The elderly lady across the street from me finally moved in with her daughter. There’s a huge estate sale this week, and the house is for sale (for sale by owner–the kids are giving that a try!). As I walked through the house, I thought it was almost a shrine to another era of Brookside living: the linen tablecloths, the china, the gloves and cloth napkins..the heavy furniture and lace curtains, tiny floral wallpaper and a toast rack. I think most newlyweds don’t even register for fine china and when I wear gloves–it’s to keep my hands warm, not to accessorize an outfit.
The house itself doesn’t look like it’s been updated since it was built-in the 1920s. Brookside homes are known for their charming architectural details but this house…not even a dishwasher in the kitchen! The crown molding along the ceilings… the glass doorknobs and original corner cabinets in the breakfast nook..cove ceilings…the unpainted wood trim..arched doorways and curving fireplace…. and oh the art deco bath! Those black and yellow tiles still seem as shiny as the day they were installed decades ago! Near the back door you find the ice door for the ice block, and in the basement, the pine wood paneling and bar for the ‘rec room’. If the walls could talk…
What will probably happen is this: a rehabber will snatch up the house, update the interior and strip it of all the fine detailing. Granite counters, beige tile, white-painted woodwork, knocked out walls, more beige tile and poof! it looks like the inside of every other newly built home in Suburbia USA. I don’t fault buyers for wanting an updated, move in ready home–that’s what most of my buyers want. But there is a way to freshen up while still retaining some of the original character of a home. To rip out that deco tile bath seems like such a waste! At least the Tudor exterior will remain.
I’m looking forward to meeting the new neighbors, whenever they come along. Maybe it will be another family, to replace the one that’s grown and gone. But one thing is for sure: the more sophisticated and upscale lifestyle of those original folks is gone for good. Let’s hope the charm of the craftsmen remains.