Compound interest: History and commerce meet in Louisa

ADDRESS: 17653 Louisa Road

ASKING: $299,000

SIZE: 3146 fin. sq. ft., 500 unfin.



CURB APPEAL: 7 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Joan Jay, Roy Wheeler Realty Co. 951-5155

In our book, this property in Louisa County qualifies as a compound. It's composed of a large old Victorian farmhouse, a garage, and a very interesting outbuilding that was once a country store but– with the help of a spacious two-story addition– now has all sorts of potential.

In fact, potential is the name of the game here– potential and history. The property is zoned commercial, apparently because right across the road is a BP station, right next door is an old train station/post office, and across the back greensward is a recycling center. (Not to worry– it's spotlessly clean and far enough away to be unsmellable.)

First, the history. The original train station was apparently the prize in the Civil War Battle of Trevilians Station, and its 1882 replacement is the oldest continuously operating main station in the state. Empty trains rumble through three times a day, headed back to West Virginia to be refilled with coal.

A large tract of land across the tracks has been purchased by a platoon of Civil War re-enactors, so in addition to the whistle, it's possible new owners will wake up or go to sleep to rifle fire or maybe a booming cannon. But that also means that the property is safe from development, and the countryside ambience will remain despite the commercial designation (C-3).

That brings us to that big outbuilding. The current owners added it to accommodate an embroidery and airplane restoration business (don't ask), but it's so big that all sorts of things could easily happen in there– a bed and breakfast, a job requiring telecommuting (it's all wired), an artist's studio, or maybe a bunch of ladies mending the shredded woolens of some later-day Johnny Reb.

The main house itself is a typical Victorian, nicely updated. The pine floors have been redone upstairs and down and the entry hall has functioning pocket doors. The big two-over-two windows, many original, let in lots of light. One sad note is that the original (coal) fireplaces have been retooled for gas logs, always a disappointment.

The kitchen renovation involved adding a wrap-around room (laundry, workspace, half bath), but leaving the original kitchen windows, so that the space, all white and shiny, is very bright. In fact, it's probably the second most appealing feature downstairs, after big double parlors to the left of the entrance hall.

One of them is being used as the dining room, because the original dining room was turned into a "family room" with one of those unappealing gas fires. But, with its pretty wainscoting, it could probably easily be returned to its original use.

The backstairs typical of the era lead up to four bedrooms and two full baths, one (new) with a shower, and the original one with an old clawfoot tub to keep the Victorian vibe going amid all the updates. A pull-down staircase leads to an enormous attic.

Zoned heat is provided by radiators, fueled by a 1000-gallon buried propane tank. Central air, a ceiling fan or two, and nice unobtrusive plantings around a wide wrap-around porch complete the picture.

Yes, it is 25 miles away. But considering how much is packed onto these 2.6 acres, an enterprising history-lover really should consider taking a look.