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Room To Roam

Circa 1950 rancher in King's Grove.

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This is a great example of suburban housing built right after WWII, at the point when the car replaced the trolley as America's principal means of transportation and open land beyond the inner city became easily accessible.

In 1941, Leroy King built a grand Colonial Revival house on his country estate between Park Avenue and Quince, just east of the property where Hugo and Margaret Dixon built in 1940. After the war, the estate was divided and sold. Harding Academy bought the house and grounds at the corner of Park and Cherry to use for its campus. The rear of the King estate was known as the Grove because of the magnificent stand of hardwoods there. In the 1950s, this was platted into a subdivision of huge lots, all more than an acre, carved out of the old-growth trees and named, appropriately, King's Grove.

Ranch-style houses were the most popular housing type for the new suburbs, with sprawling plans, often only one or two rooms deep, and facades made broader by a garage appended to the end near the kitchen. They had low rooflines and front porches that morphed into a narrow, covered walk meant to shelter guests from the drive to the central entry.

Exterior materials tended to reflect the modern, casual lifestyle and were generally low-maintenance — such as the vertical, pecky cypress board-and-batten siding and the front porch with heavy timber columns and a broken-tile floor on this house.

Inside, this custom-built house is nicely zoned, with all the bedrooms to one end and the public spaces to the other. The kitchen, breakfast, and master bedroom are laid out along the back, with big picture windows to open the interior to the verdant, private rear yard. The combined living and dining rooms are across the front with large windows sheltered by the covered walkway.

The bedroom wing is up several steps, further distancing it from the public rooms. The master, at the far rear corner, has two nicely outfitted walk-in closets and a capacious bath with separate tub and shower. Both the bedroom and bath open to a private deck shaded by mature tulip poplars.

The den has a trendy wet bar and a fireplace faced with thin Arkansas stone, stacked in the manner popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright. Behind it and down a step is a family/media room with access to the rear brick terrace. The kitchen looks across the breakfast room to the backyard. The custom cabinetry is topped by rich Brazilian granite, and the island is accented with two fab brushed-aluminum ceiling fixtures that are obviously original and wonderful.

This is a stylish house that is now in the center of Memphis, sited on a property that offers garden opportunities as well as plenty of space for expansion. If you dream of owning a ranch with room to roam, you can do everything here but rustle cattle.

1205 Fairmeadow

Approximately 3,600 sq. ft.

4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 half-baths; $369,000

Realtor: First National Realty, 255-2745

Agent/owner: Brian Mallory, 870-4663

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