High marks: Nelson house has Addy-ed appeal

ADDRESS: Mark Addy Inn

ASKING: $1,600,000

SIZE: 5,888 fin. sq. ft.; 2,716 unfin.


NEIGHBORHOOD: Nellysford in Nelson County

CURB APPEAL: 9 of 10

LISTED BY: Charlie Wineberg Mountain Area Realty 361-2440

Two sorts of people will be interested in this large appealing property: nascent Conrad Hiltons, and families for whom RU-486 arrived a couple of decades too late.

If your Walter Mitty fantasy is to lodge and breakfast strangers, the Mark Addy Inn is your dream come true. If you're a modern-day VonTrapp, this 10-bedroom, 10.5-bath farmhouse has your name all over it.

The Inn– named not, as is commonly supposed, for some actual intrepid Mr. Addy, but for the current owner's grandparents, Mark and Adelaide– has been a Nelson County fixture for at least 100 years. Built in 1844 as a two-room cabin, the place was enlarged in the late 1800s to today's grand proportions by Dr. John Everett, whose daguerreotype graces the front hall.

Now the 700 acres of "Upland Farm," as Dr. Everett called his spread, have been reduced to 12.5, but in compensation for losing the back 688, the house has been updated to modern standards including a sunroom, a full commercial kitchen, ceiling fans, a zesty mirrored Jacuzzi, and a big Lois Kannensohn mural on the dining room wall.

The grounds are manicured and wedding-ready, with a series of little individual gardens, including a large vegetable plot, and a "lavender walk" (not really lavender, but some equally fragrant herb) leading to a "peristyle" composed of the original porch columns, and far-ranging views of the Blue Ridge. Outbuildings include a rustic shed now being used as a gift shop; Dr. Everett's original office (now a cozy private efficiency for the owner); and a new laundry shed complete with a "mangle," a machine to press the pillowslips.

What's here for folks moving to the country for the privacy and tranquility instead of the headaches of running a business? Well, obviously, lots of rooms. In addition to all those bedrooms and baths, there's a graceful entrance hall (under an unusual little balcony), a large living/sitting room/library with heart pine bookshelves, and what's now the Inn dining room, but which could be converted to a family room or grand salon.

Always smitten by beautiful old wood, we were amazed to find the glowing heart pine of the floors, trim, and bookshelves also used in an enormous pair of pocket doors nine feet wide and 2-3 inches thick between the sitting and dining rooms. Hiding them away in their "pockets" is a waste. Even though they might compromise the space a little, a new owner would surely want to leave them partly open just to flaunt their beauty.

The layout contributes to the house's potential as a private residence. One of the three first-floor bedrooms, with a graceful arch (and that mirrored shower!) rivals any "master suite" in swanky new subdivisions. A small first-floor sitting room could be converted to an office, and a few alterations could open the commercial kitchen (now safely tucked behind a firewall) to the rest of the house.

Obviously, the prudent decision would be to keep the Mark Addy as an Inn– the business and much of the furniture conveys, making it virtually a turn-key operation. But a family shopping for a house in this price range would do well to consider the unique elements the place has to offer as a residence.

Yes, it's a bit far from town. But it's only minutes from Wintergreen. Yes, it's old. But so is Monticello. Yes, it has 10 bathrooms that will require gallons of scrubbing bubbles. Surely you can pay the char a little extra for the joy of bathing in a different tub every night.

But if you're still undecided about the wisdom of buying an 18-room house in Nellysford, consider this: What McMansion in Glenmore or Walnut Hills or even The Rocks comes with a mangle?