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Jul-30-2012 10:23printcomments

Bargain Basement Deals on America's Historic Homes?

Serious pieces of American history are selling for very little cost.

1820's house with amazing history for only nine grand
How about an 1820's house with amazing history for only nine grand? The only catch, is that you will need to relocate it.

(SALEM) - As the value of the American dream itself goes into mortgage, there appears an interesting value-based aspect in the historical housing market of this country.

Historic Baltimore, Md. by Tim King

I spent a lot of time looking at houses as a teenager with my parents in different parts of California. This is back in the late 1970's and even then historic properties in the land of sunshine began at over a hundred thousand and those were the 'fixer-uppers'.

A recent trip to Baltimore opened my eyes to the notion of a 200+ year old American city. I have seen old in California, and if you are talking about Olvera Street (Oldest street in LA) then you are potentially exploring a historical connection that dates back to the 16th Century.

However most of the state is very modern by comparison.

The same is true for other states I have lived in; Oregon, Nevada and Arizona all have great history, but nothing like the east coast and the Midwest.

HistoricProperties.com, a group I have only observed through their online listings, has a fascinating Website packed with houses for sale that in some cases, are from as far back as the 1700's.

Artist T.C. Steele

The T.C. Steele house in Indiana

The real eye opener is the price structure of many of these homes; like the boyhood home of T.C. Steele (Theodore Clement Steele), circa 1850; for a whopping $12,500? He went on to become one of the one of the preeminent Hoosier artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The house is big and looks stable and is located in the heartland of America. Sure, Indiana's economy isn't the best, but we're in a new age where region means less and technology means more. We dream about having homes like this someday for a writer-in-residence program. It is fun to think about.

During one period of his rural country life, Steele concentrated on painting the hills and hollows of Indiana and his presence helped to attract a group of artists who became known as the Brown County Art Colony.

His paintings can be categorized into three main time periods, including the Munich period (1880 – 1885); Brookville period (1898 – 1906) and Brown County period (1907 – 1926) [1].

The Norman Sage house in Elkhart, Indiana

Maybe the history of a famous artist doesn't do it for you, and class and space are your main desires. Well, you have to pay more, but for $85 grand you can have a house that looks like it is right out of a movie, another located in the nation's reputed land of high unemployment; Elkhart, Indiana.

Regarding this property, the Website states:

The Norman Sage house offers a wide variety of use opportunities including owner occupied duplex, live work or single family home. Located in a National Register and locally designated district, the rehabilitation would be eligible for income tax credits. An easy two-block walk connects you to the River Walk or the downtown main street.

The exterior restoration is 90% complete, including a recently installed new roof, tuck-pointing, paint and porch. The interior will require a complete rehabilitation including mechanical, electrical and finish. Spacious first floor rooms offer great arrangement for office with a residence on the 2nd floor. Second floor includes a funky 1950's kitchen and bathroom along with three additional large rooms. A 750 sq. foot garage completes the package[2].

The Branch Grove in North Carolina, is one of those properties that needs to be moved or it is going to be demolished. It is shown in the top photo above and the place is incredible. Dating back to the 1820's, the home of Samuel Warren Branch, Branch Grove is described as a well preserved Federal style tripartite house with an older Georgian style house attached to the rear corner! Located roughly two miles outside of Enfield, Branch Grove was the birthplace of Alpheus Branch, founder of Branch Banking and Trust.

Here is how it is described on the Website:

An unusual blend of Federal and Georgian styles, Branch Grove is ideal for a buyer interested in restoring a house that is truly unique. An excellent example of the plantation homes favored by Warren – Halifax county planters in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Branch Grove offers well-preserved accents and details that reflect the skill and craftsmanship particular to architecture of its time period. Original heart pine flooring survives throughout the house, as well as wainscoting, the staircase and newel post, and the majority of the paneled doors.

While the exterior of the house appears modest, Branch Grove retains the elegance and simplicity that characterize plantation homes. In addition to the high-quality wood and detail work the house has an attractive floor plan and large rooms that offer a number of options for restoration. The house will require extensive rehabilitation, including new baths and kitchen, installation of all mechanical systems, a new foundation and chimneys, and cosmetic repairs.

The catch, if you will... is that Branch Grove has to be moved and so whoever buys it will have a task on their hands. However, there are some potential parcels that could serve as good sites for relocation. It is required that the house remain as close as possible to its original setting. [3].

I am particularly fascinated with the Civil War period and there aren't many places where you can get the best of both worlds in regard to this history like Missouri which is one of the states dividing the old north and south.

One property listed in this Website dates back to 1840 and you can just about picture Mark Twain rocking on the porch.

This pre-Civil War home listed for $32,500, actually includes four property lots. It is located on a branch of the Santa Fe Trail in historic exington's Highland Avenue National Historic District. The classic Greek Revival-style property is ready for renovation and still includes many original architectural details.

The history of this friendly Missouri River town includes the famed outfitting of the Santa Fe Trail; the 1852 Steamboat Saluda disaster; and the 1861 Battle of the Hemp Bales.

A civil war battle named for big bales of pot, isn't that cool? Hemp is marijuana, it used to be one of the primary crops in this part of the United States for a very long time, until the passage of the Cannabis Tax Act of 1936. The rich history of this town, located approximately 45 miles east of downtown Kansas City, actually dates back to 1822.

Lexington is pleased to have four districts on the National Register of Historic Places and an impressive array of antebellum homes. It features many antique shops, restaurants and bed & breakfasts doing business in beautifully restored vintage buildings. Lexington is well known for the Civil War cannonball embedded in one of the grand columns of the 1847 Lafayette County Courthouse. This charming community offers history buffs and those who enjoy historic architecture an opportunity to step back in time. This Old House magazine just named Lexington as one of its best places to buy an old house[4].

The only thing to do if you are interested, is to visit HistoricProperties.com and cruise around to see all of the offerings that they have listed. It is a fun place to explore and there is no question that it would be very good for the rural and forgotten parts of the United States to see a revival of life and economic prosperity, I hope it happens sooner rather than later!

[1] www.historicproperties.com/detail.asp?detail_key=nchlf044

[2] www.historicproperties.com/detail.asp?detail_key=nchlf058

[3] www.historicproperties.com/detail.asp?detail_key=Sepnc127

[4] www.historicproperties.com/detail.asp?detail_key=ncwhr094


Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.

Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu, India.

Tim at his family ranch in Chino, California.

Tim's notorious list of ancestors includes Pedro de Alvarado, the lieutenant of Hernando Cortez of Spain; King Phillip IV, Eleanor of Aquitaine and William the Conqueror. Perhaps most interestingly, King John; the dark force in the story Robin Hood, and also the last Spanish governor of California, the arch rival of the character in the fictional story, Zorro, are in reality both Tim's multiple-great grandfathers. Others include a Confederate officer in the U.S. Civil War and a decorated 'hero' of the Mexican-American War and the so-called 'Indian Wars'. In fact on the east coast, Tim's lineage with the Slaughter and King families, pre-dates the Mayflower and several members of his family were soldiers in the Revolutionary War. He says his family's past; some of which is very dark; some quite chivalrous, presents a certain responsibility, and that in part drives his desire to see that people in today's world are not exploited or allowed to suffer in silence as victims of Human Rights violations.

In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.

Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide. You can write to Tim at this address: tim@salem-news.com. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)

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