REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Splashy: Drown worries in pool, fountain, bath


ADDRESS: 1930 White Hall Road

NEIGHBORHOOD: Crozet/White Hall

ASKING: $899,500

ASSESSMENT: $653,800

YEAR BUILT: 1855, renovated 2004

SIZE: 3,486 fin. sq. ft. house/another 600 over garage

LAND: 2.46 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

LISTED BY: Janet Bradley of Home Sell Realty  977-5530

If location is everything in real estate, the situation of this unusual spread about half way between Crozet Pizza and Wyant's Store is a winner. And another good location fact: it's far enough back from Rt. 810 that highway noise isn't a bother but close enough that getting out in the winter won't be a chafe.

Being well-positioned is half the battle, but to fetch more than three-quarters of a million dollars, a property itself has to have something going for it. 

And here, as far as the surroundings go, that's an understatement. A beautifully situated elevated pool added in 1980, a very livable apartment over a separate two-car garage, a quaint red garden outbuilding, and a hot tub under a pergola– all surrounded by stunning landscaping– are bonuses added by the hand of man. But perhaps the most alluring aspect of the grounds is a gift of nature: a tiny rivulet running beside the house with a huge outcropping of moss- and ivy-covered rocks for drama.

Across a rustic bridge, a flat kiddy playground, replete with swings and slides, looks in its little woodland dell like something out of a fairy tale (not Hansel and Gretel). Unfortunately, this lovely self-contained park is probably a mixed blessing today. While moms back in the day would no doubt have jumped at the chance to park the tots over there and head off to weed the liriope or throw back a gin and tonic without interruption, it's not hard to imagine today's angst-saturated parents fretting about all sorts of dangers, from drowning to snakes to boogeymen lurking in the woods.

But the recreational amenities, the landscaping, and the location are only part of the story of any property. The focus of a real estate transaction is the house itself. And here we find a house similar to a few others we've seen over the years: rambling, unplanned houses that seem, like Topsy, to have "just growed."

What is now a very sleek and modern country estate began life as a fruit storage warehouse for a surrounding orchard. (Henley's is still just a stone's throw up the road.) According to a history compiled by previous owners, the warehouse was replaced in the late 1800s by a three-bedroom cottage known as "Pink Hill." (The old kitchen still exists, doing double-duty as the laundry room beside a new family room/den.)

Over time, other owners enlarged and "improved" the place, adding things like a "gallery" (a long bright room of no discernible use), changing the original back porch to a dining room with the addition of a mahogany floor, converting the original dining room into an entrance foyer, and bricking over a courtyard between the two wings of the house. 

The layout may seem hard to imagine from this description, and there's a reason. The layout is hard to grasp even when you're standing there. But here's a rough approximation of the place. Of the two entrance options, one– in the actual "front" of the house near the streamlet– opens directly to stairs to the second level and to the formal living room with a wood-burning fireplace (one of three in the house) surrounded by lots of bookshelves and cabinets. The second door– and the one more likely to be used since it opens to the asphalt driveway/parking lot– leads to a "foyer," which used to be the dining room and which leads to a huge "family room" harboring a galley kitchen at one end. It seems a bit brooding with dark paneling, gray heated tile floor, another fireplace, and exposed ceiling trusses, but it leads to a new screened porch and the bright dining room with a bay window.

The kitchen is a pleasant surprise. While it has all the requisite upscale do-dads (copper hood over professional gas stove, soapstone counters), it also has a sensible open pantry and pretty exposed brick backsplash instead of today's tiresome tile or granite. 

The south wing of the house on the other side of the big dark family room contains the master suite, up a couple of steps from that mysterious gallery, with an impressive, fully tiled bathroom (big enough that the owners had their exercise equipment in there) and dressing areas. (The TV over the tub conveys.) Another bedroom over here also has its own bathroom.

Upstairs, two bedrooms seem almost like an afterthought compared to the elegance everywhere else although they're in the original part of the house. They're joined in a funny kind of circular floor plan by a full bath with tile and marble.

Puzzlement is the overriding impression, although the unquestioned quality of the renovations (copper roof, three-zone heating, dedicated hot water for the master bath) and the beauty of the surroundings offset to some degree the confusing room arrangements. 

So a potential buyer might be tempted to head down the road for pizza and time to "think it over." But the agent has one more arrow in her quiver, one that might seal the deal for someone tempted but wavering: the owner is willing to finance the whole purchase with a 10 percent down payment (terms to be negotiated).

Worries about Junior falling into the stream, questions about the purpose of that "gallery," and complaints about the brooding family room might suddenly evaporate, and only the fun of frolicking in the pool, entertaining friends beside the splashing patio fountain, and walking up the street for peaches may come to the forefront and carry the day. 



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