Trading Spaces

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

Looking for a house a few blocks from Palm Beach in sunny Florida?


Susannah Pushkin, whose grandparents were originally from Baywood, is hoping someone will agree to trade her a home in Galax in exchange for her 1,358-square-foot house in Lantana, Fl.

Pushkin is the owner of a two-story, 100-year-old farmhouse in the Baywood community of Grayson County, and is looking for something to do with the property. In order to begin working on the place, she needs a home back in Galax.

“For several years, following the death of my dad in 2002, I've been searching for a way to use our Baywood homeplace,” she told The Gazette. “I want to use the home to serve the community in a way that honors God and my ancestors.”

Pushkin's grandfather, John, raised three sons and two daughters on the farm with his wife, Alice. John was a traveling schoolteacher on horseback, and Alice was an artist.

“When they grew older and moved into town, my parents bought the farm and preserved it,” she said.

Pushkin's father was a Polish-American ophthalmologist and decorated WWII veteran of the U.S. Army. Her mother was an administrative nurse in Richmond, where the couple met.

Susannah grew up between Evanston, Ill., and Baywood — where she spent the summers on her grand parents farm.

She later became a Catholic lay chaplain, serving in prisons, hospitals and various communities.

Now, she is hoping to find people who are not only interested in trading her property, but also those with ideas for what she can do with the Baywood home.

“I promised my mother and father that I'd never sell the homeplace, and that I would pass it on to my son, a video game CEO in Los Angeles,” she said. “[Mother] dreamed it would become a wildlife sanctuary.”

Pushkin has tried to preserve the home as much as possible, and considered turning it into a Hospice House, but hasn't had the means to do so.

“I'm land rich and cash poor,” she said.

Pushkin also owns 121.5 acres in Elk Creek that she has tried to sell, but has had no luck. The land has been in and out of the family since the Revolutionary War, but has yet to fetch a fair price to enable her to restore the home in Baywood.

She also has been trying to sell her home in Florida, but hasn't had any luck in these tough economic times.

“Dad's [house] and my house in South Florida became a nightmare of high taxes and maintenance,” the 64-year-old said.

Pushkin said she connected with Father Brickner of St. Joseph's Church in Galax, who said his dream was indigent housing.

“I explored various ideas with local builders and architects, but the sums mentioned were staggering to me,” she said.

With no luck selling the property, Pushkin has offered it up for trade with a house in Galax — with a cellar.

“I've been tornadoed,” she said of the requirement to have a basement.

Her hopes are, if she returns to Galax, that she can continue to try and sell the Elk Creek property, and oversee a “good use” for the Baywood home.

The Florida property is located in the quiet Greynolds Highlands subdivision and has 1,100 square feet of living space.

The house has three bedrooms and one bath, and is set on one-quarter of an acre of land.

Built in 1950, the Florida house features a brick foundation — which has survived several hurricanes — vaulted ceilings, Mexican tile throughout, fresh paint, a new roof, a tropical charm and is an artist's paradise — all in an intracoastal community close to parks and the beach.

The original listing price was more than $400,000, but most recently was listed at $350,000.

“It's not going to sell... or rent,” Pushkin said of the tough times in the country. “I thought, maybe there could be a trade.”

Pushkin noted that all the taxes are current and the house is paid off. She has also spoken with an attorney about the trade and could have all the paperwork ready to complete quickly.

The trip to the home is roughly 13 hours from Galax, according to Pushkin.

Another idea — prior to learning of the one in Galax — was to open a free medical and dental clinic. Pushkin said she has already spoken with various doctors and dentists who would be willing to volunteer a week at a time during summers to help operate the clinic.

“At this time, I'm open to what the community would like to see there,” she said. “I'm looking to the community to provide input during these especially hard times in the world.”

Pushkin said she would be happy to provide any needed details regarding the trade, or accept suggestions for restoring the Baywood property.

“I want to work towards reaching the goal of having the beautiful Paisley/Pushkin Farm become of service,” she said.

• Anyone wanting to get more information or talk with Pushkin about the trade or ideas on what to do with the Baywood property can contact her at (229) 251-3943.