Squirrel house

Asking: $269,000

Square Footage: Fin: 1416; Unfin: 168

Year built: 1935

Address: 761 Lexington Avenue

Neighborhood: North Downtown

Curb Appeal: 8 on a scale of 10

Listed by: Pat Boyle of Roy Wheeler Realty Co. 296-4170


Charlottesville beckons legions of homebuyers from near and far. The wide range of housing choices appeals even to those who are only mildly interested in changing residences. There are the swanky, old character-filled homes in the mold of Monticello, the modern angles of the avant-garde, hippie shacks, brick bungalows, and many, many more. Even so, many potential homeowners scratch their heads and wonder why they can’t find the perfect home. Their search gets complicated when they factor in the demands of kids, pets, parking, or privacy.

Perhaps these picky types should be browsing the eye candy offered by neighborhoods adjacent to the Downtown Mall. Each house has a unique stamp. Trees are well established and prospering without poured pavement covering their roots. Warmth emanates from inside. The houses don’t stretch into the stratosphere, which happens when there’s a premium on building space.

Tucked away between Park Street and Locust Avenue sits a dreamy little gem. Rising above its all-brick comrades with egg-yolk-yellow stucco second and third floors, this one stands apart.

Owner Mike Baird has spent the last two and a half years renovating and restoring the Depression-area house to its original splendor. The front door (which is actually located on the side) is reached by crossing an ample porch. The interior gently flows from one reasonably sized room to the next.

Thanks to the entry door’s location, the front of the house is lined with windows, which Baird has returned to original specifications, including hiding sash weights in the side jambs. (Jared Hood of Sugar Hollow Builders says it is the same counter-weight principle that Jefferson employed in Monticello’s seven-day cannonball clock.)

Baird has also installed crown molding and a chair railing to enhance the illusion of height in the 8’ ceilings. Although the living room and dining room glory in historic authenticity, the kitchen sparkles with modernity. Baird has updated everything, including a half bath. The view from the kitchen sink is one of urban peace. The zoysia grass which turns a sickly beige in mid-winter will create a green, weed-free landscape in the coming months. Off the kitchen, behind a door, a small winding staircase leads to a small basement.

Narrow oak hardwood floors cover the house. Upstairs, the expansive closets in all three bedrooms had us gushing. Not exactly walk-in, but you could definitely walk in, spread your arms, jump up and turn around without knocking over any of the inhabitants’ possessions. An unusual attribute for a house this old.

As we continued up into the spacious attic, fantasies arose of a master bedroom, or a playroom, or haunted house, or maybe even a studio. Baird anticipated this, for although it is unfinished, he has put in all electrical and plumbing systems as well as a continuation of the heating and cooling system so that the room can become whatever its new owners want it to be.

The most distinguishing characteristic of this home, however, can be seen while driving by: a giant squirrel standing sentry in the front yard. Not a live one, mind you, but a six-foot chainsaw-carved stump. BoBo, named by Baird’s stepdaughter, is the first squirrel by creator Jerry Brown, who has specialized thus far in eagles and bears. It makes people point and smile, not a bad thing for a newly listed property.