Tuesday, August 9, 2022

American Foursquare with unique staircase

NORFOLK — Old houses seldom seem to lack interesting features, and the home at 1600 Manteo Street in Norfolk certainly has a few features that qualify as interesting.

Built in 1920, its architectural style is American Foursquare, which was popular in the United States from the mid-1890s into the 1930s, said Kathryn Kramer, the listing agent for the home and a realtor with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

“This type of house was in contrast to elaborate Victorian houses, but features handcrafted woodwork, as well as elements of the Prairie School and Craftsman styles,” she added.

Foursquare homes get their name from their square shape and the fact that the interior floor plan is typically divided into quarters on each floor. Foursquare homes were economical to build and well-suited to smaller city lots. In 1890 there were no foursquare homes. But just 20 years later there were thousands of them throughout America’s cities.

As old homes often do, this one boasts some amazing woodwork on the inside, especially in the big front foyer, where the natural, unpainted wood is abundant.

“The woodwork is considered a flat panel wainscot,” said Kramer. “It’s believed to be mahogany and original to the house.”

The foyer is separated from the living room on the left and the dining room on the right by pairs of large French doors.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the home isn’t the beautifully wood-covered foyer itself, but the main staircase – the focal point of the foyer. Ascending from the first floor to the second, the stairway offers not just one but two routes as you climb.

“The centerpiece of this house is the bifurcated stairs, which simply means one main stair that splits at the landing into two opposing runs,” explained Kramer.

Reach the landing halfway up, turn left or turn right, and you still end up on the second floor.

Bifurcated stairways are often found in public buildings, but not as frequently in private homes.

“The juxtaposition of historic architecture with modern conveniences and amenities makes this house particularly unique,” said Kramer. “It is extremely rare to be situated in the heart of historical Ghent in a house that pays homage to the style of yesteryear, while enjoying a top-of-the-line gourmet kitchen, walk-in closet, whole-house generator, and two-car garage.”

For additional information about 1600 Manteo, visit Howard Hanna Real Estate Services online.

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