Colorful corner: Pistachio house catches the eye

ADDRESS: 707 Forest Street

ASKING: $155,000

SIZE: 1,556 square feet



CURB APPEAL: 6 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Nancy Sherman of Roy Wheeler Realty Company 951-5155

While most neighborhoods in Charlottesville have already undergone a complete revamping, a few others have stayed undisturbed (so far). Driving around the Rose Hill area, one sees little evidence of the mania that has swallowed Belmont and has Fifeville in its maw. No colossal Victorians to become pet projects for developers, no groovy bungalows for the artistic– just street after street of small, post-World War 11 ranchers waiting for the axe to fall.

The streets are wide and lazy. Intersections can be navigated with just the slightest tap to the brakes. And lo and behold, sidewalks! Whatever happened to the sidewalk? While cars and bikes have displaced feet as a mode of transportation, sidewalks still seem useful. Coming up to this house evoked a pleasant 1950s feel.

Stucco painted a shade reminiscent of Oz's Wicked Witch adds visual interest compared to the beiges so popular on newer homes these days. Adding more color to the neighborhood, a house two doors down is a striking shade of pumpkin. Here, a chain link fence surrounding the house and yard provides a sense of security and relative privacy. The wide and inviting front porch has probably seen much social action thanks to the corner location.

Inside, the front room provides a mix of promise tinged with exasperation. Shiny pine floors and new windows win the "most appealing" award. The rest should garner, at least, a "good try" nod. The original three rooms downstairs– - living, dining, and kitchen– are quite serviceable. While they're certainly not grand, one could live in them while fixing up the rest.

Acoustic tiles have dropped the ceiling to somewhere around seven feet, making anyone over six feet feel gargantuan. Plaster walls, although offering superior insulation, appear to have been erected with no awareness of right angles. But these small details give the place a funhouse effect.

Along the back, an addition expands the square footage considerably. Unfortunately, that's about the only nice thing to say about it. Grim and gloomy with paneled walls (even around the water heater), brown carpeting, a makeshift closet, and the tiniest bathroom (one visitor said the sink was so small he could only wash one hand at a time), it had us all beating a fast retreat. But it seems the work that needs to be done is only cosmetic, and this area could pretty easily become what it was intended to be: a family room and an extra bedroom.

Upstairs set off more alarms, although on closer inspection we found that most of the work that needs to be done also appears manageable. One problem: Up here, even a six-footer has to duck to avoid disaster. Two decent-sized bedrooms with similar wavy plaster walls could be spruced up quite easily. The full bathroom raises some interesting questions, as it appears the tub, toilet, and sink were all made for a first-grader. No matter, there's enough space to expand.

The corner location provides quite a bit of yard, with a garden spot and a shed. But frigid temperatures and three starving, abandoned cats wailing near the doorstep discouraged us from venturing further. Suffice to say, it looked nice– great for kids and cared-for pets.

All in all, it's a funky little homestead. It needs work, but at this price, what doesn't today? "Affordable housing" has become in Charlottesville one of those statements favored by the authorities but hard to find on the street. In many towns of similar size across the nation, this type of house could be had for a song; in Charlottesville, unfortunately, it might still be a stretch for a family of modest means.

One imagines the neighbors hoping that just such a family moves in and revives the front porch socials of days gone by.