Magical Mystery Tour

The duplex next door to us, which was partially damaged by the neighborhood fire a few weeks, is soon to be gutted. The entire roof needs to be replaced, as does the front porch. (The front porch wasn’t damaged in the fire, but it’s in such poor condition that it doesn’t meet code.)

I’ve never been in the north side of it, but evidently it was modernized a couple of years ago when the current owners bought it. However, the back side of that unit was pretty damaged by the fire and smoke. The south side wasn’t damaged too much other than a hole in the living room ceiling, and of course, the smoke. But it needs to be gutted for a totally different reason–mainly to make it habitable to any reasonably sane tenant. I think everyone except the insurance company would agree that it would have been better if this place had been a total loss, and could be completely rebuilt.

This early 1900’s duplex has been owned by a string of slumlords – eight just in the past 20 years. Other than the recent remodel on the north side, I don’t think any owner did much of anything to either side since the 1940’s, other than a new roof at some point.  The renters, however, certainly made their mark.

In the 1970’s, this street was a real hippie hangout, and this duplex was probably the biggest hangout of them all. It was outfitted with shag carpet up the walls and old barn wood as paneling. My ex-neighbor lived there for 19 years, and since he’s a taxi driver who works nights and sleeps most of the day, all he wanted was a nice, dark “cave”. He certainly got it. He told me that he’d had a bunch of people come up to him over the years to tell him that they used to live there. I’ve also talked to people who were familiar with either that duplex, or just the street in general, from the 1970’s. I wonder how many people crashed there during that decade.

At any rate, when my neighbor was cleaning out the last of his stuff last week, he let me go in and take photos. No words could possibly do it justice. I probably should have taken video, because even the photos don’t really capture the full glory.

I’ve only posted small versions of the photos to save download time, but I highly encourage you to click them for bigger versions – they’ll open in a new window.

The front door of the duplex opens into a small entryway. There’s a door to the right which goes into the bedroom, which has colored glass inserts, and has been stenciled with flowers, and a line of fish across the top. They’re quite faint, so I’m not sure how well you can see them, depending on your monitor.

Door to bedroom Door to bedroom

Another door leads to the living room. The front of it has been covered with rough-sawn logs, that still have bark on them. These logs were also used as the headers above the windows, which you can just barely see behind the door. Reflected in the glass of the door, you can see the living room’s light fixture – the bare light bulb with beaded shade.

Door to living room Beaded lamp

The living room walls have been lined with old barn wood. That built-in cabinet is probably original, though. The lower section of the walls has real tongue-and-groove wood paneling, which evidently replaced what used to be shag carpeting halfway up the walls. I notice that it looks suspiciously like the wood tongue-and-groove paneling that was used in the upstairs of our house… I wonder if it was the same person who put that in, or if the owner of our house might have at least given them the leftover wood. Hmmm.  I have artfully avoided photographing the mess on the floor, or the hole in the ceiling. As a result, it doesn’t look half bad in these photos. But when you add in the dirty, torn, sculptured carpet (circa 1980), and the areas where the wood has partially been ripped from the walls, it’s not so great.

Barnwood paneling and built-in cabinet Living room

The ceiling of the living room has been lined with painted tin tiles and rough logs. The photos actually look better than in real life – it’s all sagging and bent – this photo shows the best part. The south side of the duplex is heated exclusively by this gas heater, plus a space heater in the bedroom. I would assume that a wood-burning stove originally stood here. I have no idea what the story is with that mish-mash of surfaces behind the stove. Brick, wood, metal. Yes, it’s pretty strange.

Living room ceiling Living room - stove

Words practically fail me as we get to the kitchen. But not quite. The kitchen sink is covered in old wood, and stenciled with floral designs and windmills.

Kitchen sink Kitchen sink

The stove is an old enamel-coated Magic Chef. Perhaps from the 1930’s? As you can see on the floor below the water heater, there are at least two different kinds of linoleum squares on the floor, some of which have been torn up, leaving bare patches of the underlayment. I didn’t think to photograph it, but the wall above the stove has been paneled with wood, and holes were gouged out for the light switches. Clever. The kitchen cabinets (both upper and lower) have had barnwood applied over the existing cabinet doors. Or what was left of them, at least. The rope handles are a nice touch. I should have taken a photo of one of the upper cabinet doors from the inside, showing the rotted-out old cabinet door underneath the barnwood. Darn. You’ll just have to imagine it.

Oven Kitchen cabinets

And those linoleum squares on the floor? They were also used as the countertop.

Kitchen floor Kitchen countertop

And last, but certainly not least, is the room off the kitchen. I assume this was originally the back porch of the house, and was later enclosed. To the right of the refrigerator, you can see where there is still the shag carpeting going up the wall, so you can get an idea of what used to be in the living room. The second photo shows the area to the left of the refrigerator. I believe that the stairway to the basement is behind the green-shag-carpeted structure. But I don’t know for sure – I wasn’t going back there. In both photos you can see windows lined with shag carpet.

Storage area Storage area

It’s the end of an era. If I get the chance to get back there to take photos after the remodel, I’ll certainly post an update. The owners are expecting to have the place ready for renters again in about 6 months. I can hardly wait. **Choke**choke**. I wish the old tenant were coming back, but he said he’s done with it.

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6 Responses to Magical Mystery Tour

  1. Chris says:

    Ack! I cannot imagine living there.

  2. margene says:

    When you described it I really didn’t imagine it quite like this! It’s so much worse. The pieces of glass in the door grab my attention as I’ve been dreaming a bout panes of color glass recently. They are quite quaint.

  3. CaroleP (ohio says:

    WoW! Couldn’t really imagine until I saw the pics. What part did you say was condemned? Noticed not a lot of wall decor. Maybe the walls were the decor??? Oh my.

  4. Kitten says:

    Oh my heavens, that is so awful there are no words.

  5. JessaLu says:

    omg I love that stove!! Everything else terrifies me, hehe

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