By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
Fixing up houses on Maple Street’s western tip, Barry Cohn and Doug Berenguer knew a thing or two about the building with the large columns.
They had read up about the Orvin family who framed the three-tier house at 164 Maple St. around 1940 within what was then known as Riverside Park.
A daughter, Ruth Orvin, founded a Christian school on the property (In fact, a surveyor the partners worked with had attended the school). By the 1980s and ’90s, the property at the northwest corner of Maple and Hester streets was alternately a halfway house and group home. It was vacant for at least the past decade.
What Berenguer and Cohn could not predict was how the building had stood up after all its incarnations. At some point the house had been partitioned, notably with a steel wall in what was the formal living room. Fire escapes ran along the outside of the buildling. Institutional trappings, such as a commercial kitchen and communal shower, overwhelmed the home.
Cohn and Berenguer — who bought the property in the fall via their Monocle Investments LLC venture — coordinated an overhaul. Removing enough debris to fill 38 dumpsters, the pair realized the house retained much of its nearly 73-year-old looks and style. They found horsehair and plaster crown molding, nearly 10-foot ceilings, original wood floors and a useable third level.
“We saw the (continued) transformation of the block,” Cohn says, explaining how the partners had already renovated houses just east of the 5,000-square-foot dwelling.
After seven months, the imposing house is almost finished, awaiting only final touches and any customized choices for an eventual buyer.
“I like to give people options,” Berenguer says.
A home again, 164 Maple St. is on the market for $849,000.
“This is a fabulous place,” says Carter Rowson, Realtor with The Cassina Group and listing agent.
Rowson sees the property in peninsular Charleston’s trendy Wagener Terrace neighborhood as ideal for well-to-do young families or doctors, lawyers or other professionals who want to live close to downtown offices or medical facilities.
According to Rowson, the residence stands out for its solid-brick construction and its two-story fluted columns on the front porch. Also striking is a wrought-iron fence wrapping the property: the artisan who designed the fence is Charleston’s renowned blacksmith Philip Simmons. Elsewhere, the corner lot is dotted with tall trees and mature plantings.
Contained on the first level are formal dining and living rooms and a “spacious, light-filled den,” each set off by refinished hardwood floors and original plaster moldings. Wood-burning fireplaces mark the den and living room.
Beyond the formal rooms is an up-to-date kitchen noted for distressed-style wood cabinets, granite counters and recessed lighting. Appliances include a Bosch dishwasher, built-in refrigerator and dual ranges. An exposed brick wall “harkens back to the home’s history,” Rowson says.
Also on the first tier is a mud room, half bath and a “starter” wine cellar, he says.
Highlighting the second floor is an extra-large master suite with spacious bedroom and an “opulent” bathroom sporting marble floors, soaking tub, two-person shower and a massive walk-in closet with windows for natural light, according to Rowson. Two guest rooms share a full bath, and hallway French doors open to a wrought-iron Shakespearean balcony overlooking the front yard, Rowson says.
On the top floor are two more bedrooms and a full bath. Each floor has its own climate control unit. The sellers are offering a $25,000 allowance to the buyer to finish the kitchen and/or for additional work, he says.
The house is well-situated. It’s just off Corrine Jones playground, which has tennis and basketball courts as well as soccer fields; and is in walking distance to Hampton Park.
As confirmation of their efforts, the partners received a letter in the fall from descendant Henry W. Orvin, a New York executive.
His grandfather built the house on six lots, and his father John Orvin moved into the property in 1946. Son Henry, born in 1959, lived there for eight years until his family moved.
“We have old 16mm movies of the house in its heyday that are now on DVD,” he says. “I drove my 89-year-old mother by it recently and we were both overcome with joy to see it being restored,” he says. “I look forward to seeing it soon in all its glory.”
Rowson is holding an open house at 164 Maple St. from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
The property is in the upper reaches of Wagener Terrace. To get there, travel north on King Street, then turn left on Huger Street. Go a couple of blocks and make a right on Rutledge Avenue. Continue about a mile to Maple Street. Take a left on Maple and proceed to the end. On the right is 164 Maple St.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or email@example.com.
Agent: Carter Rowson
Office: The Cassina Group Real Estate
Philosophy: “I believe that purchasing a home should be an exciting and enjoyable process. I take the time to listen to what my clients really want and pride myself on finding the perfect match for them through professional and courteous service.”