Sunday, June 16, 2013

Centerville's The Columns goes on the market

 I see that Morgan Cline, Centerville's major benefactor, is marketing The Columns --- home to an upscale gift boutique and retail little sister to Bradley Hall for more than a decade. The home is located a block north of Centerville's beautiful square at the intersection of North Main and East Washington streets, just across an intersection from the city's equally beautiful First United Methodist Church.

You find out about stuff like this by being an old house junkie --- checking in now and then at places like OldHouses.Com where The Columns currently is a featured listing.

The sale appears to be private --- anyone interested is invited to "contact seller privately." And the list price is $197,000. That's actually not bad considering the high standards of restoration and maintenance that Cline imposes on his properties --- try restoring a house of similar scale on your own. The location would not be to everyone's residential taste; others would love it. 

According to the entry, Cline operations in Centerville are consolidating their retail wing in the far larger and considerably grander flagship Bradley. The entry suggests that The Columns would make a fine bed and breakfast, which it once was. It's also has served in the years when owner-occupants moved out as an antiques shop, nursing home and community college dormitory.

According to the late Bill Heusinkveld's "Historic Homes of Centerville, Iowa," the big white-painted brick Columns was built during 1895 by Albert E. Wooden, elder son of Centerville pioneer merchant and banker James R. Wooden. After the deaths of Albert Wooden and his wife, Mary, the house was sold to Harry Jennings, who owned a wholesale grocery company. It became a nursing home in the early 1950s and later an antiques shop and college dormitory before returning to private home status, then its most recent sale, to Cline.

The interior of the house, high Victorian, does not quite match the facade, early 20th century Greek Revival, so I suspect that the porches and porte cochere were added later. It is, however, a pleasant composition.

I'm a longtime fan of both Bradley Hall and The Columns, not so much because of the upscale merchandise they contain (sorry), but because of the old houses that contain the merchandise. Bradley Hall, quite frankly is an intimidating house --- over-the-top grandeur. The Columns always seemed like a place people actually might live and be comfortable. Besides, what I take to be the original Columns study or library contained a small bookshop --- where I purchased several of Heusinkveld's interesting books related to Appanoose County history.

The photos here all are swiped from The Columns' Facebook page, where the focus is on retail rather than on architecture, so it's kind of hard to get a feel for the interior of the house. But the front door leads into a large entrance hall with soaring double-turn open stair and fireplace.

Doubled pocket doors lead to the left into a big front room, then directly ahead to the west into a pleasant glassed-in sun room. The clear glass in the original front room window was replaced by Cline during restoration by an art glass window (visible in the exterior photos here) that, if I'm recalling the story correctly, was left over after restoration of Bradley Hall had been completed. This is a valuable window, so a potential buyer --- depending upon his or her taste --- would need to inquire whether or not it stays.

Three large rooms lead through doubled doors from one to the other en suite along the west side of the house, front room, back parlor and dining room (at the rear). There is a second first-floor fireplace in the back parlor, flanked by windows and located in a bay that extends this room to the west.

What I'm taking to be the original study or library, with en suite bathroom, is located east of the back parlor, just behind the staircase hall. The kitchen, left intact during conversion for retail use, is located in the northeast corner of the house, adjacent to the dining room. The cabinetry along the kitchen's south wall contains doorways to the basement stairs (the basement has been in use for retail display, too) and a twisting back stairway to the second floor.

The front, or south, portion of the second floor contains three full-sized bedrooms over the downstairs front room, back parlor and library as well as a smaller room over the stair hall that could, in a pinch, serve as a bedroom, too.

A long center hall leads back to another bedroom, bath, storeroom and access to the back stairs at the north end of the house.

What I take to have been the master bedroom, with en suite bathroom, is the largest and also contains a fireplace in the bay extending to the west.

Interested? Well, contact the seller.

No comments: