Enduring architecture: ranch-style homes still a find 60 years later

Published 1:23 pm Saturday, February 22, 2020

Past Havens Gardens and over the Runyon Creek bridge, River Road rolls through Washington Park. The parklike setting of “The Park” has been a constant draw for those in search of a home that’s as close to town as one can get, but with the more rural feel of a river community.

What stands out about The Park is that it’s accessible. While there are the larger, more stately homes residing across Riverside Drive from the Pamlico and at the eastern end of Isabella Avenue, a block or two away, more modest homes can be found, many of them the staple of mid-century home design — the ranch-style house. At the height of their popularity, nine out of every 10 new houses being built in the U.S. were ranch homes, a design based on North American Spanish Colonial architecture: single stories to beat the southwestern heat, long, low rooflines, wide eaves, large windows; most with attached garages and a set or two of sliding glass doors.

OPEN PLAN: Painted wood paneling and a southern exposure make the den a bright, cheery room. The den was Tom Miller’s favorite room in the house.

Though they’re no longer the most popular style house in the U.S., a solid ranch house is still in demand — just ask Edie Miller. Her Washington Park home was listed and under contract in 16 days, with the help of Coldwell Banker Coastal Rivers real estate agent Beth Byrd. Built in 1952, at three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a living room and den that opens onto the kitchen, it’s a spacious, yet cozy, 2,000 square feet of single-single story Park living.

It was home to Edie and Tom Miller for just two short years — the couple moved to Washington and Country Club Estates 14 years before.

“We actually moved here when Tom retired. Our son was in Florida, and our daughter was in D.C., and we thought we’d be in between. … I loved that it’s single story, close to things. We probably should have bought here first,” Edie Miller laughed.

ORIGINAL: The oak hardwood flooring runs throughout the house, add warmth to large and small rooms alike.

An avid gardener and master gardener volunteer, Miller embarked on turning the backyard into a summer haven. They’d had plans to add a front porch to the home, so Miller focused on the backyard. The new owners will have some unique and rather rare species to look forward to in the spring, including a Japanese Cornel Dogwood with its bright yellow blooms and reddish bark.

“My grandparents and my parents were gardeners, and I just really enjoyed it,” Miller said. “You can spend a lot of time here doing gardening because of the yard.”

Another plus for the owners, is that it sits on a hill, several feet above the flood plain and requires no flood insurance, a rarity in Washington Park.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: An elegant mantelpiece creates a focal point for one living room wall, while another boasts three windows and plenty of light.

“That’s a really big deal — a lot of the neighbors park their cars up here during storms,” Miller said.

After Tom Miller passed away in 2018, their daughter and son-in-law invited Edie Miller to move in with them and offered to build her an apartment in their spacious Chevy Chase, Maryland, home. Miller will be moving north, along with a few of her favorite plants.

“I’ve really enjoyed Washington. This is a much easier place to live, and everybody was really nice to us. We enjoyed it,” Miller said. “But I’m looking forward to getting close to family again.”

WINTER’S VIEW: A large deck and a hilltop setting offer an expansive view of Washington Park.