Bottom: Circa 1957
This is the last house I lived in with my parents, before moving away after college. As you can see, they made a number of improvements to the house after they purchased it. The top photo was taken before they bought the house in 1952. It was not in excellent condition, and their purchase price was $12,500. At that time, no one in our family knew who the architect was and it was never even considered, I suppose.
Several years ago, an old high school friend of mine sent me a clipping from the Sunday paper, of an article noting the homes in that area of town, which had been named Luna Park after an old amusement park that had burned about 82 years ago. The houses there were all built between 1900 and 1930. Ours was built in 1905, and is believed to be the work of John Norman, the first black architect to register with the American Institute of Architects. The article said that the area was a good prospect for the National Historic Register, if the residents wanted to pursue it.
My parents left that home in the 1970's and moved away for several years. Had that house been for sale at that time, I have no doubt they would have bought it again. Everytime the house is for sale, I check the currect price and condition. I was very sad to hear last year that the home has been heavily damaged by burst water pipes, and the floors (beautiful hardwoods) would all need to be replaced or refinished. It is a shame that was allowed to happen. The previous owners moved away while the house was up for sale, and it remained unheated through the winter. That was a big mistake! The house had previously sold to an attorney for $80 thousand something, and the last time I checked it was on the market for much, much less, due to the damaged floors.
This was a great house. It was not centrally air-conditioned, but it was nearly always cool in summer and warm in winter, given that the walls were 12" thick. It has a full basement, which during the time we lived there, never had a leak. Originally, the house had only one bathroom, but my dad installed a shower and toilet in the basement which was a great convenience for him. We also had a garage at the rear of the house, which was not common for that neighborhood, and a pretty iron fence around the front yard.
The people who owned the home before we bought it were educators, who travelled a great deal. They built a concrete gold-fish pond in the backyard and it had a central fountain. They kept koi in the pond and grew water lilies. They had also planted a vine they had bought in Japan. I don't know if it was legal to bring that into the country back then or not. It grew up a trellis on the back porch.
The good memories I have of that house are neverending. When we moved there, I was 12. When I left, I was 22. I spent what were probably my most formative years there. It pains me no end to see what has happened to it. Sometimes I wish I could buy it and restore it to the former glory. But that would be futile, and I wouldn't want to live there anymore. This neighborhood is going the way of many older areas in every city in this country. A lot of the good people who lived there died off or went to nursing homes. The houses are beginning to be run-down and unkempt, and the current residents don't seem to care if they paint or cut the grass or pick-up trash on the street. I think it is a darned shame that this is allowed to happen, but I don't know what any of us can do about it.
Sorry about the long post. I could write reams about this house!