Deja-view: Wynnewood seems familiar

ADDRESS: 240 Warren Street


ASKING: $449,000



SIZE: 2930 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 1.757 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

LISTED BY: James Kerlin and Pat Pitts of A. Scott Ward Realty Inc. 286-2022

We here at On the Block have been reviewing a house a week for almost four years, so we hope we can be forgiven for sometimes feeling that we've seen every possible variation of floor plan, bathroom and kitchen design, and garden layout.

When we looked under the eaves of this old house in Scottsville, for instance, we flashed back to a house we visited on Pine Garth Run that had formerly been a hunting lodge. Like the renovators of that place, the owners who added on to the original 1850 portion here just hoisted the new roof up and over an existing back porch. Open a little door in one upstairs bedroom, and there sits the original porch roof, now surrounded by flooring for storage.

Other things about the house are familiar: bookcases covering one wall of the living room are like those in a house on Rugby Avenue; a warm sunroom off the kitchen offering views of an expansive garden and fishpond set us thinking of "New Hadden" on Taylor's Gap Road; steps from the upstairs landing leading to two bedrooms are the same as a set in a First Street house; and a neat little tiled bathroom tucked under the stairs is like those in many old houses where bathroom space has had to be invented (because the originals were outside).

But some things about this history-rich place are unique in our experience. For instance, we've never seen a free-standing claw-foot bathtub practically in the middle of a master bedroom– and off the entrance hall, at that! The owner says she got the idea from a bed and breakfast, and while having a big bedroom right inside the front door may have been a good idea there, it will be a very special buyer who wants to soap up in front of a front-porch window.

But that's the only slightly screwy aspect of this property, which has many other endearing elements: gorgeous wide heart-pine floors, six-over-six windows for maximum light, original mantels (one topped by a mirror) over the two original coal-burning fireplaces on the first floor (neither working, unfortunately), and the wide two-story front porch.

The layout of the house is hard to describe because of the way additions were attached. Today's kitchen is in the same place as the original "summer kitchen" that was connected to the house by an open breezeway. (That space is now a bright family room joining the kitchen to the original house.)

The exterior of the 1850 house is visible in that room and in several other places inside, and an even more unusual feature is a wall between the kitchen and laundry room made from an old barn at the Enniscorthy estate. Painted a dark green, the rough-hewn planks will either thrill or dismay a new owner.

The house next door sheltered the Union General Philip Sheridan during the Civil War, and his troops spread out to camp in the yard of this house. The back yard– maybe where the Yanks bedded down– stretches all the way to Route 20, but the road is invisible and inaudible, separated from the house by a large stand of bamboo. (Lest nervous gardeners fret about this Asian wonder taking over the yard, the owners report no problems since its isolated position makes upstart shoots easy to annihilate.)

Also on the almost-two-acre parcel is a pretty perennial garden near the house, a large asphalt driveway and two-car garage (far enough away to blunt the effect of all that black), several pens for animals (currently goats), and chicken coops. While the house is served by town water, there's also a well and pump for outdoor use. In short, counting the gas-fired stove in the family room, "Wynnewood" offers everything one needs to be self-sustaining, a not inconsiderable benefit in these parlous times.

Quirky free-range bathtub notwithstanding, this cozy old house could be ideal for a family seeking country pleasures in a charming little town only 25 minutes down Route 20– with almost all the important systems (metal roof, AC, furnace) recently upgraded. All the pleasures of the James River– within easy walking distance and visible from an upstairs bedroom– should recommend it to a sporting family, and the history, grand kitchen, and beautiful details will appeal to any sophisticated hostess.

While we've seen many houses over the years, rarely have we seen one that fills so many bills at once.