Easy as ABC: One-room school transformed

ADDRESS: 1314 Reas Ford Road

ASKING: $199,900

BUILDING: 1,264 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 2.01 acres



CURB APPEAL: 7 of 10

LISTED BY: Donna Goings of Prudential Charlotte Ramsey 296-7171 or 981-9367

There's lots of real estate activity out on Reas Ford Road, undoubtedly because of the mountain views. This little schoolhouse-turned-farmhouse is no exception. Distant mountains make the sweep of backyard one of its strongest selling points.

The house itself is pretty straightforward. It served the community until the mid-'40s as the one-room "Lone Pine School." According to the agent, a Morris family owned much of the land on Route 660 on this side of Woodlands Road, and after its stint as a schoolhouse the place became a tenant house for workers on the Morris spread. The current owner's wife grew up in the house and worked for the family.

Sometime after the '40s, an addition was hitched to the back that added a bathroom, kitchen, and large room used over the years variously as den, dining room, or (now) bedroom. Originally, the occupants relied on a woodstove for cooking as well as heat, and the evidence of its connection is still apparent in one of three chimneys in the house– between that large room and the kitchen.

Only one of the chimneys is working– it serves a wood-burning fireplace in the living room in the original front part of the house. Two bedrooms have been carved out of what was probably the school's original "one room," making a grand total of two bedrooms, living room, dining room, small bath, and kitchen. A large covered cement back porch on the side of the house undoubtedly provides welcome extra "spread-out" space in good weather for suppers or just relaxing in a rocker.

There are some nice touches here, as would be expected of a house of this vintage: oak floors, the longest claw-foot tub we've ever seen (it must be five or six feet long), a large magnolia tree and grapevines in the yard, and a standing-seam metal roof. Out in the backyard is a large shed with two pony stalls and another claw-foot tub for watering the steeds.

Surprises in a house so old are higher-than-you'd-expect ceilings (with fans in most rooms), closets in the bedrooms, a useful pantry off the dining room, and pretty red tile around the hearth. The aluminum windows are double-hung, and the septic tank, lines, oil tank, and furnace were all replaced within the last two years.

The recently reduced price is another incentive, perhaps offsetting the close-to-a-busy road location and the unfortunate potential for the views to be interrupted by development of surrounding lots.

Buying an older property is always a bit of a gamble, since one never knows what might be lurking beneath carpeting or within walls or planned for next door. Having a place in a reasonably close-in location at a manageable price (by Albemarle standards), makes the risk here a little more palatable.

And then– if money's no object– there's always the possibility of buying up the surrounding tracts for protection, enlarging the current modest house to today's palatial standards, or even knocking down the old school and starting from scratch.

It's not exactly "unlimited potential," but it's something pretty nice to work with.