Real Estate


Aspen Hill in Martinsburg, West Virginia. (Click photo for the listing.)

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin' like a breeze.

You'll be interested to know that today's real estate round-up of West Virginia homes was inspired by the above classic John Denver song. That I was listening to on repeat. On the ultra-patriotic "Sing America!" CD from 1999 that was produced to benefit the Save Americas Treasures endowment here at the National Trust. Hey, it's 4th of July weekend - allow me some proud red, white, and blue Americana.

First in line is a house with - as is common with historic properties - an amazing name: Olive Boy Farm. Located on 16 rolling hilltop acres outside of Charles Town, this brick Italianate home pretty much has it all: stream and mountain views, tree-lined drive, gardens, pool, pool house, tennis courts, three-stall barn, 11 fireplaces, high ceilings, original wood floors, two kitchens, finished lower level, and amazing double porches.

Just around the corner in Martinsburg is a house that has been called one of the finest period Georgian homes in the United States. Built around 1750, Aspen Hill is a grand limestone home - currently being used as a bed and breakfast - that sits on 5 acres and is only four short blocks to the closest Marc commuter train.

Last is the Halfway House in Ansted, West Virginia.

The "Halfway House," also widely known as the Tyree Tavern, is an early 19th-century timber vernacular residence-the original portion of which is a circa-1764 pioneer blockhouse-standing on the path of an early travel route to the West. It became a stage coach stop when in 1827 a toll road, the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, offered its first weekly stage line service between Lewisburg and Charleston. As a tavern and hostelry the Halfway House witnessed the comings and goings of many of the West's greatest politicians, travelers, and adventurers who sought the shortest East-West route across the great barrier formed by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John Breckenridge were known to have registered at the Halfway House.

Kinda makes me want to just hop in an old red Chevy and drive out there now...

Country roads, take me Home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He'd jump in that chevy now if it weren't for the fact that he (proudly) only has a bike. Looks like he'll just be West Virginia dreamin' for now...

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Historic Properties for Sale: Shameless Plugging Edition

Posted on: June 24th, 2011 by Sarah Heffern


The Historic Properties for Sale website.

The Historic Properties for Sale website.

I've noticed recently that my colleague who has been writing the weekly real estate post has mentioned a few times that he wants to do a post all about listings on the West Coast. I thought this seemed like a splendid idea, so when it fell to me to pull together today's post, I immediately picked up on that topic. And then I began perusing the Historic Properties for Sale site and discovered why he'd been avoiding the left coast...  he had already covered nearly all the listings we had.

Thinking there simply had to be more options, I expanded my search beyond the lower 48, since Alaska and Hawaii have coastline too, and as such could be stretched to fit the theme, but there were no listings for our non-contiguous friends, either. Feeling increasingly desperate, I looked at the other three states served by our Western Office (Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona) and again found nothing. I'm not gonna lie: This left me staring at my computer in confusion.

Now, I have as much East Coast bias as any person raised in the great state of New York and currently living in Washington, DC can have (which is, um, a lot) but you can't tell me there are no fabulous historic properties out West.  I know there are!

And then I remembered the site is still fairly new and we're in growth mode, so I thought I'd switch things up and aim today's post not at buyers, but at sellers - and their realtors. We truly want the Historic Properties for Sale website to be a great resource for people who love living and working in historic buildings, but we can't do it without having listings that span the entire country. If you're selling your house, please encourage your realtor to list it on the site, and if you're in the business of selling property yourself, well, please consider including all the historic properties you're representing. Oh, and if you've been putting it off because George Washington didn't sleep there or because the listing is not on the National Register, there's no need to worry - those are not our criteria. The building just needs to be 50 years or older.

I'm told by those who know such things that our online advertising rates (starting at $60 for two months) are really quite reasonable. Also, unlike other property listing sites, this one benefits preservation. That's right - revenue from the site helps support our work here at the National Trust. You can sell houses and help save places at the same time - not a bad deal at all!

If you've read this far, thank you for putting up with a pitch for more listings in the spot where your weekly dose of lovely houses usually lives. I'm doing this for you, I swear. More listings = more pretty places for us all to drool over.

Sarah Heffern is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. If she had a house to sell you can bet that a) it would be historic and b) she'd list it on the Historic Properties for Sale site. For reals.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the National Trust's social media strategist. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

Historic Properties for Sale: Southwest-ish Edition

Posted on: June 17th, 2011 by David Garber


The General Jerome B. Robertson House in Brenham, Texas. (Click photo for the listing)

After writing about East Coast Federals a few weeks ago, I asked our Facebook fans where we should head next. And what did we hear? People want to read more about the West Coast. So off I went a'searching through our Historic Properties for Sale listings, only to find that either a) our Western listings are flying off the shelves, or b) we need all you West Coast real estate agents to hop on the PreservationNation train and submit listings for those classic Craftsmans, Mods, Decos we all know and love.

So for now, enjoy these West... of the Mississippi property listings. Is there any one true geographical region that includes Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico?

First up is the quite sturdy-looking Oklahoma beaut at 421 S. 2nd Street in Blackwell, just south of the Kansas line. This orange brick home boasts over 3,800 square feet, lots of dark wood, and even a few adjacent "small houses."

Next up is the General Jerome B. Robertson House in Brenham, Texas. This meticulously restored home was built in 1846 by, you guessed it, General Robertson, who came to Texas in 1836 to join the fight for Texas' independence. The 1,860 square foot house is classic old Texas, and features a stable. Giddy-up.

Moving further west, the last listing is for 305 Chipmonk in the historic railroad town of Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Orginally built as a summer home, this house has three fireplaces, hand-stenciled wood floors, and a lot of beautiful original-glass windows. The home sits on two and a half lots filled with 500-year old evergreens.

Friends, we are trying to move west. Hold on, I've got West Coast on the mind and I ain't quittin' till I get there.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A Native Coloradan himself, he pines for big skies and dry air of the West, but for now has settled for the ultra-steamy humidity of the Mid-Atlantic. Sigh.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.


The Stanfield Villa in central New York. (Click photo for the listing)

At some point, probably in the next few months, we will completely run out of obvious categories for these Historic Properties for Sale posts. We’ve done houses with pools. Houses in this style or that style. Houses with views. Hotels. Farms. Schools. You name it, we are teetering on the edge of almost definitely having it. I knew we were getting close when, just a couple weeks ago, I wrote about houses with tenuous connections to 80s movies. But all exaggerations aside, we really do still have countless architectural features to emphasize, styles to drool over, and geographies highlight (I’m not forgetting about you west coasties!)

The James Lee house in Memphis. (Click photo for the listing)

And so, without further ado, I present this week’s column, the Second Empire’s New Groove Edition. (Probably my least favorite Disney movie, but if I had gone with the Second Empire Strikes Back I would have been backsliding into my 80s post. Journalistic integrity is intact. Phew.)

So what is Second Empire anyway? Mix Pollyana’s house and the one from Lady and the Tramp and you’ve got Second Empire (and also a couple convenient Disney references). Mansard roofs, curlicue detailing, and Italianate flair.

First up is the James Lee House on Memphis’ historic Millionaires Row. The grande manse, once home to Memphis’ College of Art, is currently owned by the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities and is in need of a complete rehab. The institutional seller is looking for a buyer willing to return it to its residential roots or adapt it for cultural, business, or academic use. You know, give it its groove back. (Ba dum ching!)

The second one is the Stansfield Villa in central New York’s Otsego County. Another classic Second Empire home, the Villa was built in 1883 and boasts 11’ ceilings, bay windows, and even a first floor ballroom. If you’re into wallpaper, this house is the one for you. Plaids, florals, toiles, and jacquards line the walls of most of the home’s 16 rooms.

Lastly, the Jacob C. Allen House (we officially need more homes named after the women of the house) is located on a one-acre corner lot in historic Hackettstown, New Jersey. The house is classic classic Second Empire (two classics for emphasis), with its multi-colored exterior scheme and wrought iron cresting along the entire roof. At just an hour away from New York, it’s actually quite the steal at $615,000.

If you're on the lookout for a new house but these aren't doing it for you, check out the full selection at our Historic Properties for Sale website.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This post may or may not have just inspired a weekend Disney movie marathon.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Historic Properties for Sale: The Feds Are Alright Edition

Posted on: June 3rd, 2011 by David Garber


The East Coast doesn’t have the same glowing neon romance of the West Coast - those quivering sunsets through L.A. palms and streets dripping with celebrity, mid-century nostalgia, and the overspray of a hundred automatic lawn sprinklers shaking booty to the rythm of the volume-up convertables driving by.

Instead, the East Coast prides itself on it's more muted sensibilities. More about deep roots and an idealized Martha Stewart Living appeal. Gingham and boxwoods. Colonial Williamsburg. Summers on the Chesapeake Bay and Martha’s Vineyard. Central Park. Subways, soft shell crabs, and Arnold Palmers. Oh, and history. Lots of history.

134 Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia. Click photo for the listing.

Federal Style architecture is historic East Coast. That might be a little unfair to the slew of other styles and architectural periods, but if you're thinking stately and symmetrical, iron and brick (or wood, stone, or stucco), and fanlight windows over front doors, it's likely you're thinking Federal. And you guessed it, all of today's Historic Properties for Sale are in the Federal Style. So grab a lobster roll, sit back, and get buyin'!

First up is a wonderful end-unit rowhouse on Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley, "the nation's oldest residential street." The house is actually completely asymmetrical from the front, which lends it a whimsical Fairy-tale Federal (just made that up but hoping it catches on) feel. The 1800 home features 3 bedrooms, two full baths, and a still-works-today period color scheme.

Next is the Peter Barnart House in Salem, New Jersey (just outside Wilmington, Delaware). This completely charming house is listed for only - wait for it - $149,000. Situated on the historic Market Street, this 1800 clapboard Federal has four bedrooms, one and a half baths, and a farmhouse kitchen.

A bedroom in the Oyer House in Huntingdon, PA. Click photo for the listing.

The Oyer House in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania is only a 20-minute drive to State College. So for you Nittany Lions fans out there, this might just be the place for you. Immaculately restored, yet fitted out with modern appliances and amenities, this house exudes Federal Style and East Coast class.

Last up is the Coon Tavern in Haverhill Corner, New Hampshire. The name doesn't exactly scream "Federal" (if I had to guess I'd probably go with some sort of ramshackle log cabin), but this 1800 (okay I'm starting to see a theme here...) tavern-turned home is one of the more put-together, symmetry-or-die homes I've seen listed. But with its perfectly American backyard barn and effortless-looking landscaping, this home just about perfect.

Still on the lookout? Check out the many, many other listings at our Historic Properties for Sale page.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. After writing the intro, he wants to be within sight of a palm tree *immediately*, and wonders if he just might try to scrounge together a West Coast (insert hand symbol) only blog post one of these days.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.


The spectacular view from "The Crown Jewel of South Hill" in Bellingham, WA. Click photo for listing.

A room with a view. No, not the 1986 classic starring Helena Bonham Carter. I’m talking quite literally about houses with spectacular vistas. Whether you’re a city person, a country person, or a little bit of both, that’s typically the goal, right? Views of Central Park. Views of the valley. Mountain views. Ocean views. Skyline views. Views are as much a selling point as granite countertops and walk-in closets dedicated entirely to shoes. As has already made completely obvious in this introduction, today’s Historic Properties for Sale post is about the views. From Bellingham, Washington, to Boyds, Maryland – these houses can wow and inspire “Honey, look!” conversations in even the most stone-hearted of basement-dwellers.

First up is “The Crown Jewel of South Hill” in Bellingham, Washington. While looking through the pictures, I had to google “Goonies film location” because this house overlooks a very similar perfectly-Northwest landscape of faded pastel and rusty-rooftop homes, evergreens, and the Americana grit of small town industrial waterfront as in the pre-teen 80s adventure. But it turns out “The Goonies” was filmed in Astoria, Oregon. Anyway. Built in 1906 by the wealthy owner of a local shingle mill, this neoclassical home is outfitted with modern kitchen and baths, awesome porches and decks (see above), and even a wood-paneled attic ping-pong room. Truffle Shuffle worthy if you ask me.

The view from "The Jewel of Cataline Island." (Click photo for listing.)

Moving on down the coast to, well, just off the coast, this next house is listed as “The Jewel of Catalina Island.” Hold the phone – another “jewel of” listing? Yes, and with these views it’s hard to argue with that name. Once the home of American author Zane Grey, this pueblo-style home is just 15 minutes by helicopter and an hour away by boat to Los Angeles.

This next house does not *collective sigh of relief* have the word “jewel” in its name, but boy does it have views. Built in 1878 by the niece and nephew-in-law of Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, the home – named Winderborne - is surrounded by the 500-acre Seneca Lake in Boyds, Maryland, just 30 miles northwest of Washington, DC. Unlike the first two properties, this house is in need of substantial interior and exterior work. Try to think of it more as an investment in “making it your own” rather than any sort of Tom Hanks in “The Money Pit”-style venture. Yes, there really is an 80s movie reference for everything.

David Garber is a member of the Ditigal and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The first house he bought had an amazing view of the National Cathedral. One only had to squeeze through a hatch in the attic, climb up to the roof, and wait for all the neighborhood leaves to fall to really see it.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.