Walls of ivy: Easy maintenance in Greenbrier

ADDRESS: 2239 Brandywine Drive

ASKING: $291,700

SIZE: 2476 fin. sq. ft., 100 unfin.

YEAR BUILT: 1971

NEIGHBORHOOD: Greenbrier

CURB APPEAL: 7 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Alice Nye Fitch Montague, Miller & Co. 951-7133

When people hear the word "subdivision" today, they likely think of county upstarts like Cory Farm or upscales like Glenmore. Not many people realize that Greenbrier, a part of the city everyone takes for granted as just that– a part of the city– was an early Charlottesville subdivision, a place for folks branching out from the center to create their little piece of paradise.

According to the City's website, the 649-acre Greenbrier neighborhood was developed as approximately one dozen separate subdivisions arranged to form a cohesive community. The majority of the neighborhood was annexed by the City from Albemarle County in 1963.

This sturdy brick house, built in 1971, fits neatly into the neighborhood of single-family houses on medium-size lots. The agent calls it a "raised ranch." Essentially, it's a split level, but the steep hill makes what might on another lot be a basement level so far above ground as to permit windows and walkout access. People who grew up in the '60s know the benefits and drawbacks of this design.

Oak floors, two working fireplaces, two baths with honest-to-goodness tile tub and shower surrounds and floors (and one with honest-to-goodness tile lookalike shower surround), and generous closet space are characteristics of the era. Also characteristic, unfortunately, is a tiny kitchen and that set of stairs to be negotiated every time you come in the front door.

What could have been an outdated feel in a kind of house that is almost a cliché, however, is mitigated by a recent complete interior renovation: all new fixtures, every room freshly painted with contemporary colors, recessed lighting, and tightly packed sod laid in the backyard.

Outside, the house boasts a little individuality that separates it from its similar neighbors. While the backyard is technically just a small patio leading to a stone retaining wall holding up the steep hill, there's a sturdy-looking child's tree-house up there, and the immediate area is ivy-covered, obviating the dreary need for mowing.

Attractive plantings and big trees soften the effect of the tall brick front and ease the break between sod and house at the back. Oh, and there's even a dog kennel for prospective buyers with pets instead of tots. In short, exterior maintenance issues have been thought out and addressed.

The house has a recent shingle roof, central AC, forced air heat fueled by city gas, and a circular driveway leading almost up to the front door. The "family room" required back in the day has paneling (also typical of the time) but it has been painted white and almost fools you if you don't look closely. Another tromp l'oeil effect is laminate wood flooring, which, snuggled up next to real oak, passes effortlessly for the real thing.

According to city records, there is one house on the local historic register located in the Greenbrier neighborhood. The original section of the log dwelling located at 1615 Keith Valley Road is one of the few 18th century structures remaining in Charlottesville. Many people would kill to have a house of that vintage with all its quirky uniqueness. But there's only one of them in Greenbrier, and as far as we know, it's not for sale.

There are many of these more recent homes available, however, with proximity to the University, to the businesses on 29, to Greenbrier Elementary and CHS, to the Rivanna Trail, and to Greenbrier Park. And this is one of the most appealing of the lot.