Deco-rated: Condo sports high-style design


ADDRESS: 408 East Market Street

ASKING: $389,000

BUILDING: 1,652 fin. sq. ft.



NEIGHBORHOOD: Maclin Building Downtown


LISTED BY: Gerri Russell, Roy Wheeler Realty Co. 951-9581

The Arts and Crafts movement (roughly 1870-1900) was popularized by the work of William Morris and Pre-Raphaelite painters Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt. Characterized by flower motifs in items such as stained glass, wallpaper, and fabric (particularly elaborate embroidery), it also found expression in architecture, notably with the Queen Anne Revival, and with elements of the American Colonial period. Gustav Stickley's furniture designs are another manifestation of the movement.

Locally, several examples of Arts and Crafts– or "Craftsman style"– architecture are easy to spot, especially in the few extant "Sears houses" that came ready-to-assemble from the catalogue in the early 20th century. (There's a particularly nice example on Farish Street off Park.) In this Market Street condo, the Arts and Crafts elements are evident in the interior design.

In our review of an office suite in this building in December 2003, we noted then that major renovations were planned for the entrance and lobby. A new awning now makes it easier to identify the place between almost identical buildings on either side, and the common space on the third floor has elegant columns and lots of light from large windows at the front and back.

The two-bedroom, two-bath condo is also characterized by more light than one would expect in an interior unit in a center-of-the-block building. Several large skylights in the two-story-tall living room as well as glass walls in two loft rooms make the place almost as bright as conventional windows would.

Large windows likewise brighten the master bedroom suite in front, on Market Street. The master bath is another artsy confection, with glass bricks around the large shower, a European-style toilet (with the water in a box overhead, released by pull-chain), and tile floor. The current owner's previous life as proprietor of a New England bed and breakfast is evident in wide ceiling frieze as well as "classic Arlington columns."

The galley-style kitchen across the back, off the living room (under the loft), is the only place where claustrophobia might be a worry, but the problem is forestalled by imaginative cabinet lighting designed by Barboursville's Jaeger & Ernst Cabinetmakers. Each painted cabinet is brightened by a lighted stained glass panel (by artist Diane Fairburn). All the kitchen appliances, including a six-burner gas/convection Viking stove (and second oven), convey.

The main living space of the apartment is one big room (separated from the front bedroom suite by a small, curved artsy wall), but the small dining area is located just off the kitchen in such a way as to seem to be a separate space even without partitions.

Hand-painted ceramic tiles surround the fireplaces– one, a gas-burner in the living room and one in the master suite that's merely a design element. The banister on the stairway to the loft is composed of flowery verdigris ironwork, another Arts and Crafts fixture, and an elaborate mural provides a backdrop for the stairs themselves.

The loft/balcony is currently being used as a mini-gym, an inspired idea given the extensive mountain views and bright light from the adjoining slate-floored enclosed porch. But the space could just as easily be a second bedroom or study– if one didn't mind the lack of privacy from being directly over the living room– because there's a second, fully tiled bathroom up here.

One strange space at the top of the stairs is not quite big enough to count as a "room," but could perhaps be useful for plants or even a little chair for reading. The views there are also impressive once you look beyond the rooftop mechanical systems.

The $330/month condo fee includes elevator service and security, water, sewer, and trash collection, a storage unit, and– most valuable downtown– a parking space in the city garage across the street.

Currently the unit is rented ($1650/month), so the place might be of interest to crafty investors who don't want to move in themselves but who want to explore the art of the deal.