Locust lair: Time to move downtown?

ASKING: $639,000

SIZE: 3996 fin. sq. ft./ 808 unfinished

YEAR BUILT: 1917

ADDRESS: 975 Locust Avenue

NEIGHBORHOOD: Locust Grove

CURB APPEAL: 7 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Roger Voisinet of RE/MAX Realty Specialists

434-974-1500

Even the disturbance created by the Locust Bridge deconstruction/reconstruction can't stop this neighborhood's appeal. A wider-than-average avenue flanked on both sides by an assortment of architect-designed homes just begs to be duplicated elsewhere. That some residential areas are designed with only four house styles to choose from should raise flags for the character-seeking home shopper. Here, though, rubber necking becomes de rigeur as each house flaunts its personal style.

Beyond the bypass, Locust Avenue goes nowhere. Walking the dog, jogging, and other duties of daily life can be accomplished without the hassle of dodging traffic. This house sits on a corner a block north of the bypass. Grand but not haughty, it fits in well with its surrounding brethren. Part of the front yard has been carved into a semi-circular driveway to allow for off-street parking; surely a good thing considering the seven-bedroom potential that lurks inside.

The entrance doesn't scream at you for attention, and a wide wraparound porch suitable for a hammock brings the comforts of home outside. Inside, it's a regular house, just bigger. No real distinction, just space. The entrance opens up to two formal/family rooms each with working fireplaces. Behind these the house continues on in ever-widening scope.

Turning left off the front hall starts you on a circular route through the house, starting with a sunny dining room with bay window and leading into an eat-in kitchen, all super-sized. A sleeping porch off the back, screened on three sides, should be built on every house in Virginia. These 'rooms' are the most pleasant way to avoid both irritating insects and temperature-controlled vats of urban living. To the side of this room a large walk-in pantry (another must-have) with washer and dryer keeps all those staples out of the way without cluttering space.

Continuing on the roundabout, one walks into the first bedroom. Two walls of windows with built-in bookshelves below has "beach house" written all over it (figuratively of course). The view, however, is the street– kind of a goldfish bowl effect. An adjoining full bath leads to another "bed" room. Easily transferable to an office/den depending on future needs.

Upstairs, the spaciousness continues. A wide landing leads one into a full bath as well as two bedrooms. Obviously, there's plenty of room here for the whole Brady Bunch. Another bedroom of similar size becomes the master suite with the addition of a newly renovated bathroom. Deluxe comes to mind as does the sound of kids running around. This house was built for action and could easily withstand the onslaught of several generations co-habitating.

Situated on nearly half an acre, even outside offers numerous retreats to extend the living area. A covered space for a single car also hides an entrance to an apartment. Currently carved into two bedrooms, full bath, kitchen, living, and laundry rooms, it is a rather grand entity unto itself. There is also a large, detached, two-car garage with garden storage room as well as a dog kennel in the rear of the property.

Despite the size, none of it overwhelms with pretension or uselessness. One imagines all the space here being utilized and loved. Walking the perimeter is a stately experience and a neighborly one. Living this close to two streets means there's a pretty continual flow of people and cars. A glassed-in bulletin board located on the edge of this property is routinely posted with up-to-date notices keeping other residents informed of Locust Grove associations and goings-on. One notice in particular caught our attention: "Lost Chicken." Hopefully, community action can return that loose fowl to its proper owner.

During our visit, we found it easy to stay on the front porch and chat with other visitors to the open house. Surely for those seeking an active social life, one that involves borrowing eggs from the neighbors, this house fits the bill quite nicely.