Greensboro is full of old and new neighborhoods, contemporary and historic ones, and the architectural style of the houses run the gamut from ranch, traditional, and Renaissance Revival. Several of these individual neighborhoods are close-knit communities with distinctive personalities and defining landmarks. With the nice walking weather finally here, we took a look at three popular, historic districts and their unique characteristics.
Location: Off Lawndale Drive, north of Cornwallis Drive
Home styles: Ranch, mid-century modern, and Minimal Traditional
Landmarks: The Holt House, built in 1927-1928, was designed by architect Harry Simmonds to resemble the Gorgas House at the University of Alabama. Also in the neighborhood is a Lustron House, built around 1948. It’s only one of a few Lustron homes remaining in Greensboro.
A seemingly-small subdivision with scenic streets names like Dellwood, Fernwood, and Bluemont, the road appears to go on forever as it folds and intertwines, showing a myriad of architectural-style homes. Kirkwood development began during the roaring 1920s, and was spurred by the success of Irving Park to the south. Kirkwood features streets with patriotic names such as Liberty and Colonial streets.
The Lustron Corporation built smaller-square-footage homes in Kirkwood after WWII for returning veterans who needed efficient and affordable homes — and fast; they were often assembled within two weeks. Later, many homes were built by W.H. Weaver Construction Company, offering an affordable standard-sized floor plan popular with first time homebuyers in the 1950s and 1960s.
Today, Kirkwood is known for its eclectic-styled homes, smaller homes that mingle with larger ones built in later years. It’s a prestigious neighborhood favored by young professionals with families.
And, everyone in Greensboro associates Kirkwood with its over-the-top Fourth of July parade that lines Independence Street (and othersnearby) with spectators; a massive flag hangs from street post to street post. A day of celebrating and in-yard tailgating follows, often lasting well into the evening hours. The July Fourth event is so popular that neighbors even schedule vacations around it.
Neighborhood: Irving Park
Style: Golf course community
Location: The neighborhood winds around the Greensboro Country Club
Home styles: Colonial Revival, Tudor, and Georgian Revival
Landmark: The Greensboro Country Club and its 18-hole golf course is the signature landmark of the neighborhood. The course was redesigned by golf course architect Donald J. Ross between 1925 and 1930.
Not far from Kirkwood sits the elegant community of Irving Park, which is among the earliest communities in the region to integrate a recreational golf course into the plan of a neighborhood. Stone, brick, and pillared homes with manicured lawns dot the streets, featuring examples of some of the best 20th century architecture in North Carolina; the neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Irving Park is a true picture of the Old South and conjures up images of evening porch sitting, with folks drinking sweet tea. It’s also a peaceful retreat where homeowners spend time working in landscaped gardens, and in the evening take long walks with the family dog.
“We love it here,” said Kim Lewis, longtime resident. “The convenience is amazing, as are the parks — Bill Craft, Johnson and Latham; all beautiful, and a great place to enjoy the great outdoors within steps of our home. And, our pup loves it, too.”
Style: Artsy and diverse
Location: Summit Avenue area around Swann Middle School
Home styles: Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Craftsmen
Landmarks: The castle-like Vaught House, the Mediterranean-inspired Sigmund Sternberger House, Sternberger Artist Center, and the Swann Middle School, designed by New York firm Starrett and Van Vleck.
An artist center, old-fashioned farmers market, War Memorial Stadium (where baseball greats Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle played), and an artsy vibe define the historic neighborhood called Dunleah. The diverse neighborhood attracts 20-year-olds, college professors, artists, entrepreneurs, and tradespeople who live among the early 20th century homes surrounding Swann Middle School.
The neighborhood grew out of necessity and hard work in 1895, when textile magnate Ceasar Cone paved Summit Avenue, a boulevard that connected downtown Greensboro to Cone’s manufacturing facilities. Residents flowed into the convenient location and Queen Anne-style homes sprung up followed by Colonial Revival and Craftsman.
Years passed and the neighborhood suffered from neglect. A second rebirth happened in the 1970s when Dunleath was rediscovered by artists and the DIY crowd was attracted by homes with spacious floor plans and modest price tags. A Renaissance Revival house was donated by the Sigmund Sternberger Foundation, which became an artist studio for writers, photographers, and other creative types in the Sternberger Artists Center. The long, brick-veneered villa is easily identifiable with its limestone entry arcade, limestone Palladian arches at its wings, and a green ceramic tile roof. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the high-spirited community works tirelessly to promote its neighborhood with special events throughout the year, like the Porch Fest Music Festival in the summer. And, neighbors revel in their deep front porches that are perfect for hanging with friends and family — anytime of the year.
To learn more about Greensboro’s rich architectural history and special events, or take a neighborhood walking tour, visit preservationgreensboro.org.
[Editor’s Note: Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro, and David Wharton, executive committee member of the Dunleath Neighborhood Association, helped provide historical information.]