5 Amazing (and Affordable) Old House Cities

Mary Butler

You really don't have to pay a fortune to live in a beautiful old house. Maybe in San Francisco you do. But that's not the case in Pittsburgh, for example, where a middle-income person can purchase a 100-year-old, three-story brick house with six bedrooms, seven fireplaces and an oak staircase that takes you up to the third floor. Such a house was for sale in the city's North Point Breeze neighborhood as of Aug. 29, listed for $279,000.

Here's a sampling of some of the nation's most amazing (and affordable) old house cities:

  1. In the 1870s, wealthy people began arriving in Reading, PA, to build grand old homes that resemble Italian villas and British manors, and it wasn't long before the people who worked for the wealthy started building Queen Anne-style homes and tall, brick "Reading German" houses. A beautiful historic five-bedroom townhouse can be had for as little as $60,000--and a mansion for less than $600,000.
  2. With the "Best Main Street in the Midwest," according to the Chicago Tribune, Galena, IL not only has wonderfully preserved old homes in styles including neo-classical, federal, Greek revival, second empire, gothic revival, Queen Anne, and Italianate, it's a quick car ride to five different colleges, making it an affordable place to study or be an academic. You can have a beautiful home for $150,000.
  3. It might not be New York City, but Old Louisville, KY, has its own Central Park designed by the famed Frederick Law Olmstead, as well as a healthy number of old homes dating back to the late 1800s, including Queen Annes, second empires, and stick Victorians. While there are plenty of fixer-upper steals, you can also buy a beautifully remodeled old house for $275,000.
  4. While you may never be able to afford an old house in Austin, just 30 miles down the road in Georgetown, TX, you can pick upa little Craftsman bungalow for under $100,000. The city, located in Texas Hill Country, is also home to sweet boutiques, art galleries, and great restaurants.
  5. Hurricane Katrina did spare at least one great old neighborhood in New Orleans, LA and in fact, has given it new life. In the Lower Garden District, you can easily find the city's ubiquitous shot-gun style houses as well as many antebellum Greek revivals, which are generally two to three stories tall with double- or tripled-tiered porches. While the Greek revivals are somewhat cost prohibitive--around seven figures--you can have a double shot-gun for $200,000.

There are so many other great old house cities throughout the country. From Tacoma, WA, to Buffalo, NY, an old house enthusiast can still easily find an affordable home brimming with character and charm. And in this economy, if you look hard enough, you might even be able to score a deal in a big, expensive city, too.

Kevin Kirkland • Buying Here: North Point Breeze • Aug 29, 2009 • http://www.post-gazette.comhttp://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09241/993716-30.stm,
Keith Pandolfi • Best Old House Neighborhoods 2009: Editors' Picks • Dec 31, 1969 • http://www.thisoldhouse.comhttp://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20283021,00.html

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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