Sunday, June 3, 2007

Voyeuristic thrills at $20 a pop

The gods smiled on PLG yesterday: with a forecast of three days of rain set to begin around midday, the weather stayed dry (if overcast) until well after three, allowing most people to get through this year's house tour sans raingear. (It's a good thing, too: I would not have wanted to have been one of the homeowners who opened up their abode only to fret about mud being tracked across my meticulously maintained floors.) PPLG dragged along Mrs. PPLG, his parents, and his grandmother, and mom's frequent pronouncements of "fabulous" were pretty much on the mark. (The troupe did not make it down to the Parkside and Clarkson houses, so any reports are much appreciated.)

Several people volunteered for the job of unofficial PPLG photographer; one of those backed out (although not, unfortunately, until two hours after the tour had started, which didn't do a whole lot of good) but hopefully we'll get some electronic files soon...and, as always, the inimitable Bob Marvin will have B&W shots we should be able to post in the next several days. In the meantime, here are some of our personal highlights...

The ultra-modern 176 Lincoln Road and the lovingly restored (and recreated) 72 Midwood Street provided a very stark contrast in what direction you can go in with a house that was born with an abundance of hand-carved wood detail. 176 was more or less gutted thirty or so years ago; now the house features an open, lofty feel that wouldn't be out of place in, say, On Prospect Park. Our favorite feature: the master bathroom, with a deliciously indulgent tub. It's filled from a water spout in the ceiling. 72 Midwood, on the other hand, has been being worked on for thirty years, and it's as true to its era as is possible, from the rococo Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper (maybe it's our baseball loyalties speaking here, but it looked like the company's Fenway line; the William Morris "Vine" line was also in full effect), antique furnishings, and Victorian wall hangings. Without seeing the interior, there's no real way to do the house justice; suffice to say that the tour booklet write up included the following words: gesso, lincrusta, etagere, tournaphone, anaglypta dado gesso (a sculpture plaster) lincrusta (plastic) etagere, and tournaphone.

One of our favorite stops was 210 Midwood: it was the first time we'd seen one of the neighborhoods English basements truly converted into another fully functioning livable floor. Remarkably, on a day that was overcast, the space didn't feel either dark or artificially lit, an effect which we assume was achieved by the copious (and smallish) overhead lights installed throughout the exposed wood beams. The other intriguing alteration was the kitchen/dining room swap at 166 Rutland, which originally featured a traditional grand dining room leading to a half-width kitchen built into an original extension. This won't work in every house -- the entrance to the kitchen at 166 is in line with the walk-throughs that connect the two front parlors with the original dining room -- but for those that can do it (and have the time and money), it seemed like an ingenuous way to address the fact that today's inhabitants are will likely spend more time in the kitchen and less time seated around a formal table. 166 Rutland also had our favorite garden, a Zen-ish, pebbled affair.

As always, other reports/impressions/digressions are welcome. And hopefully we'll have some pictures up soon.


Tom G said...

Well you really missed out on a treasure at 28 Clarkson. That house was truly a gem. Gorgeous, huge four story house with tasteful English garden backyard. Anyone that shunted this block really missed out. I was so excited a house that far down was on the tour, to enable people to see more of the neighborhood.

Bob Marvin said...

Inimitable, eh? Thank you (I think). That's quite something to live up to.

Anyway, my negatives are washing now and I'll scan them after they dry. I'll either send the files to SOPPLG or put them on the web myself and provide a link (See--even us film dinosaurs can provide digital files-although my REAL prints are ALWAYS decidedly analog).

Bob Marvin said...

I haven't been inside of 28 Clarkson since it was last on tour MANY years ago and I had forgotten that these 4-story houses are virtually identical to the 1898 4-stories on Midwood I which are among my favorite houses in the neighborhood. They're obviously done by the same builder.