Saturday, October 27, 2007

the magoffin home

Today I really wanted to do something different and check out some of the touristy things around town I've always wanted to do. I've been trying to coordinate going to the Magoffin home with my wife for the past few months and today we finally went down and checked it out. I'm always a sucker for an old house and this was no exception. The Magoffins are commonly regarded as the first family of present day El Paso. They are largely responsible for putting this dusty town on the map, bringing the railroad and the ecomonic boom that followed in the 1880s. I tried to get some pics, although it's kind of hard to see the actual home with all the trees. I borrowed the 2nd one from the TX state parks website, since I failed to get a better detail shot of the exterior. Built in 1875, it it a prime example of territorial victorian architecture. I would have loved to get some interior shots, but no flash allowed. Take my word, though, if you're ever in town and have an inkling for old houses, you got to check this out!

For those interested, you can read more about it here.

We don't really go over to the magoffin historic district often as it's kind far from sunset heights, but I love the architecture in that neighborhood. Sunset heights is pretty old, but Magoffin is even older. Meaning, there are a lot more examples of victorian homes there. I'm not one to anger a hungry pregnant woman, but I did manage to get a pic of the house across the street.. A bit weathered, but still an amazing house!

Friday, October 26, 2007

the nursery (aka the tv room)

Our friend Sarah alluded to "the nursery" a while back. The temperature has started to drop and I'm beginning to focus on my plans for this room. It was probably a freak cold front we had a few days ago, but it got me thinking I need to start knocking out a little at a time here. Time is something I don't have much of before our bundle of joy comes home so I gotta get started. Here's the plan. Strip all the paint and refinish all the wood detail. We plan to paint the walls something a little more interesting (color still undecided). Going by my other refinishing projects this could go slow as hell or relatively smoothly. I'm hoping for the latter.

You'll notice the tv happens to be situated in this room. This has been designated the tv room since we moved in, but we always had plans to make this the bedroom of our first child. The tv will eventually be relocated across the hall to the sleeping porch (we use it as the office). You can see a bit of it in the 2nd pic.. Now to the question of, should I refinish this room?

The upstairs bedrooms were originally painted. You can see the straw-yellow color in the bottom pic, so I was concerned maybe I should leave it as is. The new paint matches pretty closely to the original. That thought lasted about two seconds after I uncovered what the wood looks like. I've heard that wood that was destined to be painted wasn't as a high a quality as that which was stained. I was worried about knotty wood and the like, but judging by the little bit I've uncovered, it should look great. :) The master bedroom had previously been refinished (albeit not very well), but well enough to want me to continue the look throughout the upstairs. I don't have the heart to cover it up again.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Two Republics Life building

I first discovered the original owner of this house to be Joseph H. McBroom a few months ago and have since been wondering about who he and his family were and what their life was like 93 years ago. I know if I stroll a few blocks to the downtown library I'd surely uncover tons of info about Mr. McBroom (hopefully). That hasn't happened yet. That's on my to-do list. But I did find a few little tidbits in the 1927 city directory. One, the McBrooms were still living in this house in 1927 (13 years after it was built). Two, Mr. McBroom was an attorney (I already knew that) and his offices were in the Two Republics Life building downtown (Didn't know that).

After doing some websearches on this building, I found somebody that sells vintage postcards and lo and behold, I finally get to see where this man worked. It's a beautiful victorian era building. Unfortunately, it's no longer standing. In it's place is a forgettable 60's era hotel. Oh well. I ordered me a postcard and plan to proudly display it in the house. Hopefully the Two Republics Life building will live on in some small way here in the old McBroom house.. :)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

street trees

I've been on a tree kick lately as I recently came across this document regarding the El Paso greensweep initiative. It got me thinking that I really need to get some trees planted along the street in front of my house. One, it looks pretty. Two, these historic neighborhoods seem barren when devoid of plantlife. Much more so than the newer developments springing up on the outskirts of the city. So, I decided to do my part. I went to a local nursery in the upper valley and brought home some vesuvius plum trees.
I kind of went back and forth on what kind of trees to plant (and annoyed my wife in the process :) ). My biggest fear with this was planting something that would completely block the view of the house from the street. What's the point in fixing up a house if you can't see it right? :) As you can see in the pic, the retaining wall is about 3 to 4 feet off street level, then another 2 feet or so for the foundation of the house. So I figured the tree either had to grow really tall to form a canopy over the house or really small so at most it would block the first floor view. These specific plum trees grow to a max height of 18 feet by 12 feet so they should complement it well. Plus I love how they flower in the spring! This is what they'll look like when mature. A little unwieldy, but with some vigilant pruning they should look great.
I'm still thinking about what to do about the rest of the area between the sidewalk and the street. I don't know if I want grass down there. The sprinkler system isn't set up for the street level, so it would have to be manually maintained. Don't really want to do that. I'll probably use some low-lying native ground cover that doesn't need any help from me, but still looks great. That'll probably wait till next spring. The tan rock theme is a little plain.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

parking woes come to an end

Some of you may recall my whining about the parking problems on account of the elementary school across the street and the students from the local university. I wrote a bit about it here (first parapgraph). Well, the pain and suffering is finally over as our street got our no parking signs installed. Now, only residents will have the privelege of parking in front of our homes! Who would think? :) I saw a metermaid writing out a ticket for an illegally parked car firsthand too. I couldn't help but strum my fingers together with an evil Mr. Burn's "Excellent".

Here's a pic from the good old days. It doesn't look like that anymore aside from the few stragglers who didn't get the memo. The metermaid really needs to make sure she's catching all the violators too. I mean, really, it's free money for the city.