As the pro tennis world was converging on Paris for this year’s later-than-usual French Open, a legend of the sport was here in Richmond to seal the deal on the highest-priced home sale in the region last month.
Billie Jean King was in town two weeks ago to sign off on the $2 million sale of 301 Lock Lane, the former Windsor Farms home of her friends Barbara and John (“Jack”) Clark, who had housed King there 50 years earlier when she was competing in the inaugural Virginia Slims Invitational at The Westwood Club.
The couple remained friends with King thereafter, so much so that she was made the executor of Barbara’s estate, said listing agent Laura Peery with The Steele Group | Sotheby’s International Realty. Jack, a local businessman, died in 2013.
Peery said Barbara, who is moving to an assisted living facility, had been involved in promoting the 1970 Philip Morris-supported tournament and offered their home as lodging for two of the players. They turned out to be King, who went on to win the singles tournament, and her doubles partner, Rosemary (“Rosie”) Casals, who won the doubles event with King.
“They became fast friends and began a lifelong friendship,” Peery said, adding that King through the years would return to the house to stay with the Clarks when she was in Richmond.
“They’ve traveled together, and she’s the power of attorney for Barbara and was very much involved in me getting this whole process to fruition,” Peery said of King.
King signed the paperwork that closed the sale on Sept. 25, a half century after she first stayed in the house and nearly 50 years to the day of the formation of the Virginia Slims circuit, when she and eight other players, known as the “Original 9,” signed $1 contracts that later led to the launch of the Women’s Tennis Association.
In videos that Peery has shared on social media, King said it was sad to sell the house that contained so many memories, though she noted that the family who bought it will be making new ones.
“It’s sad, but the home looks beautiful,” King says in one of the clips. “I know the next family that’s going to be here, they have lots of children, and they have eight bedrooms now. We had a good time here. We had a great time.”
City property records show the house was bought through a trust for Lindsey C. Arrington, who was represented in the purchase by Catie Wilton with Shaheen, Ruth, Martin & Fonville Real Estate. Wilton said her clients had no comment.
Totaling eight bedrooms with six bathrooms and two half-baths, the 6,200-square-foot colonial was built in 1937 and designed by Louis Ballou, a noted Richmond architect. The 2½-story house totals a dozen rooms over four floors of living space, including a recently renovated au pair suite.
A brick patio overlooks Charles Gillette-designed gardens, and the ¾-acre property includes an oval-shaped pool.
Peery said the Clarks entertained at the house often and hosted a number of notable guests, King the most famous among them. Others included jazz musicians who would jam with Jack in the so-called “band room.” Jack also was instrumental in starting the first Richmond Jazz Festival, according to his obituary.
Jack retired in 1996 as president of John H. Frischkorn Inc., a local wholesale pipe supplier founded by his grandfather that in 2005 merged with Ferguson Enterprises. The couple purchased the home in 1978 for $255,000, property records show.
The latest city assessment valued the Lock Lane property at $1.63 million. Peery listed the house in March with an asking price of $2.49 million before reducing it three times through mid-August, when it went under contract the day after being priced at $2.15 million. Online real estate data shows the house was under contract once before that and was later relisted.
The house’s original listing on March 19 coincided with the start of the pandemic-induced national shutdown, which Peery said contributed to its turnaround.
“We listed it right when things were shutting down. That was mostly why it took a while,” she said. “The bones of the property are phenomenal. It’s not a turnkey property like some buyers want these days, but in terms of the classic style and the bones, it’s just supreme.”
As for King, in another video clip recorded at the house, she said she’s happy to be leaving the house to its new owners.
“The home is absolutely immaculate and beautiful and ready for a family to move in,” King said, standing at the house alongside Peery and builder-designer Blair Dobbins, who is part of Peery’s real estate team. “It’s our last day here. It’s difficult, but I know it’s in good hands.”
Four other seven-figure deals rounded out the top five area home sales for September, according to the Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing Service: (Note: this list has been updated with the addition of a condo sale that was handled by a non-MLS user.)
• 514 Libbie Ave. Unit U7, Richmond (condo) – $1.82 million. Listing agent: Page George, Maison Real Estate; buyer’s agent: non-MLS user.
• 104 Tonbridge Road, Windsor Farms, Richmond – $1.8 million. Listing agent: Richard Bower, Joyner Fine Properties; buyer’s agent: Philip Innes, Re/Max Commonwealth.
• 901 S. Gaskins Road, Henrico – $1.755 million. Listing agent: Kim Gentil, The Gentil Co.; buyer’s agent: Philip Innes, Re/Max.
• 13007 River Road, Goochland – $1.75 million. Listing agent: Richard Bower, Joyner; buyer’s agent: Drew Cheely, Joyner.
• 4301 Oxford Road, Windsor Farms, Richmond – $1.72 million. Listing agent: Bo Steele, The Steele Group; buyer’s agent: Lisa Harrison, Joyner.