If this doesn’t feel like a warm and welcoming neighborhood, it’s hard to know what would. Passing by 709 Mary Ball St. on a recent Friday morning was a caravan of a dozen or more moms pushing their jogging strollers along the sidewalk. Across the street is Kenmore Park, with its picnic tables, playground and tennis courts.
A half block up is Washington Avenue, where the Mary (Ball) Washington Monument honors the first president’s mother, and right nearby is Meditation Rock, where she came to pray. Also nearby is the Thomas Jefferson Religious Freedom Monument.
A half block down is Kenmore Avenue, with the Fredericksburg Dog Park and the paved Rappahannock Canal Path is just around the corner.
This neighborhood that pays homage to the nation’s first “first mother” is seeing a bit of a renaissance with houses being updated and renewed. Earlier this year, local real estate agent Alex Belcher, of Alex Belcher Real Estate, bought 709 Mary Ball St. to refurbish and resell it. His dad, longtime local agent Buzz Belcher, took on the job of project manager to oversee the project.
With a thorough cleaning, repainting, remodeling and a couple of structural modifications to update the floor plan, the house is ready for new owners. Alex Belcher is listing it with an asking price of $694,400.
“We wanted to make the house more livable,” Buzz Belcher said in a telephone interview. “With such a small kitchen, it didn’t have the appeal people are looking for, but we did want to keep the old Fredericksburg look.”
The house has four bedrooms and three full bathrooms with a little over 3,000 square feet of living space on three levels. It sits on a typical city lot of a little over a tenth of an acre.
Something that sets this property apart from its neighbors is the backyard swimming pool, surrounded by a concrete deck and privacy fencing.
The house was built in 1949 on a street that’s sort of an extension of the College Terrace, or “Below the University” neighborhood. The idea was to provide housing for Mary (Ball) Washington College professors and their families.
The original structure at 709 Mary Ball St. had a rear addition built, but it’s unclear exactly when. The electrical system and plumbing have been updated in the older portion of the house.
The original house was built using cinder block construction. Though it’s uncertain that this is one of them, many Fredericksburg houses dating to the post-World War II era were built using blocks from the local Frackelton Block Co., which was established by Robert Leigh Frackelton in 1946.
The front yard has a huge magnolia tree. Other overgrown foundation shrubs were removed and replaced with new small shrubs. Window flower boxes grace the main-level window frames.
The main entry opens to the living room, with a fireplace on the far wall and a staircase to the left. The lustrous refinished hardwood floors begin here and are found in many rooms.
Immediately behind the living room is the kitchen, where a major part of the remodeling project took place. Once a small room that adjoined a dining room, the kitchen has been transformed into a brand new, open space that incorporates the eating area.
“The kitchen was a full gut, down to the framing and subfloor,” Alex Belcher said
Doorways into the space have been widened to help open up the floor plan. A load-bearing wall between the original kitchen and dining room was removed and replaced with a steel beam in the ceiling to provide structural support.
The bright, new island kitchen is the centerpiece of the remodel. It’s an eye-popping combination of marble-look granite, KitchenAid stainless steel appliances, craftsman-style cabinetry and ceramic tile floor. There’s a white farmhouse-style sink, and the backsplash is visually interesting beveled subway tile. The professional-style range has the added convenience of a pot-filler faucet.
At one end, the kitchen spills into the sunken family room, a cozy space with pine paneling on three walls. The fourth wall holds the home’s second wood-burning fireplace (both are relined and safe to use), this one flanked by built-in white shelving.
The other end of the kitchen opens to a hallway that leads to the full, main-level bathroom and a room in the addition with shelving that could serve as a home office.
There is also a back stairway here that has a new steel banister and leads to the master suite that’s part of the addition. This space has a large bedroom, a sitting area and a newly remodeled bathroom with tray ceiling that shares the kitchen’s marble-like granite and tile. There’s a double vanity, freestanding soaking tub and separate, glass-enclosed shower. The contemporary bathroom mirror has LED lighting embedded around the edges.
The laundry room is just outside the master suite.
In the original upstairs portion of the house there are two secondary bedrooms that share a remodeled hall bathroom.
One more flight up is finished attic space that could serve as an extra bedroom or a studio.
Privacy fencing, some of it new, wraps from the side of the house around to the back. The pool deck provides private patio and entertaining space.