Hunt country: Old cabin lurking under roof

ADDRESS: 2400 Pine Garth Run


ASKING: $799,000

YEAR BUILT: 1965, 1990

SIZE: 4,486 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 2.03 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 of 10

LISTED BY: Betty Duncan of Century 21 Manley Associates, 242-4753

When western Albemarle County still had wide open spaces, a hunting cabin was built in this spot on Garth Road. In the mid-'90s, it was renovated and expanded by local builder Jeff Easter, who– apparently reluctant to destroy the old place in the process of bringing it up to date– decided just to build his modern house over it.

That's right. Go up to the second-floor bedroom, open the little door to the under-eaves storage, and take a gander at... the entire roof of the old hunting cabin preserved beneath the roof of this house!

On your way there, you'll pass another remnant of the old days– a huge native stone chimney in the living room, which was the original room of the cabin. In these days of wanton demolition in every direction– not only of farmland and other green space, but of any structure in the way of "progress"– it's amazing to see so radical a renovation that also attempted to preserve elements of an original structure.

The new house built around the old one is modern in every respect: heated tile floors, built-in cabinets and bookshelves, and lots of light and air (one imagines the hunting cabin was probably dark and smoky).

The entry is from a side porch rather than the narrow "front" porch on the side of the house facing Garth Road. It opens to an L-shaped tomato-red hall leading on the right to a large dining room at the back of the house and on the left across the front to the master suite. The halls frame the living room, which has been opened up with huge glass windows on both sides, providing views to the landscaped front and back yards. It's a good way to balance the weight of the huge stone fireplace.

The dining room and kitchen are beautiful, if unexceptional. A small breakfast area next to the kitchen leads to the deck overlooking the small fenced backyard under seven enormous oak trees. (In fact, 20 glorious old oaks tower over the two-acre lot, more alluring than the formal landscaping around the house, in our opinion.)

Back inside, the master suite, beyond a short hall which doubles as a dressing area beneath skylights, is the high point of the house, with another unusual design– open beams framing the bed positioned between two cathedral windows. They're big enough to help illuminate the bathroom (with the heated tile floor) along with more skylights– one directly over the shower. It's a unique design creating an almost plein air effect that we haven't seen anywhere else in our rambles.

The master suite's distance from the rest of the house is great for people who want privacy and quiet, but it presents a problem for the current owners, who have young children. The other five bedrooms are at some remove (one upstairs and four on the lower level)– too far away to hear infant cries at 2am or to monitor comings and goings of naughty teens escaping under cover of darkness.

The upstairs bedroom has an adjacent dressing room which could be a playroom for a between-age child who can sleep through the night but won't sneak out once mom and dad are snoring. Down on the terrace level, two suites, each comprising two large bedrooms and a full bath, create a perfect set-up for party weekends with friends in town for the Foxfield races (just across the road) or any other revelry.

There's also a large paneled family room here as well as a laundry room and many built-in cabinets, bookshelves, and closets, with a direct exit to a shady backyard terrace that beckons for a summer dinner party.

In fact, everything about the house suggests leisure, entertaining, relaxation, the "good life." Maybe it's all that light, maybe it's the easy-flow arrangement of rooms, maybe it's the neighborhood.

Or maybe it's the ghosts of hunters past (rumored even to have included William Faulkner) hanging around under the roof of their old haunt, vicariously enjoying themselves amid the changes.