Friday, June 26, 2009

expanding the district

Wow it's been a while hasn't it? I guess I wasn't kidding when I said I would take some time off. Don't worry, I'm still working on my windows. I know everyone is just exploding in anticipation. Patience my dears. I got some vacation time coming and am planning to get those pesky dining room windows finished already. On to other business.

I'm somewhat active in my neighborhood association -- for the past few weeks I've been documenting two streets outside the recognized historic district boundaries. My hope is to get these incorporated into the district so as to give them some level of protection and save what is left of these residential streets. First I need to research the history behind the 40 - 50 historic homes I've identified. But how do you define "historic"? I say anything pre-war (WWII). Sunset Heights was supposedly platted sometime in the late 1800s, so I'm looking for anything built in that timeframe.

The years have not been kind on the the eastern fringe of this neighborhood. Most of the grand mansions that used to stand here have long since been torn down. The ones that are left are more than likely living on borrowed time. Sandwiched between a medical district and downtown, one of these residential streets has been turned into nothing more than a highway. Sad to see really. The homes and apartment buildings that are left have a narrow strip of sidewalk to contend with while having cars fly by you at 50 mph. But I digress.

Here's a sampling of what I'm talking about. Some are in pretty good shape, others are falling apart, and some are completely unrecognizable (historically speaking). I want to document them all and hopefully give them a new lease on life. Cross your fingers.

You don't see very many vintage rowhouses in the western U.S. I'd go so far as to say they are virtually non-existent in the southwest. This is one of the few examples I've see here in el paso. These ain't no Brooklyn brownstones, but I still think they're pretty cool. Definitely worthy of inclusion in my opinion.

This is my favorite queen anne in the neighborhood hands down. The Mundy house is far larger, but there's something about this one. Maybe the tight, more urban footprint of the lot. I imagine there was a row of similar houses off to the right. In their place is a nondescript warehouse type building. What a sight that must have been.

This is one of the big mansions that still stand on the further of the two streets. This one is obviously well cared for and loved. Currently a lawyer's office I think. The picture doesn't do it justice really. There is a small cluster of homes adjacent to it, the rest are parking lots.

This beaux arts style apartment building (maybe that's an overstatement) is pretty neat. Still in active use, so that's always good. I don't really know too much about it, but would love to see inside.
This is another of the big mansions still standing on this street. I'm not sure what architectural style you'd call it. It has some elements of classicism. Still very impressive and well cared for.
Sadly I don't know how much longer this apartment building will be around. It has suffered from complete and utter neglect after being condemned -- which has been a while as far as I can remember. During that time, its decay has accelerated. I would have liked to have seen it in happier times.