Archive for the ‘Background’ Category

Our other houses, Part 2 (North Howe)

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

After I sold my apartment in the Churchill (and stayed briefly in a small loft in the Cobbler Square Apartments, purportedly an old Dr. Scholl’s shoe factory), I bought a place on North Howe the week before I met Don in September. It was not an old house per se, but it was in a neighborhood of old houses (and new McMansions) and it turned out to be old enough that most of its systems needed replacing.  (Big clue:  The air conditioner quit working during the inspection.  Turned out to be a slow Freon leak.  Decided it was easier to replace the Freon every 18 months or so than to replace the compressor, which was 2.5 stories off the ground.) Our townhouse was built in the 1970s and looked more like the older new house at 1811 North Howe than the McMansion next door in the Then and Now pictures linked above. This links to a pretty bad picture from the Cook County Assessor.

By Easter, our relationship was at the point that Don and his father painted the whole interior (except the one bedroom I painted before my 2nd date with Don — I obliterated the cute ducklings and faux sky all by myself — the rest of the house had been painted  ceiling white, and it irritated Don).  Over time, we gutted two of the bathrooms, replaced a flat roof and roof deck, had a water source run up to the roof, installed (and reinstalled after the roof and deck were replaced) a drip irrigation system for all the pots on the roof, considered replacing the a/c, built lots of storage, changed out the washer and dryer, and … Anyway, the place had a new look when we sold it in 2001, after we’d been married a year.

Share on Facebook

Our other houses, Part 1 (The Churchill)

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Although we’re living with Lisa’s parents, we used to be independent home owners when we lived in Chicago. Lisa’s first place (bought in early 1995) was a junior one bedroom in the Churchill, built in the 1920s.

I [Lisa] did nothing to it except ask the PO to install a desk instead of a breakfast bar in the kitchen he was remodelling. (I did get a quote to replace the windows, but I was in law school at the time so home improvement went by the wayside.)

Nonetheless, it was a nice introduction to Chicago’s old house stock. A vintage elevator building, with a fulltime doorman, it was across the street from the Ambassador East, home of the Pump Room and kitty-corner to the Ambassador West, built in 1920.   And, I could walk to school and work.

Incidentally, when I interviewed with my then-soon-to-be future employer of 13 years in the early spring, I stayed at the Ambassador East … and also when I came back in the late summer to find a place to live.  First experience with real bellhops — very much like the movies, he showed me the thermostat and the bathroom.  I don’t recall if I realized he wanted a tip or not.  I also had some very odd cab rides — including a marriage proposal.  Or maybe it was an illicit suggestion.  In any event, the cab driver already had several wives, so I wouldn’t have accepted.

The Ambassadors were built as mirror images, at nearly the same time by relatives, with a tunnel connecting them. The Ambassador East was featured in North by Northwest and Led Zeppelin destroyed a room there in the ’70s. The Ambassador West is now being converted into very expensive condos ($1.15M and up. I paid something around $65K when I bought mine in the Churchill.)  There were famous people who resided at the Churchill, too, but I can’t find reference to them in the Internet.  Also, Mrs. Churchill was related to (I think) Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  There’s a plaque on the wall, but Google doesn’t seem to know anything about it.

Share on Facebook

Nunc pro tunc? What’s that mean?

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

When we started thinking about clever house blog names, we found all the good ones had been taken. (House in Progress, The Devil Queen, etc.) And, since we don’t know just what kind of house we’re going to end up with, it’s a bit hard to make a play on words related to the style or the address. So, since I’m a lawyer, I suggested Nunc Pro Tunc, and since Don is a nice husband, he claimed to like the name. Of course, the properly-spelled web site belongs to some real estate outfit in Pennsylvania, but what’s a little misspelling among friends?

In any event, nunc pro tunc is lawyer Latin for now as then. Lawyers generally use it when trying to put things back the way they should be: fixing a clerical error that everyone involved recognizes is a classic example. (I believe nunc is from the same root word as renunciation.) And, it reflects our general attitude toward houses. We like to put an old house back the way it should be, while recognizing that the original owners would, for example, prefer indoor plumbingAshland 2nd bath over outhouses if available. We like to use salvaged and reproduction material, and we like to try to avoid jarring missteps.

We’ll probably end up with a Victorian or an Arts and Crafts, although we are occasionally tempted by a mid-century modern or a Faye Jones.  Our last two houses were Victorian (Italianate and Eastlake/Stick), so we understand the genre pretty well.

Share on Facebook

Once upon a time …

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

a man and a woman were told by mutual friends they were perfect for each other, they fell in love, and got married just after the Millennium. (Thanks to the Chicago Cubs.) They have spent most of this century renovating slightly tired to exhausted houses.  They also are raising a daughter, who collects scraps of wood and screws to help Daddy.  This is their story.

Share on Facebook