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Garden Party

Circa 1912 four-square in Central Gardens.



This house is centrally located in Central Gardens on a large corner lot, with a wooden fence on the street side that encloses a wonderfully private courtyard for entertaining. French doors lead from the kitchen out to a patio covered by a cypress arbor. The arbor is quite tall, but a climbing vine knocks off the midday sun and a ceiling fan stirs the summer breeze. Perennials and herbs inside the fence provide seasonal interest. A curving hedge screens the rear drive and garage.

The other rear quadrant is more open and has a low, rose-covered picket fence, a play yard, and a crisply laid-out vegetable garden with raised planting beds and fine gravel walks. Several old figs, a mock orange, and "Pride of Mobile" azaleas add Southern flavor. The kitchen and mudroom connect to this yard, and that makes it easy to clean kids and veggies. Irrigation makes it easy to water the lawn.

Out back is the original two-story garage with two parking bays down and two rooms up. The groundfloor rooms are currently used for storage and a workshop. Upstairs has potential as a great guest suite or handy detached home office. An electric gate on the rear alley controls access to the drive and garage. The front yard has a grand sweep of lawn with one immense oak and an equally laudable sasanqua camellia as big as any in town.

The house is a four-square with Arts and Crafts touches. Stucco is used between the upper windows. Brick covers the exterior below the second-floor windows. It's often the case that the upper stucco level is painted a darker color to emphasize the deep shade into which it is cast by the immense roof overhang. This overhang, usually found only in houses from the 1910s and 1920s, is underappreciated. It permits the second-floor windows to stay dry in a gentle rain and prevents the high summer sun from heating up the second floor — no small job!

The current owners have been in residence for seven busy years. Besides all that yardwork, they've overhauled the house, too. In addition to storm windows, two deep, bracketed canopies were added at both the front and west-side entries. These are copper-roofed and provide elegant shelter for guests.

Inside is a grand foyer that, with the living room, stretches across the front of the house. An equally spacious dining room has a cozy, glassed-in sunroom to the east and a renovated kitchen to the west. A large island topped with hard-rock maple butcher block dominates the oak-floored kitchen, which was created by removing a wall between two rooms. The island fronts two walls of white marble counters and painted cabinets that hold sink, cooktop, double ovens, and refrigerator. There is also a desk with lots of bookcases above it and still room for a couple of easy chairs or a big breakfast table in this expanded layout. The mudroom behind has lots of pantry cabinets, an extra sink, and laundry facilities. Dual central heat and air systems were installed, and plumbing and electrical services upgraded.

There are three large bedrooms and a small sitting/playroom upstairs. Both bathrooms here have been gutted and rebuilt. The hall bath retains its cast-iron tub, original pedestal sink, and toilet. A comfortable shower was added. The master bath has a long, white marble-topped vanity and a tub/shower combo. Subway tile on the walls and one-inch hexagonal tile on the floors give both baths a period feeling. Several closets were combinedto make a walk in closet with lots of built-ins for the master bedroom.

This house is certainly well set up both for raising a family and entertaining. Few homes are as well integrated with their exterior spaces. The real delight here is how readily family and friends can spill out to play and party in garden spaces that are cozy and welcoming in any season.

1442 Goodbar Avenue

Approximately 3,400 square feet

3 bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths: $599,000

Realtor: Coleman-Etter, Fontaine


Agents: Fontaine Brown and Fontaine Taylor

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