Ridge Street restoration combines historic detail and quiet comfort

Location:  408 Ridge Street
Year built:
Square footage: 
4,500 finished, 200 unfinished
Asking Price:
Curb Appeal:
 8 out 10
Listing Agent:
 Julie Gee, BHG - Real Estate III, 434-981-1212

Restoring a house can be a challenging proposition (understatement). Restoring one along a street situated within a National Historic District and an Architectural Control District and listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register can be downright difficult (gross understatement). But the restoration done on the home at 408 Ridge Street is a stand-out.

Original details like hardwood floors, leaded glass windows, crown molding, chair rail, and fireplace surrounds and mantels have been carefully preserved while modern amenities like a security system, new appliances and a two-level solid-surface breakfast bar have been added. The porch has recently been repainted, a new standing-seam metal roof has been installed, and the attic space has been finished.

The main level includes a large living room, separated from the adjacent dining room by pocket doors, the modernized kitchen, a half-bath and a sunporch with a ceiling fan and exposed brick walls. There are three spacious bedrooms and two full baths upstairs, along with a second sunporch that runs along the back of the house.

Down a short hallway is a flight of stairs that leads to the large finished attic space that features more exposed brick, a half-bath, a separate heating and cooling zone and glossy hardwoood floors. The roof configuration give the ceiling visual interest, and recessed lights and windows bring plenty of light to the space.

The backyard is deep and can be reached via an alleyway off of Oak Street, and a one-bedroom basement apartment, accessed via an outside entrance that opens onto a bright hallway with yet more exposed brick and built-in bookeshelves, brings in revenue each month. The Downtown Mall and UVA are both within comfortable walking or biking distance, and the house is priced below the assessed value, which does not take into account the newly created apartment.

The major potential downside is also one of the very things that makes this house particularly attractive— the location. 

The Ridge Street neighborhood developed out of a division of the Garrett Estate in 1830. According to the Ridge Street Oral History Project, the first houses in the neighborhood were constructed around 1840 with construction continuing until the time of the first World War. White merchants built their homes along the northern portion of the street while black families lived along the southern part of the street. 

Due in part to the architectural significance of many of the homes located there, Ridge Street was placed on the Virginia Register of Historic Places in 1981. Today, the neighborhood, home to a variety a housing styles ranging from bungalows to apartment buildings to stately brick homes like the one that sits at number 408, is known for its diversity. Although the area is largely residential, there are a number of commercial enterprises situated at the northern end of the street.

As early as the 1930’s, Ridge Street served as one of the major approaches to the downtown area, a situation that continues today with the Charlottesville city website characterizing it as the “key entrance corridor into the city from southern Albemarle County. But key entrance corridors tend to see a heavy flow of traffic, and all those passing cars create a significant amount of road noise, which could make working in the front yard or sitting on the porch a less than peaceful proposition.

Here’s the surprising thing— the noise virtually disappears as soon as the front door closes. The decrease in volume is so significant that it’s easy to forget that the home is located on such a busy thoroughfare. And owning a piece of history typically comes at a price, one that often extends beyond dollars and involves a trade-off of some sort— be it a need for restoration or, in this particular case, a compromise on traffic noise.




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