The May/June issue of Preservation magazine features a primer on the National Register of Historic Places aptly titled “What is the National Register?” The National Register (you can even call it the Register if you’re hip and/or “with it,” just don’t call it the Registry … they really hate that) is a listing by the US Department of the Interior of the Nation's historic and archeological “places worthy of preservation.” In short, to get a home/lighthouse/sunken ship (yes, you read that right) on the National Register, the property owner must want the designation, and a formal application must be submitted to the Department of the Interior. If you’re interested in submitting a property for listing on the Register, their website is a great guide.
This week’s highlighted historic properties for sale are all on the National Register and span three states and three housing styles. Moving from South to North (seriously, I had to pick a direction, and as a DC resident I can claim both northern and southern heritage: case in point, my affinity for both sweetened and unsweetened iced tea), the first house on the list is the Bobbitt-Pendleton-Arrington House in Warrenton, North Carolina. Think “Gone with the Wind” antebellum goodness, minus the drama, plus central AC. And speaking of sweet tea (or mojitos?), this home has a sweeping front porch on which to enjoy them. Originally built in 1793 in the Federal style, the home was significantly modified twice between 1840 and 1868, both doubling its size and transforming it to the Greek Revival style.
Next up is Bowling Green Farm, the plantation that named the town of Bowling Green, Virginia. Built in 1741 by Revolutionary War Major John Thomas Hoomes, it is a quintessential Virginia estate home, replete with mature boxwoods, cedar lined drives, a gently whitewashed pre-Georgian brick exterior, and - you guessed it - a manicured front lawn ready and waiting for a game of bowls. And while the nearest water-cooler conversation might be in nearby Fredericksburg or one-hour-drive Washington, DC, there’s some great small talk to be made about some of the farm’s early visitors: George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette. Need another hook? Bowling Green Farm now has a one-acre vineyard planted with Cabernet Franc varietals (disclosure: I barely even know what varietals means, but it definitely fits the boxwood/brick/manicured lawn mold). Better act quickly, though, because this property goes to auction on May 3!
Last is Hathaway, a grand Arts and Crafts style estate home in the Catskills region of New York, a mere two hours north of the big city. The name alone could almost sell the property (though you'll be better off not thinking of Anne Hathaway at the Oscars), but the story behind its creation seals the deal. Completed in 1907, Hathaway’s low-slung, 35-room expanse gracefully cascades down a slightly overgrown landscape with views of the Hudson Valley. The original owners, philanthropist couple Everit and Edith Macy, knew they wanted a house to escape Manhattan’s upper west side, but were divided on whether they should spend the money on a trip to Europe instead. Edith wanted a house, Everit wanted Europe, and Everit won. What Everit didn’t realize was that during their stay overseas, Edith had orchestrated Hathaway’s construction.
Think you have the historic real estate bug but need more options (What, three houses of completely differing styles spread across the American East aren't enough?)? Head over to the Historic Real Estate site to browse the other listings.
David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Not only does he enjoy writing about historic real estate around the country, he has actually bought and rehabbed a handful of historic homes in Washington, DC over the past few years, and, well, likes writing about those, too.