Placing Our New Old House
October 18, 2011 § 1 Comment
We have finally settled into our new old house and have begun to think about it as a place of archaeology (rather than simply a receptacle for our stuff).
Fortunately, my wife visited the previous owners of the house in South Dakota this past week and was able to glean some interesting documentation of the house’s history including a copy of the North Dakota Cultural Resource Survey form (NDCRS). The house is listed as a contributing property to the Near South Side Historic District here in Grand Forks.
The house itself is in the Gabled Front style typical of many homes dating to the last decades of the 19th and first decades of the 20th century in town. According to the NDCRS form the house dates to 1882 with an addition just after the turn of the century. If this early date is right, it is likely the first house south of 8th Av. on Reeves Dr. and among the earliest homes in town. (It would date to a mere 2 years after the railroad came through town and amidst the “Dakota Boom of 1882″). My feeling is that this date is rather early for this house. Various decorations inside the house and on the front facade of the house when it was purchased by its previous owners preserve a data of 1889 which would perhaps be more keeping with construction in the area. Whatever the case, the house is almost certainly late 19th century in date and is likely one of the first houses built south of 8th Av. on Reeves.
The location of the house is significant because south of 8th Avenue, Reeves Dr. takes a pronounced jog to the west separating the monumental houses of the local elite set on large lots from the more ordinary homes. We can look out of our front window and see the houses of the wealthy, influential, and powerful, but we’ll never confuse our address with theirs.
The house itself appears to have had a significant addition around the turn of the century, and this photograph, dating perhaps to around 1900, shows a one story addition in the back of the house. In other homes of this date, this addition typically accommodates a larger kitchen. In our home, the kitchen remains part of the original house and the original purpose of the addition (storage?) remains unclear. At some later date, a second story was put on the addition. It was probably a sleeping porch originally, but it now has glass-paned windows and is connected to the radiator system of the house.
This is what our house looks like today clad in new siding and with a more elaborate garden.