Another day, another fixer-upper on our minds — and this one is tugging especially hard on our heartstrings. The 5,200 square foot, Gothic Revival-style home lies just a block away from the historic commercial center of Louisville, GA and is on the market for just $15,000 — a small price to pay for such a hefty dose of old-house nostalgia. With its dramatic, pitched roof and whimsical details including vergeboards resembling decorative lace, it's the kind of place that seems to exist solely to remind us how unimaginative contemporary architecture has become. For passersby, it commands a double-take.
"The house immediately grabs your attention when you drive by," says Ben Sutton with the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the organization in charge of the sale. "It is grand, unique, and it stands out on the corner (even in its current condition). When you walk in, that notion of grandeur continues, with the scale of the entry way and first floor windows to the height of the ceilings."
Those floor-to-ceiling windows open onto a full wrap-around porch. Inside, there are 15-foot ceilings, a dramatic central staircase with an original curved handrail and etched glass transoms over all of the interior doors. Original hardware is everywhere, and a number of original mantels survive.
As for what's hiding above those drop ceilings — well, let's just say our imaginations are running wild.
It's easy to fall in love with a place this beautiful, but buyers beware — the project is not for the faint of heart. Sutton stresses that the home is a "damsel in distress," requiring a full roof replacement, significant repairs from water damage and upgrades and/or replacements to all of the systems. Indeed, having sat vacant for at least 30 years, it's perhaps a small miracle that the house is still standing at all — but that's a testament to how well it was constructed back in 1876 for a prominent and affluent Louisville merchant.
"The craftsmanship and the level of detail in the house grab your attention," says Sutton. "It’s enough to make you understand the care that was put into the house when it was built, and helps you see through the tremendous amount of rehabilitation that will be required to bring it back."
Anyone interested in buying the home must be prepared to sign a Rehabilitation Agreement as proof that they have both good intentions and a realistic plan for preserving the building. Moreover, in order to ensure that it is preserved in perpetuity, the Georgia Trust will place a conservation easement on the home. "The Trust currently has about 50 properties around the state that have this type of protection on them, and we check in on them every year," says Sutton.
For more information, visit the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation or Ben Sutton, Historic Properties Coordinator at (404) 885-7819.