Beaufort's Northwest Quadrant singled out by This Old House magazine

February 16, 2010 

A screen shot from This Old House online shows a typical house found in Beaufort's Northwest Quadrant.

Houses in Beaufort's Northwest Quadrant might be modest, but their historic character captured the attention of This Old House online magazine, which has named the neighborhood one of 51 best places in the country to buy an old home.

For the magazine's third annual Best Places to Buy an Old House contest, editors highlighted one "oft-overlooked" neighborhood in each state with finely crafted older homes, and communities that appreciate them, according to the magazine's Web site.

"If you want to get in on the ground floor of a major downtown neighborhood revitalization, hit up Northwest Quadrant," according to the article. "The city and its preservation-minded mayor are determined to breathe new life into it by working with residents to edge sidewalks, clear vacant lots and push people to buy, restore and love a house here. ... This is a great opportunity to live in one of the prettiest waterfront cities in the South."

The magazine, an outgrowth of "This Old House" TV show featuring home restoration projects, asked thousands of neighborhood groups, real estate agents, residents and preservationists throughout the country for nominations. The Historic Beaufort Foundation submitted the Quadrant for consideration, said Evan Thompson, the foundation's executive director.

"This designation sort of validates what I think we know locally -- that there is opportunity in this neighborhood," Thompson said. "It's nice to have external recognition."

The article described Quadrant houses as "modest one- and two-story, shotgun-style homes, or 'hall-and-parlor cottages,' " that cost $100,000 to $150,000.

Thompson and other foundation representatives are working with volunteers and the neighborhood on revitalization efforts, which were boosted last year after city officials created a Northwest Quadrant Study Group.

Mayor Billy Keyserling said the article "shows how a small group can get the sun to shine on opportunity."

Located in a National Historic Landmark District, the neighborhood was settled by freed slaves during and after the Civil War. Its historic designation, proximity to downtown stores and the waterfront, and house prices make it a prime spot for homebuyers interested in historic preservation, Thompson said.

Contest winners are grouped by categories and location. Other Southern towns that made the cut include the Cornstalk District in Harriman, Tenn.; Solar Hill Historic District in Bristol, Va.; Union Springs, Ala.; Capitol View in Little Rock, Ark.; and Thornton Park in Orlando, Fla.

This Old House ranked the Quadrant among the best in the bargains, city life, cottages and bungalows, first-time buyers, fixer-uppers, gardening, history happened here, South, walkability and waterfront categories.

Northwest Quadrant Neighborhood Association president Dwayne Smalley said the magazine designation could help his organization reach some of its goals.

"One of our focuses as a neighborhood association is to figure out what we can do with the empty houses sitting on the market just waiting for someone to take notice," Smalley said. "I think once we start to fill in the neighborhood, that will attract other businesses to the area."

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