Monday, March 28, 2011

The Deed is Done

At least, it's recorded by the commissioner and 614 N. Queen is officially ours. We celebrated over the weekend (March 26th) by breaking the lock put on by the old owner and venturing inside.

There were some scary moments, to be sure...

(I'm pretty sure this is evidence of an axe entry, not a visit from Wolverine. Every room had a deadbolt, evidence that the house was used as an illegal rooming house.)

But over all, Matt and I are REALLY excited about what (relatively) good condition the house is in. Truthfully I was fully prepared for caved in ceilings, holes in the floors, crumbling joists. While there's a little bit of slope in the back staircase and bathroom on the upstairs, and certainly tons of work to be done, over all I am feeling pretty damn good about things.

(Mom holds an old Notice of Violation for not clearing the lot or securing the house.)

I took lots of video on my little Canon s90, so you can join us on our first foray into the house. Warning: some of it may not be suitable for children.

Part I:

Part II:

I found some of the graffiti scrawled on the walls achingly sad:

(Seems like this one was amended post-breakup.)

We also found other hints about the house's former inhabitants. And old report card with all "S" for "Satisfactory" - Except an "O" for "Outstanding" in Technology:

And one sign of severe financial hardship among many. A light bill with a hefty prior balance:

Matt and I got up early on Sunday, donned masks, and started bagging some of the trash in the upstairs rooms, rolling up disgusting carpet pieces, and hauling plywood and other large trash into the front room as a staging area. For the time being, that's where it will all stay. We don't want to call too much attention to the fact that the house is being worked on, as its neighbor to the north is slated to go up for auction shortly, and we'd like to gain control of it as well to ensure that both houses, someday, make great homes for someone.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The F.L. Suitt House

From the National Register of Historic Places (I'm including the description of all three of the "triplets" since they contain relevant information):

612 N. Queen – W. H. Linthicum House – c. 1919
This one-story, hip-roofed house is three bays wide and triple-pile. The house has a stuccoed concrete block foundation under the porch, vinyl siding, and an asphalt-shingled roof. The house has a hipped front dormer with a small rectangular vent. The engaged front porch is supported by modern square posts with modern replacement rails. Original windows have been replaced with vinyl one-over-one windows, but an original divided-light sidelight remains next to the replacement front door. The houses at 612, 614, and 616 N. Queen Street are nearly identical and closely spaced. Their earliest inhabitants were machinists and other working-class men, indicating that the houses were likely constructed by a single property owner as investment properties. W. H. Linthicum was listed here in 1919; the house was vacant in 1924.

614 N. Queen – F. L. Suitt House – c. 1919
(<--- This is our house.)
A one-story, hip-roofed house, this building is identical in form to its neighbors at 612 and 616 N. Queen Street. The house is three bays wide and triple-pile with a brick foundation, wood weatherboards, and a standing-seam metal roof. There is a small hip-roofed dormer on the front façade that has been covered with vinyl siding, obscuring any original window or vent, and two interior brick chimneys in poor condition. The engaged front porch is supported by original battered posts on painted brick piers with a modern replacement rail. Windows are replacement six-over-one vinyl and the front door and sidelight are boarded. Early inhabitants include F.L. Suitt in 1919 and A. K. Gunter in 1924.

616 N. Queen – L. C. Ball House – c. 1919
This one-story, hip-roofed house is three bays wide and triple-pile. The house has a stuccoed brick foundation, vinyl siding, and an asphalt-shingled roof. The engaged front porch is supported by replacement wood posts on brick piers with a replacement modern rail. The house has replacement six-over-one windows on the façade, one-over-one wood windows on the sides and rear, and a replacement front door with a boarded original sidelight. Additional exterior details have been covered with the addition of vinyl siding. The house is nearly identical to 612 and 614.

The Deets

On March 8, 2011, I walked to the Durham County Judicial Building to bid at auction on 614 N. Queen Street, a tax foreclosure. Matt and I were ready to make further investments in our neighborhood of Cleveland-Holloway, and that house and its immediate neighbor (616 N. Queen, about 4 feet to the north) had held our interest for years. We lovingly refer to those two houses, along with 612 N. Queen to the south, as "The Triplets of Queen Street", and that day we would be the high bidders on the middle house.

The deed was transferred on March 25, 2011, and the house was ours. This blog will serve as a place our record-keeping and thought-processing as we wait for its sister to come up for auction as well, and decide what will become of the houses (rental, owner-occupied, deed-restricted affordable housing, et cetera).