Sunday, June 8, 2008

Local color

This weekend is the big festival weekend for my old neighborhood, Rust Belt Historic District. Weirdly, I don't think I've blogged about it, even though I lived in the midst of it three years in a row and have gone back for festival every year since.

Anyway, I love festival weekend. There are home tours of the Victorian and Arts and Crafts homes of the neighborhood; fantastic street fair food at both the official vendors and the many unofficial church and individual barbecues around the neighborhood (and some of those guys have the most enormous semi-portable smoker-barbecue set-ups you've ever seen); and a crafts fair that seems to be getting disappointingly smaller every year but always features a booth with gorgeous fabric purses to which I'm utterly addicted (I now own three of the same small but functional size: one in various shades of eye-popping green polka dots, one with an autumnal pattern of nearly-abstract flowers with a bubblegum pink lining, and now one with a black/gray/neon orange/electric blue striped pattern and an electric blue lining).

There's also a parade, which I missed this year, that's the trippiest, most homemade, bizarro parade you've ever seen. One the "decorated" cars that's in the parade every year is this doozy (picture from last year):

Click on the picture to "embiggen" it and get a closer look at the bizarre doll heads glued all over the thing. We saw it at a gas station on the way to the festival this year and the doll heads have multiplied.

The home tours are a little less bizarre (though one house one year had a basement room dedicated to the guy's Star Wars toy collection) and tend to be all about the owners' loving refurbishment of their old homes, either to restore original characteristics or to adapt it to modern living. Some of the home owners take Victorian or Arts and Crafts "authenticity" a little too far and their homes look like museums. I don't like Victorian style myself, so the Victoriana-obsessed homes don't do it for me, but even the shrine-like Arts and Crafts ones are a little sterile to me, and I *like* that style. Who wants to live in a museum? But Bullock and I like home tours for getting design ideas or just oohing and ahing over the exquisite details of original woodwork or molding or what have you. And this year we saw the Most. Awesome. House. Ever. It was a 3500 square foot 1912 Arts and Crafts style stucco house with an English country/Tudor-ish exterior, and it had been beautifully and expensively re-done in all sorts of good ways without messing up its original details.

Here's the outside (the tile roof is original):

There was some painted woodwork inside, but only the door jambs on the second floor. Everything else looked like the oak it was made of, including the center hall staircase, the window seats throughout the house, and the door jambs and other oak on the first floor. And the improvements and additions they did were to die for -- a Florida room with a heated tile floor, and a wall removed between the den and the formal living room to make one great room, plus bumped-out "green house" windows in the kitchen and the "studio," which used to be an attached garage.

Here's the Florida room, which was the owner's addition in place of a side porch, I think (note wet bar in the far right corner):

And *oh* that kitchen! The guy who currently owns it is the head designer of a famous kitchen-ware company -- the kind that serious foodies buy from -- and his kitchen was full of professional and industrial quality stuff. It was also a *helluva* lot bigger than the original kitchen, the walls between old cold porches (for the iceman) and breakfast nooks having been removed, and more heated tile floors put in in parts of it (not the parts showing in the picture).

Here's one shot of the fabulous kitchen:

Add 5 bedrooms, all of decent size (unlike the older Victorians), plus two full baths -- one of the first floor and one still with the original pedestal sink and gigantic tub, as well as original subway tile (and an impressive size, too) -- and the most gorgeously landscaped, private, fenced-in 1/3 acre backyard, complete with an amazing outdoor kitchen, herb and vegetable garden (cleverly hidden from the more decorative parts of the garden and yard), and intimate nooks and crannies, and this house is the most fabulous thing I've ever seen, especially in Rust Belt.

Here are the bathroom with the original fixtures, one part of the park-like backyard (they must have hired a professional landscaper), and the outdoor kitchen (the table was made from re-claimed floor boards from a warehouse, with legs made of re-claimed porch columns!):

And get this: it's for sale. And since this is Rust Belt, it's under $300,000. I kid you not.

I heart the Historic District Festival. I heart Rust Belt.


Anonymous said...

OMG! I want it! I love the bathroom! Of course, 3500 feet for two people and three cats would be a bit much, but still!

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Sigh. I want that house.

Thoroughly Educated said...

*drools all over your blog*

We have lots of Arts & Crafts goodness here, but you're right, a really creatively updated interior is way better than a museum-style restoration. And I love that bathroom! I've always wanted a tub like that.

medieval woman said...

Oh, no shit?? Less than 300,000? We could afford that!@*% Aaaaaargh!

I luv the kitchen...

The Pastry Pirate said...

less than $300,000??? that would buy you a shack with optional plumbing here in the scenic rockies.

so... seen any "help wanted" signs outside local rust belt bakeries?

Sisyphus said...


heu mihi said...

AND there are gargoyles!

Anonymous said...

Does that car's license plate read "THAT CAR"?

I also wonder if it made the long drive from Berkeley:

How Berkeley Can You Be

Dr. Virago said...

Heu Mihi -- I think the gargoyles would go with the current owner, since they're simply perched on the eaves' corners. (Btw, the house tour ticket lady kept calling them "goigles" or something else strange.)

Kid Long Island -- Welcome. Yeah, it does like like "THAT CAR" but I can't remember for sure. It's our state's plate, but perhaps it makes the long drive *to* Berkeley as well.

Tommy said...

Unbelievable. That house would be 1.5 M, easy, here in Portland.