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Mid-Century Custom

Circa-1950s Cape Cod in Midtown.


It was the late 1940s. An all-consuming war had just ended. Domestic industries, including the housing market, were resurging. Traditional American forms like this Colonial Revival Cape Cod were the rage. (English Tudor and Mediterranean Revivals were out.) The G.I. Bill was fueling new construction, but most of it was smaller, one-story homes with only vaguely Colonial styling.

This home was obviously custom-designed by an architect. Great care was given to correct massing and details. The high-pitched roof and three dormers centered over the symmetrically placed front door and windows below are taken from early New England antecedents. The Georgian door surround, with its broken pediment and dents, is a touch of Colonial high style. If the shutters were hinged and operable, it would be too perfect.

An entry hall welcomes you. The generous living room runs front to back on the east side, getting natural light from three sides. A wood-burning fireplace is centered on the inside west wall. Even with its gracious scale, this is an efficiently laid out home. No space is wasted. Rather than carve out a full center hall from front to back and locate the staircase there, the stairs are placed at the back of the living room. It hurts neither furniture arrangement nor circulation.

On the opposite side of the foyer is the dining room with kitchen behind. Originally a screened porch ran along the west side, connecting to both these rooms. In the 1960s, the current owners enclosed the porch, creating a family room and enlarging the kitchen. The dining room still proudly displays two corner cabinets with carved-shell tops -- another elegant touch like the front-door surround.

There are more custom built-ins throughout the house. In addition to ample work space and a home-office area, the kitchen has separate broom and pantry closets. The two original upstairs bedrooms share a bath with a fold-down ironing board. The upstairs hall has spare closets and walls of built-in drawers. Downstairs, an added master suite has a sitting bay flanked by bookcases. The master dressing and vanity both have fold-out mirrors over polished, white-marble tops and walls of storage.

The sitting bay in the master overlooks a brick patio in the backyard. A screen of evergreens, including some magnificent magnolias, terminate the view. This house isn't one that's lacked for maintenance. The installation of some lighting for art, maybe new counters and splashes in the kitchen, and a paint job, and it's good for the next half-century.

2229 Jefferson Ave.

2,800 square feet, 3 bedrms, 2 1/2 baths; $335,000

Realtor: Sowell & Co., 278-4340, Agent: Ed Beasley

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