If you love historic homes and wasting time on the internet, may I present to you: oldhouses.com.
It’s a real estate website that curates listings from across the country.
You can search by state, by price, by era and by old home features like dumbwaiters and carriage houses. Those search features translate into hours of browsing.
Old Houses is run by unabashed old home lover Joe Copley, who runs the website out of his home here in Charlotte.
“Yes, in Charlotte. Of all places, right?” Copley said to me recently.
He gets it. Of all the cities for an old home lover, Copley’s in bulldozer heaven.
Copley understands why old homes have been plowed over in Charlotte: They’re a lot of work. It can be easier to start from scratch.
But he fears cities are becoming playgrounds of the wealthy, devoid of houses that tell a place’s story.
Like many places, the historic houses here are often “an accident of shifting wealth,” Copley said. “Elizabeth and Dilworth became historic when middle-class and wealthier families left the city for developing south Charlotte. The pendulum swung back. And it will swing back again. It’s paradoxical; old houses and buildings are valuable today because for a long time no one wanted them.”
Copley said it takes two kinds of people to preserve a city’s historic housing stock.
The first type are “people who are immune to the most efficient use of capital or land,” Copley said, which is a polite way of saying eccentrics with DGAF old money. Alas, “We just don’t have many of them in Charlotte.”
The second type is young people who want a project and are priced out.
The problem right now is that young people want to live in the urban core, Copley said, but he expects that to change, just as it’s always swung back and forth.
“At some point people will think, look, we can get an old house out in this field, 3,000 square feet for $120,000, and fix it up for ourselves.”
On Copley’s website, the old houses near Charlotte ripe for a hungry couple’s fixer-upper project aren’t in a literal field; they’re in Salisbury.
Take a look here at some of the regional offerings. Pick your price point and your era, as North Carolina homes up for grabs include Neoclassical, Federal, Queen Anne Victorian, Colonial, Greek Revival and Italianite.