Great Places to Live
There’s more to a great neighborhood than great homes. Include top-notch schools, easy transportation, stellar shopping, cultural and recreational diversions, and a palpable pride of place. Here are 11 areas that stand out.
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Click here to download the entire real estate chart (112KB). This chart compares home sales from 2005 through 2009. Average price is indicated in thousands, rounded to the nearest thousandth. Range refers to the lowest and highest selling prices during the year indicated. Also included is the number of houses sold during the year. NA indicates that no homes were sold. Figures were compiled by Steven Sachs, Brian Sachs and Jeffrey Schoch of Steven Sachs Appraisal Access, 3654 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 477-9676.
OLD NEW CASTLE
There’s No Place Like It
Back in the 1940s, Old New Castle was identified as the site for a Colonial Williamsburg-like historic village. It didn’t work out, but thanks to an aggressive program of preservation ordinances, residents still enjoy living in one of the most authentic Colonial towns in existence, an island unto itself.
“Be prepared for high-maintenance living,” local Realtor Tim Scully warns. “Some people discover that the unique lifestyle offered here is not for them.”
What Scully means is that historic homes can be challenging: low doorways, narrow staircases, low ceilings, dirt basements, lack of storage, etc.—not to mention unique upkeep issues. In the historic district, such easy-maintenance marvels such as vinyl siding are strictly prohibited. If the materials don’t fit the period, you won’t see them. You will see historically authentic materials such as brick, cedar, wood clapboard and ship lap. That means regular pointing and painting (in appropriate colors, of course).
But to Linda Ratchford, who moved to Old New Castle with her husband, Michael, 28 years ago, a house that’s historically preserved “has soul,” she says.
“The New Castle Historical Society does a blog about repairing old houses, contractors live here and work on houses, and your neighbors have contacts and referrals, too.
“The exteriors have to be historically accurate, but the interiors are up to the owners,” says Ratchford. “Honoring the historical integrity is important to us. That’s why Old New Castle looks the way it looks.”
The area offers 18th-century homes mixed with classic Victorians, more modern row homes and townhouses. Prices range from $200,000 to seven figures.
In-town conveniences are limited to the essentials. Yes, there is a Happy Harry’s, a liquor store, good pizza at Portofino’s and casual fare at Jack’s Bistro. There’s fine dining at The Arsenal on the Green, Jessop’s Tavern and Prince on Delaware. But for all else—including most Colonial District schools—you’ll have to journey a bit beyond the city line.
“Old New Castle is actually a great place to raise kids,” says Ratchford. “We have Battery Park, plus a little park on Bull Hill. You can walk down the street and get an ice cream cone or walk to the library.”
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