Quirky: Ivy farmhouse full of surprises

ADDRESS: 2610 Dick Woods Road

ASKING: $499,900

SIZE: 2,380 fin. sq. ft., 595 unfin.



CURB APPEAL: 9 of 10

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

The "village of Ivy" must have been quite a place back in the day. Not to say it's not still quite charming, reminiscent of a little English hamlet... but with the zippy addition of Duner's! Houses in the area are equally eccentric.

For example, whoever built the "Ivy Depot" (which we toured a few months ago) created a rambling, eclectic place with an enormous studio/gym, a kitchen with a two-story-high ceiling, and a giant open bathroom at the top of the stairs.

The Ivyites who built this old farmhouse on Three Chop't or Tree Chopped (now Dick Woods) Road must have had similar proclivities. Among the house's many virtues, the most appealing is the charm of surprise.

From the road, the first impression is tidiness. The gardens, lovingly planned by the current owner, are abloom even in the waning days of summer. Rambler roses dot the split-rail fence in front, Japanese maples hover around an old fish pond, and a 120-year old lightning-struck oak stump surrounded by lavender, daylilies, and other perennials has become a leprechaun's dais.

Inside, the surprises multiply. The front door (moved from the side when the road configuration changed about 50 years ago) opens from the wide, columned front porch to a large entrance hall. But here the stairs, instead of rising at the right or left (or even center), face the door from the back of the hall. A small coat closet hides an unusual red and green stained-glass window, a twin of one upstairs. In the bay-windowed living room to the left, a coal-burning fireplace is surrounded by new bright red tiles, striking in their modernity.

The dining room between the kitchen and living room also has a fireplace, and woodwork on bookshelves on the opposite wall was detailed by a careful carpenter to match the mantel supports. The kitchen beyond opens to a new deck built around a huge maple tree, more evidence of the owner's devotion to her garden. Also on this level is a fully tiled new bathroom with impressionistic blue/green stained glass windows that must make taking a shower there seem like deep-sea diving.

Up the odd forward-facing stairs are three bedrooms and a sleeping porch, which could be another bedroom but for the absence of a closet. The full bath here is just a bath, not as witty as the one downstairs, but perfectly serviceable. Two of the bedrooms are joined by a door, a boon for a young family with a baby. Or a new owner might want to keep the current arrangement, using the back bedroom, with its ample storage, as a study/office. This floor (but not the first) has central air.

An understated recent efficiency addition in the back of the house, sloping down the hill toward Route 250 (the lot goes all the way to the road), could be a rental unit or quarters for a nanny for the above-mentioned new baby. Its metal roof matches the house roof, and its Hardiplank siding blends better than one might expect with the solid stucco of the house. There's a garage next to it, under the deck.

Well, you say, where's the quirky? Wait 'til you get to the basement! Down here is the furnace, kerosene-fired from a big tank just outside the door, which provides baseboard hot-water heat upstairs. Beside it is the water tank (many Ivy dwellers depend on wells) with a purifying system involving salt blocks. Beside the entry door is a long cement trough, puzzling– until the owner explains its use as a convenient cooler for summer watermelons. Where else are you going to find one of those?

The best thing about this house, however, is the current owners, who know its every nook and cranny, and who have made it uniquely their own, from the under-sea bathroom decor to the lush gardens. Alas, the owners do not convey. The buyer will have the heavy responsibility of filling their shoes and continuing the area's tradition of slightly off-beat charm.

Maybe the effort will help Ivy remain its quaint self for a little while longer, protected by its flower market and railroad trestle from the depredations of the monotonous subdivisions creeping up on every side.