By Sumalee Eaton

This Sanford-Centric article was originally published in the August 2015 issue of The Current

A few weeks ago, Jeremy and I attended the Hip and Historic lecture by Scott Sidler at the Historic Trust meeting. There was a complete downpour that night, with thunderclaps so strong they shook the floor of the Welcome Center under our feet. The drama was real, guys.

The storm gave the presentation a certain gravity, if not seriousness. Scott won me over right away. “I don’t like new houses,” he opened. “I don’t get them, they don’t make sense to me. I just don’t like them.”

A man after my own heart. He began introducing the concept of millennials as preservationists, asking if anyone knew the birth years of the millennial generation.

A consummate know-it-all, my hand shot up. “Approximately 1980 to 2000.”

Without a word, Scott flipped to the next slide. Eerily, it stated exactly what I had just blurted out. Thunder cracked above our heads just as I threw my fists in the air triumphantly. Take that!

But seriously, I love generational theory. Scott went on to explore the millennial relationship with historic preservation, which is apparently pretty swell. As someone who has lived in old houses for the majority of my life, I found myself relating to every word of the presentation. Yes, we should give a shit about respecting the history of buildings. No, new is not necessarily better. Yes, I am prepared to stand up and declare myself a preservationist, and by golly, I will do my best to spread the gospel of historic preservation and propagate a world of young people who know what a gable is and think the more trim colors on a painted lady, the better.

Scott himself emitted a sort of glow, a spark of passion for the same things I and many of my millennial cohorts care so deeply about. I felt as if he was speaking directly to me, instructing me to go forth and restore, the messiah of historic preservation.

Needless to say, it was sort of a religious experience. In these subsequent weeks, I keep looking around my rental bungalow, making a mental list of projects I wish I could accomplish, wishing I owned my own little historic Sanford house.

Historic District Sign Sanford FL

And I’m not the only person perking up and looking around. I was surprised (but very happy) to see that Orlando Weekly published a photo gallery two months ago showcasing nine historic houses in Sanford for under $200k, almost like they are encouraging people to buy here. I’m in no way prepared to purchase a house, but now that people are beginning to notice what a gem historic Sanford really is…I kinda feel like I should hurry!

I acknowledge that historic homeownership will be no cakewalk. Conventional wisdom teaches that restoring a historic home might actually ruin my life, “conventional wisdom” meaning “The Money Pit”. I thought that to gain a little perspective on the possibilities, I’d ask two people who took alternative routes to achieve their historic Sanford dream homes, Nelson Beverly and Charlie Hull. Nelson, a lifelong Sanford native, and his wife Christina purchased a charming mid-century block house in the Sanford Heights neighborhood (which I affectionately call “Uptown”), which fits their needs and style while also being surrounded by older, beautiful wood-frame homes. Charlie and Kathy Hull took a different approach entirely by purchasing land in the Sanford Historic District and building a custom home that looks just like a historic house. (Clever!)

Nelson and Christina Beverly's Sanford home

Nelson and Christina Beverly’s Sanford home

How long have you lived in the Sanford Historic District and what influenced your decision to live here?

Nelson: We just celebrated our nine year anniversary living in our home, which is in the Sanford Heights neighborhood. This area still has a downtown feel, an extension of the look and feel of the official residential historic district with century old homes, mature trees, and parks but just not officially part of the district. Our house itself was the biggest draw to the neighborhood along with views of century old homes, mature trees, an alley, local parks, and close proximity to downtown Sanford.     

Charlie and Kathy Hull's Sanford home

Charlie and Kathy Hull’s Sanford home

Charlie: We have lived in Sanford since July 2008. We both grew up in small towns and after living in Miami for most of our adult lives we wanted to find another home with a small town feel.

We purchased land in Punta Gorda’s historic district but ultimately chose Sanford after several visits to favorite cousins who live in Sanford’s historic district. We liked the tree lined streets, and front porches, and we like the friendly people.

Tell me about your current home.

Nelson: It was built in 1967 and is a one story concrete block home with a two car carport and an attached workshop (aka the man cave). The livable area is about 1,400 square feet. It’s just the right size for us and we have furnished it with period specific furniture and art. Our favorite part of living in it is its small size, corner lot, and closeness to everything.

Charlie: We call it the Key West style, with upper and lower front and back porches with a high pitch metal roof. There are several of them in the Historic District. The building process lasted about 8 months and we had no delays or issues, except one that I remember. In a nut shell, when building a custom house hire finish carpenters that are used to working on custom houses, not suburban cookie cutter houses. .

What has been the biggest challenge of owning a home in this area?

Nelson: Termites. Even though our home is concrete block, we still have a lot of wood in other areas including the roof. Living next door to century old wooden homes means our home needs to be fumigated every now and then. It’s not a big deal, just part of the learning process of owning a home.

Charlie: There have been no real challenges. Maybe because we have a new home that looks like an old home.

What are the top benefits of owning a home in this area?

Nelson: We like living in a diverse city where we can ride our bikes pretty much anywhere and see friends and neighbors along the way. The city services are a nice asset.  

Charlie: You live in a beautiful walk-able neighborhood, where you make friends with some and say hello to all.

What advice would you give to a young first time home buyer who is shopping in this area?

Nelson: If you are going to get a home in the historic district, learn what that means. It’s like having an HOA but without the monthly fee. When one lives in the historic district they have to get approval by a city board for most any modification or repair to their home. This process exists for a positive purpose which is to maintain the heritage of the area and keep the homes alive and well for generations to come.  

Charlie: Make sure you know what Schedule S is all about.

Who do you consider the ideal candidate for home ownership in the district?

Nelson: Everyone. That’s the beauty of downtown living in Sanford, there are many different living options: 4,000+ sq. ft. homes, bungalows, 1/1 garage apartments, you name it, it’s here.  

Charlie: All ages of people willing to maintain their homes. An ideal candidate would be someone interested in supporting and improving Sanford.

Any takers?

Homes for Sale in and around the historic district of Sanford

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