Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I thought I'd share one more picture of the outside of the house, before getting down to brass tacks about the house itself.  The main house was built in 1890 by a local industrialist.  At some time later, this porch was added -- it's similar to some other porches on the street, so it must have been all the rage at the time.  Also at later times, the dining room and sunrooms were added, along with the upstairs bathroom, then the present kitchen addition and blue room, along with the back stairs and the stairs to the attic.  The carriage house was built in 1920, according to the tax records.  The final addition was the mudroom in back, which features the only fully functional door.

From 2003 to February 11, 2009, it was used as a boarding house, effectively, for very low-income people.  The ministry in question has fallen on harder times in the recession, and has shrunk from five houses to two; three were subject to foreclosure, and this was one of them.  Very low-income renters (some actually paying no rent) are hard on a building, but the damage they do is largely superficial.  While there's a lot of dirt involved, the basic structure of this house seems to be just fine.  No leaks in the basement, a new roof (or at least, a new layer on the roof), and no broken windows.

So while I certainly have plenty of work ahead of me -- it could be worse.  It could be far worse.


  1. One thing you might want to check on is whether this house is part of a Historical Conservation District.

    If it is, there may be restrictions on how much, and what kind, of work can be done, particularly on the exterior. If, say, you wanted to demolish that beautiful old porch, you might not be allowed to.

    This advice comes from having a friend who bought an old, very run-down house in the historical district of Phoenix, AZ. His plan was to restore the house slowly, over several years, as money became available.

    After he bought the house, he began getting notices from the city: "Your house is a public eyesore. Either restore it IMMEDIATELY or have it demolished. Failure to comply will result in arrest."Well, he didn't have money to do that restoration, so he reluctantly applied for a demolition permit. (The very run-down house was actually one of three buildings on the property he bought; the other two were in better shape, so it wasn't as if he'd have been totally obliterating the neighborhood.)

    Once he applied for the demo permit, though, he got a notice from the city's Historical Preservation department, letting him know that he was NOT ALLOWED to demolish a historical property.

    Several years later, after having had to spend enough money on lawyers that he probably COULD have restored the house, he sold the property to someone else. (A couple of Phoenix city policemen, as it happens. One can envision the scene at the dinner table there: "You're under arrest!" "No, YOU'RE under arrest!" "No, YOU'R-R-R-R under arrest!")

  2. It's on the map of a historical conservation district (the old business center) but it's about a block and a half outside it.

    As to eyesores -- this is not even close to being the worst house in the neighborhood. I've got a long way to go before worrying about its being an eyesore. And so does the neighborhood.

    Good advice, though. There are lots and lots of ways reality can come up and bite you.

  3. Also -- good God almighty, why would I demolish that porch? It's one of the best features of the house if you ask me. It has hexagonal tiling, by the way.