Boy do we have a major open housing home for you this week! The home we're going to talk about is one of those homes in Old Town where you don't know what to expect from the exterior, but are wowed by from the interior.
Located right in the heart of Old Town just a block off of King on Prince Street, this large brick home (pictured in the center above) was built around 1860. From the street it's obviously a large home with three floors and a basement.
Wendy and I have been through this house on one occasion in the past when it was on the Christmas tour of homes, but this Open House would be the first time I had the opportunity to see the upper floors and the basement. Wendy was out of town for work, so she missed out, but our friends Sarah Kate and Mike dropped by to tour with me. It made me feel a bit less like a loser walking alone into an open house that was completely outside of my price range.
When you enter this five bedroom, four and one half bath house you are immediately stuck by the sheer width and size of the large wood and glass entry door. It had to be at least four and a half feet across.
Once you get over the size of the door, you notice the 12 foot ceilings and rather grand entryway. Given our 15 foot wide house, it's a little difficult to get over just how massive the front of this house is.
To the left of the entry hall sits a large formal living area with fireplace and huge south facing front windows. This room is impressive and would be plenty big to satisfy most parties. Conveniently enough, original pocket doors sit at each rooms' division, so it's easy to make closing off the house a reality.
Beyond the living room is the home's foyer and beautiful staircase. Again, the size of this area is overwhelming. The current owners have a table in the center of this area that would work well as a dining table in our home.
The main staircase is one of the most impressive features of the home and was stripped of its paint and restored back to a more natural wood finish to allow the intricate details and carved items to shine. Trust me, I know, this was no small task.
This home was completely renovated back in early 2000 after sitting vacant for many years. In prior lives it played the part of a doctor's office and schoolhouse. The project of renovating this house was massive and took nearly two years. The full renovation attempted to keep the majority of the architectural and character building elements intact, restoring where appropriate, but also updating for modern convenience and necessity. This is the kind of project I can get behind.
The first floor has a formal dining area just beyond the foyer, again with a large pocket door between each room. The dining room has a functional fireplace with a very impressive mantle and two large built-ins on either side for china storage.
One thing that is apparent about this house is the efficient use of all possible storage areas. There seem to be built-ins or nooks all over the house to stash the items you need to store.
A large kitchen with very high ceilings is just beyond the dining room. This kitchen is pretty much what you would expect in this home. High end appliances and cabinets, a large island with granite counter tops, and a large eat in area just beside it.
But my favorite part of the kitchen is the back staircase to the rear of the second floor.
It's my dream to have a back staircase, and I don't even know why. I guess if you have a back staircase it means you have enough space that you don't even care that it is wasting potentially usable room space.
The second floor of the home was more of the same. Very large rooms, very high ceilings, nicely renovated, and well appointed.
The architectural hardware touches really stood out to me. The renovation went to great lengths to preserve existing details on everything from window sash to fireplace surrounds.
This tells me that the renovation was by no means inexpensive or quick.
The center staircase is a winding and stunning both from below and from above.
One of the coolest details of the home are the several original skylights whose interiors are lined with beadboard and lower portion is finished with leaded and panes glass. This is something I could see doing in our home on our skylight above the stairs.
The third floor offers a few bedrooms and a large full bath. The front bedroom has a door that steps out onto a small balcony with some rather spectacular views of the Masonic temple and surrounding area.
The back bedroom has a feature that you don't often see in homes in this area...an elevator. Yes, an elevator, that you can take to the other floors of the house. If you jump on the elevator you can ride it down to the basement level.
I know, I couldn't believe it either.
The basement is a nice sized area that has a few built ins and several rooms. It was dug out a few feet during the renovation to give an adequate amount of headroom for a semi finished space.
I say semi finished because it seems like it's an unfinished basement that's been decorated and adjusted to look finished. Stick with me on this.
The basement boasts a wine/lounge area, full bathroom, and theater room, but the walls are pretty much just the exposed brick, floors are poured cement, and ceiling is just the floor joists from above. Lights have been hung in these joist cavities to give the ambiance of a cozy theater space to the basement, but it still remains a semi unfinished basement.
This isn't in any way a negative in my book, it's just an observation, and it shows me that an unfinished basement space can be pretty great if done the right way.
Oh, wait, I glossed over one fact a bit. Yes, I said it has a theater room, complete with theater chairs and giant screen. Not too shabby of a place to watch a weekend movie or have friends over to watch the Super Bowl. Oh how I dream of a space like this.
On the way out of the basement I noticed a small detail embedded in the brick wall. A small gas line with key still exists, evidence of the gas lighting that surely existed in the home when it was first built.
This sort of detail is so incredibly cool to me because it almost speaks to you from another era.
Back to the first floor and beyond the kitchen you'll find a modest yard space and a single car parking area. The yard is actually quite small because the home takes up nearly the entire available area of land. This is one of the few disappointing things about this house. It's a shame that there is no side yard, extended back yard area, or roof deck type space, otherwise it would be one of the most amazing entertaining houses we've seen in Old Town.
In all, this home is quite impressive. The top to bottom renovation is very nicely done, though the bathrooms could use a bit of updating with new vanities and bath tubs. The decor is not our particular taste, but that can all easily be changed. The overall structure is stunning, sound, and in wonderful shape. It's getting more and more difficult to find homes so largely intact after such a major renovation, for that the current owners should be very proud of themselves. Kudos to them.
And now for our game...
Would You Trade?
Alex: Um...yeah I'd trade! It's got a flippin' movie theater in the basement. Honestly, how would we not trade for this house? It's ginormous and historically amazing. It looks like something that belongs more on the streets of New York than in quaint Old Town. So sure, I'd trade. But that being said, I'd be annoyed at the lack of back yard, but I'd find some way to deal with it. Heck, I'd even trade for the un-renovated multi-unit rental next door. Sure, I might be working on fixing it up for 25 years, but it'd be a fun 25 years.
Wendy: Even though I didn't see it in person, I'd take a leap of faith and trade our home for this one! I love the curb appeal of the home, and the sheer volume of space would be heavenly. Heck, we might even have room for another rescue pup. :-) It looks like it would be a challenging and exciting decorating project as well, and I can only imagine how gorgeous it could be at Christmastime...not to mention how spooky at Halloween.
For those of you who are newer readers, our game of "Would You Trade?" is based on the ridiculous notion that we would have the opportunity to trade our house for the Open Housing house straight up, where price is not an issue. Sometimes the result is obvious, sometimes not so obvious, but usually it is based almost entirely in the ridiculous. I hope you enjoy.
If you'd like to see additional details, they are available on the home's official listing page.
Interested in reading about other interesting homes for sale? Want to offer your take on "would you trade"? Check out the Open Housing section of Old Town Home.
Photo Credits: Southeby's International Realty and listing agent, Robin Waugh.