The circle: Doesn't stay unbroken for long


ADDRESS: 2636 Jefferson Park Circle

ASKING: $389,000

BUILDING: 1846 sq. ft, 1,123 sq. ft. unfinished

LAND: 0.29 acres

YEAR BUILT: circa 1930


CURB APPEAL: 8 of 10

LISTED BY: William French, Bill Porter Realty, LLC 825-5801, 971-1111

A bit of searching is needed to find Jefferson Park Circle the first time you go looking for it, but once discovered, it's easily remembered. Some of the charm of this one-way loop located in the far southwest corner of the Fry's Spring neighborhood is the way it can only be reached via turns onto first Sunset Avenue, then Brunswick Avenue. There's a quiet, tucked-away feeling along most of its tree-covered, near half-mile stretch that is unlike most other city streets.

Indeed, when the property at 2636 Jefferson Park Circle was developed during the late 1920s, this end of the world was still Albemarle County. With no sidewalks and minimal street lighting even today, the Circle still offers a less than urban atmosphere without losing the intimacy of a community of neighbors.

"There's a definite attraction for the Fry's Spring neighborhood," said the agent, adding that even little cottages in the area sell quickly, so long as the pricing is realistic. Nevertheless, he expected a wintertime offering might need a month or more to find a buyer.

The current owner is only the second property holder for 2636. He related how C. M. Wade built a home for himself on the near side of the circle as well as this two-story stone and wood-sided colonial for his brother Neal on the far side. Neal and his wife moved in as newlyweds, and his "bride" remained at the address for more than 50 years. Perhaps because of the few number of hands at work on the structure over the years, its relatively uninterrupted history presents both good news and bad news for the new owners.

The good news comes in the form of things like original narrow oak flooring throughout both floors, matching built-in corner cupboards in the dining room, a working fireplace downstairs in the living area, and a wonderful side porch with stone columns and flagstone floor. Amazingly enough, the doors to all four upstairs bedrooms have remained unpainted through the decades and retain their natural dark wood appearance.

Other positive features are outside where an heirloom hydrangea has become a literal tree and some boxwoods have reached equally towering heights. The owner reports that while the winter landscape turns much of his more recent yard work invisible, there are four apple trees, a long blueberry hedge, plus plenty of crepe myrtle and daylilies.

Recent structural improvements include a covered breezeway from the kitchen to an extended, one-car garage. A separate backyard cabin with pine paneling, electricity and another working fireplace holds out great potential for either a creative work or play space.

As for the less attractive side of this older home, its new owners will have plenty of projects to tackle because the house features an aging heating system of circulating hot water radiators, no central air, and a musty unfinished basement.

Updating is seriously called for in key rooms involving plumbing, too. The one full bathroom upstairs could use a general overhaul; the downstairs half-bath off the kitchen doesn't have a sink, and its apparently hastily installed shower cell is awkwardly positioned, suggesting a total tear-out might be the best solution.

Such a re-do might as well incorporate the kitchen, which feels dark and small, with appliances and wood cabinets that have lost any sense of consistent styling over time. The cracked and worn dark red vinyl flooring there would also probably not be many people's first choice, even in good condition. Outside, the front half of the house has been recently painted, but not the rear or sides.

Clearly, these items weren't serious drawbacks to a sale. Just before Hook press time– a mere four days and half-dozen visits after the December 28 listing, there is a signed contract, reminding all of us that even houses with long "to-do" lists can be attractive if the neighborhood­ and the price is right.