Building a new, old neighborhood 

Sonoma property a labor of love for local developer

Steve Ledson’s known for a lot of things up in Sonoma, including his vast gothic winery, his philanthropy and his hotel. Somewhere on that list is his penchant for residential building in the style of yesteryear.

The house at 690 Charles Van Damme Way is one of those homes. The house is one of 52 half-acre lots on a historic parcel Ledson has been working on, one at a time, for the past 12 years, Morgan Lane Real Estate agent Donna Price said. Ledson has owned the property since 1989, when he purchased it from the Armstrongs.

"It was owned by the Armstrong family, and it’s called the Armstrong Estates. And before that, it was owned by Charles Van Damme, who was a lumberman," Price said. "The concept behind the development … was to build a community of homes that were reminiscent of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and build them close to town and create a neighborhood that looked like it had been built over a long period of time."

The houses have had their share of controversy among local observers, with opinions ranging from the positive for their antique styling to negative to their large size. One newspaper columnist called the development the "Magic Kingdom," and noted that Ledson — a Sonoma man with long local roots — lives in the only historic home in the development.

Whatever the opinion, the homes do have extensive detailing. The house has cherry wood floors, custom doors with beveled, leaded glass, crown moldings, granite counters and two fireplaces. It also has built-in cabinetry and a large wrap-around porch. It was completed and put on the market in 2005, according to its Web site. http://www.690charlesvandammeway.com.

Where: Sonoma

Asking price: $2.1 million

Property tax: $27,300*

What: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2,725 square feet

Amenities: Formal parlor, wrap-around porch, two fireplaces, surround sound, flat-screen TV

Agent: Donna Price, Morgan Lane Real Estate, (707) 322-5178, http://www.690charlesvandammeway.com

*Estimate based on 1.3% of asking price

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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