Have a ball: Serenity, location score high

ADDRESS: 1115 Hazel St.


ASKING: $579,500



SIZE: 1,947 fin. sq. ft., 689 unfin.

LAND: .21 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10

LISTED BY: Judy Campbell of McLean Faulconer, Inc., 295-1131

Foursquare anyone? Before you get your kickball out, don your high-tops, and chalk your hands so you can put extra spin on your shifty shots, pull out your architectural style book. This week's house is in perfect foursquare territory– a smaller side street with little traffic in a hundred-year-old neighborhood– but the term refers to the style of the house, not it's laudable pick-up game potential.

The classic American foursquare style was popular between 1895 and the 1930's and features a simple box shape, two-and-a-half stories, a four-room floor plan, a large central dormer in the low-hipped roof, and a full-width front porch with wide entry stairs. The home-run combination of attributes– cheap, easy to build, functional, and attractive– made the foursquare style popular across the country, and Charlottesville was no exception.

Many foursquares were brick, but few have the exceptional brickwork of this house. The decorative exterior woodwork of the wide-overhang soffits is also in excellent condition. The exterior trim around all the windows has been covered with aluminum sheathing to eliminate the need for painting. The work was done skillfully, under the vigilant eye of the current owner, but even the smallest breach in the numerous joints will allow water to attack the wood underneath. There are no signs of any such problem, but a buyer should be aware of the risk.

The current owners have worked on the house extensively over the past 30 years, restoring it to its original floor plan by undoing a previous owner's awkward creation of two apartments (by plunking a bathroom in the living room and converting the upstairs "sleeping porch" into a kitchen). Original details were restored whenever possible, including replacing missing molding with custom-milled replicas and recreating lost stair balusters. The restoration also involved modernizing and upgrading the plumbing and electric throughout the house.

As it stands, the first floor consists of a front living room, dining room, full bath, and kitchen. A Murphy bed disguised as a cabinet in the kitchen (conveyance negotiable) can turn the kitchen/breakfast area into a guest suite with access to the first floor bathroom– if your guests don't mind sleeping in the kitchen.

Upstairs are three modest bedrooms, a full bath, and the enclosed sleeping porch, home of the washer and dryer. The porch also works well as a studio because of wall-to-wall windows on three sides. The largest of the three bedrooms has two modest closets that suffice for its use as the master bedroom. Wormy maple bookshelves, custom built by cabinetmaker David Ramazani, transform one of the two smaller bedrooms into a cozy office, but it could return to service as a bedroom with built-in storage on three walls.

None of the rooms or closets are large, but each has good storage space. And there's more storage in the attic under the hipped roof, in the dry full-height basement, in nifty built-in shelves in the bathroom, and in the separate two-car garage with attic.

Though the house sits on less than one-third of an acre, the back yard is spacious and has been lovingly transforming into a "secret garden" well-hidden from the street by shrubs and vine-covered fences. Flagstone walkways wind between big trees, patches of tall grasses, a few flowers, and grass. A vigorous 50-year-old wisteria has overgrown three freestanding pergolas. The backyard is an inviting bird sanctuary attracting cardinals, wrens, sparrows, and even occasional falcons, according to the owner.

The crowning gem of the backyard is a water garden edged with stones. The main pool is inches deep on one side but over three feet deep at the opposite corner and holds 1600 gallons of recirculating water which flow over an impressively loud foot-high waterfall. A gravity-fed biological filter maintains proper water composition to support goldfish and water plants. The garden is dormant in the winter, but when the fountain is left on in the cold weather, the owner says, it can lead to spectacular ice flows that resemble a stalagmite.

People who need something peppier than the meditative atmosphere created by the water garden (and by working on it), have only a 15-minute walk to downtown. The peaceful sanctuary of the backyard, the lack of traffic in a convenient central location, and the multitude of friendly neighbors in this close-knit neighborhood make this a foursquare where you'll feel like a benevolent king.