the huge kitchen with industrial quarry tile floor and granite counters, and the many beautiful koa wood built-in shelves and cabinets.

Merely describing the number and configuration of the rooms in this house cannot do it justice. Sturdy three-brick-thick walls, century-old heart pine floors, marble counters in the "butler's hall" between kitchen and dining room, and museum-quality koa radiator covers are elements unavailable in most high-end houses on the market today.

These and other charms such as original bathroom sinks; wood-burning (not odious "gas log") fireplaces; long, alluring window seats in the kitchen, living room, and first-floor office; and a huge attic with built-in queen bed and seemingly miles of under-eaves storage shelves make this a one-of-a-kind property. Add in casement windows uncluttered by mullions for maximum light and view, and you have a house to live in for well, for as long as you possibly can.

The side yard is a separate lot available only to the buyer of the house ($125,000). Off the kitchen, a huge deck, high above the slightly sloping yard, offers a winter view of Brown's Mountain and a summer hideaway of complete privacy.

The basement used to shelter the butler and the maid (we hope they were a married couple, in 1908!), but would now make a perfectly serviceable nanny's quarters or mother-in-law suite with its full bath and generous space. It needs a lot of work, however, standards for "help" having changed over the years.

Unaccustomed as we here at On the Block are to falling in love so intemperately, we feel obligated to report on a few flaws. (But we hasten to add that they're like the slightly crooked tooth a smitten suitor finds so endearing in a beloved adorable in their very imperfection.) The laundry facilities are inexplicably placed smack at the top of the elegant, gracefully curving staircase. Up you climb, expecting to find Eden around the last curve, but instead you run the risk if the bi-fold doors have been left open of running into a damp Wonderbra and a box of Ivory Snow.

But this is quibbling for the sake of quibbling. If you have $960,000 languishing in a one-percent savings account, you'd do well to withdraw it this afternoon and head for Rugby Road.

As you recline on one of the window seats or entertain your friends on the arch-enclosed patio, you'll vow that it will be a long time before you allow family number five to take possession of your treasure.