More old pictures of my house!

Posted by Steve on Sun, 12/28/2008 - 11:07pm
This summer, as I was standing on the sidewalk talking with a neighbor, a nicely dressed couple, Dorothy and Alec, stopped their car and were staring at my next door neighbor's house. He rolled down his window and said, "that was my grandparents' house until the 1930s".

He had spent a lot of time in the house when he was a little kid in the '30s. Betsy took them on a tour of her place, much of which is still original, and you could tell he was having flashback moments as he recalled the things he used to do in the house and what the neighborhood used to look like. He told several cool stories about what it was like here during WW2, the Liberty ships jamming the harbor waiting to be loaded at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the trenchcoated G men on Second Avenue looking for people taking photographs of the troop deployments, etc.

They sent Betsy a photo of my house taken in 1936.

I have an old tax photo of my house from the 1940s but this one is so much better. Was that a previous owner on the steps? That's obviously the owner's Model A(?) parked in the driveway. Classy!

Last month, Dorothy and Alec sent Betsy another photo, this one of our two houses shot in 1916, only a few years after they were built. Man, they look like very different places. According to a notation on the photograph, the little girl on the steps is Alec's cousin, who is 91 years old today.

My house is the one on the left, with the small tree in front of it. I found my original CO which shows 1935 as the year that grassy mound of a front "yard" was removed and the garage was built.

I guess that window and door canopies must have been all the rage at the time. Then again, these houses get blasted by southern exposure and the photo predates residential air conditioning by several decades so it makes sense.

Check out how big that little tree got from 1916 to 1936! I don't understand why the POs built a garage and didn't remove it but it explains why he's parked in the driveway.

Anyway, for the sake of comparison, here's a shot of the front of the house on inspection day, 1999. Sometime in the intervening years, a PO removed that brick balustrade on top of the garage and replaced those great leaded glass garage doors with a cheap vinyl piece of junk that was cracking from the UV. Also gone were the beveled glass oak entry doors.

Here's a shot of Brooklyn Row House today. Betsy's and my lower concrete stairs were replaced in 2005 due to severe cracking. I also did a garage rehab because I hated the look of the old one. It's maybe a little too slick and modern for the house now but I got carried away in my shop. Give it another 40 years and it'll look fine.

I wonder if fifty or sixty years from now my house will join some future home owner's historical archive?