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It Just Shows

1912 Colonial Revival cottage.


The best part of this house is the street! This stretch of Carr Avenue, between Rembert and Barksdale, is filled with early-20th-century cottages, each one more wonderfully landscaped than the next. This block of Carr also runs along a valley (in Memphis, Tennessee!) between Peabody and Vinton, and as a result, most of the houses are built high on brick foundations with porches filled with furniture overlooking the street. You sense everyone here knows all their neighbors and loves this block. It just shows.

The house is a humble Colonial Revival cottage from the early 1910s. Generally you think of Colonial Revival as a center-hall plan, but on narrower urban lots the door is placed off-center, as done here. A high-peaked gable facing the street is filled by a pair of multilight windows in the colonial style but with undersized shutters.

The full-width front porch is a welcoming space and has nicely scaled box columns. You could legitimately add a little more detail by rebuilding the front-porch railing with heavier wood elements and adding trellises on each end of the porch. A central diamond pattern in the trellis would nicely echo the high front gable end.

Inside has been gutted to a loft-like public space. The tall-ceilinged living and dining rooms focus on a freestanding, exposed-brick chimney that burns wood. The kitchen is at the rear, with a breakfast bar dividing it from the dining room. Pine floors attest to the modest beginings of this house (when oak was all the rage and pine was painted). Today the wider range of color and grain pattern in pine is seen as very desirable, and the floors have been nicely refinished.

An east-side sun room overlooks both side and rear yards. The yard is privacy-fenced and features a deck under the dappled light of an old walnut tree. This rear deck can also be accessed from the ground-floor master bedroom. This suggests that you could sleep upstairs and treat this rear room as a den if you only need two bedrooms.

Upstairs a small sitting area at the top of the landing could also be a handy home office. The bedrooms, fore and aft, are tucked under the high roof. A central bath is enlarged by an overscaled skylight that floods this room with morning light. The outside of the house is nicely painted, but the inside's color scheme is a bit worn. A unifying light repainting would do wonders to perk things up.

The front yard has brick steps up past a retaining wall and onto the porch. There's off-street parking with a drive gate into the side yard. Since this one block is entered only from cross streets, there's little opportunity for speeders. Besides, with as many interesting houses and yards to view, who could ever be in a hurry? There's just too much to enjoy on this block.

1951 Carr Avenue, 1,650 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths; $159,500, FSBO, 276-9900

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