Inside King Lear’s House

By on 27 April, 2015 in Kate and Stephen, Real Estate with 0 Comments

For those who don’t know, MML is sponsored by the Hat Team Realtors. This means two things for our readers. First, you get to read all of our content without advertisements – a blessing in today’s increasingly ad-ridden Internet experience. Second, it means that sometimes we get to go look around in other people’s houses (only when they’re for sale, not just randomly). Some time ago, we wrote up Montgomery’s famous “Rock House,” judging it suitable for secret agents and super-villians alike. It remains one of our most popular posts. So, we’ve decided to make this an occasional series, partnering with our friends at the Hat Team.

On a rainy day recently, I got to tour King Lear’s house. Okay, it’s the home of the actor who is playing King Lear in ASF’s current (and amazing) production (and the extremely talented actress Greta Lambert) but still. The home, at 3032 Gilmer, is now on the market – so owner Rodney Clark and Hat Team Realtor Lauren Layfield walked me through.

The first thing you notice about the house is how private it seems – you could drive right by it and miss it, it’s so secluded from Gilmer. Great trees and shrubs create a lovely front yard, meticulously landscaped in a sanctuary style with some of the home’s 25(!) Japanese maples and a path leading to the front porch. I felt like I was getting a lesson in what “curb appeal” really means. It’s one of those houses that is, weirdly, much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. The two-story blue craftsman opens with a foyer with lovely black marble – an unusual choice for the neighborhood, but one that really makes a dramatic first impression. It contrasts well with the white wood paneling below the chair rail downstairs.

The next thing you notice, once you’re inside, is all of the light. Owner Rodney told me that there were at least 40 windows in the house, and they’re the fantastic old kind – even on a cloudy day, every bit of the house feels open and airy. The first floor is all about living space, with a circular floor plan that leads you into a kitchen. I don’t often feel kitchen envy, but the by-hand remodel in the kitchen made me want to get out a cutting board and get to work. The windows in this room overlook the expansive back gardens – I could imagine cooking in here and feeling like I was in some kind of fancy country resort. The floors in this room were repurposed from an old barn, and they flow nicely with the original hardwoods throughout.

In addition to the expected living and dining rooms on the first floor, there is a breakfast room that seems to match the dining room in size. It’s got great views of the yard and leads out onto a cozy raised deck. There’s also one of the very nicest sunrooms I have ever seen outside of the pages of Southern Living. Floor to ceiling windows line three walls, and it’s like being in the middle of a park. I almost took a seat, put my feet up, and started reading a novel – then I remembered my manners.

Up the sturdy staircase, one turn leads you into a circle of rooms. There are four bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs, each anchoring a corner of the top floor with all the accompanying light you’d expect. There’s even a place where an enterprising person might add a rooftop deck. Like many constructed in the 1930s, the house has some great floor-to-ceiling built-in closets. The owners have also done a thoughtful job of adding additional storage — a laundry room downstairs with great capacity, and a surprisingly large closet hidden off the master bathroom. We Midtown residents are notorious closet-counters. I guess we just have more stuff to store than when our houses were originally built. In any case, this house has a good bit more storage than I’m used to seeing for its size and age.

In short, this is a home to fall in love with. It’s free of the kind of imperfections so many of us live with every day in Midtown – old house love means getting used to your cracks, planning someday for that fresh coat of paint, dreaming of a more organized garden, wishing for elves to come and remodel your kitchen. We all have our lists. This is a good example of a house where the list is already done. I wistfully imagined moving here and not having to do any repairs.

A final note about the house. It’s incredibly well-priced. This isn’t an advertisement for the house, but a note on the vagaries of property values. I don’t follow the market that closely, but I am pretty sure (and Lauren confirmed for me) that if this house were across the street in the Garden District, it’d likely set a buyer back another hundred thousand (the current list price is $179k). Which is crazy, because South Hull is a beautiful and friendly neighborhood.

Maybe I shouldn’t go on these tours. I always come back with home envy. But I also get inspired to fix things up in our own old house, with ideas to spare. I feel lucky to have seen the Gilmer house and hope it finds a good buyer. King Lear might be one of the darkest of Shakespeare’s plays, but its star definitely lives in one of the brightest and most beautiful homes I’ve seen in Montgomery. For more information, you can view the property listing online here.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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