Saturday, January 31, 2015

North Grove Street Blues: You Can Never Go Home Again

The slanty shanty with the droop stoop will soon be no more.

It is with rather mixed emotions that I bring this news to you today. On the one hand there isn't anything much that I can do about it since I don't own the house anymore. The new owners paid a fair price for the place, and we are most definitely enjoying the upgraded surroundings we live in now. And really, it isn't like the hogan that I used to call home in Sierra Madre is being turned into one of Adele Chang's "Modern Family" homes. Five bathrooms would take up half of the available building space.

But perhaps I should just get right to it. Here's the news:


When we sold the place the understanding was the existing structure would be renovated with a 500 sq. ft. addition being added to the front. Something that would take the place up to around 2,300 square feet. Which is fine. Now it will now be a little less than that. When we bought 491 Grove it was 1,350 square feet. We put on an addition that brought the place up to its present neo-palatial 1,800 square feet. 

It was also just about the lowest costing house in town when we bought it. The S.S.W.T.D.S. had been on the market for over 6 months, and the previous owners had come down considerably in their asking price. It was a different market back then. It was also just about all we could afford.

It certainly does looks like the renovation is going to be a bit more thorough than originally planned. But as far as the size goes, the new owners of what had become known as "The Tattler House" have held to their word. We're also talking about a very small lot, so I am not certain there is much else anyone could do with that site.

I believe this is pretty much how things are supposed to work. The new size will be in scale with the existing property, it will still be one story so nobody's views of the mountains will be obscured, and the new design doesn't scream, "Hey, look-a me! I just made a lot of money!" 

Something that the more McMansion style rebuilds have going on. Having grown up in fairly prosperous circumstances I've never much cared for any of that. It really is overrated in my opinion. I'm happy to leave fixture fussing and doorknob design philosophy to others. It leaves a hole in your soul. There have got to be more important things to do with your precious time than stressing over nonsense such as that. But that is my opinion. It might not be yours.

We did spend a lot of years there. There is that. Before we bought the house it had been a rental property for about 10 years, and even after having been staged and prettied up a little it was still a mess. I'd never seen a house with its hot water heater in the middle of the living room before. Maybe it was done that way for warmth in the winter. And, not being a very materialistic person, I did not see much need for the gold vinyl toilet seats. Those went as well.

However, a lot of life did happen there. And now it all becomes even more of a memory. My wife moved her practice out of town last month because she wants to work closer to where the kids are going to school. So really my last remaining ties to Sierra Madre are this blog and the people there who still put up with me.

I guess I'll have to try and hang on to them for a little while longer.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. Great article Mod. And it sounds like it's going to be the kind of demolition that we can all agree is not a bad idea. Especially since it is not 2 stories - that's a very big deal in that location.
    But it's a drag that they led with "We're only going to add a room" and it turned in to "We're going to take down the whole thing." Just like the Browns with the Darling house - they didn't know what they were buying?
    Hope the Grove development sticks to that only one story statement.

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  2. I think we need to put the 126 E. Mira Monte house also known as the "Henry A. Darling House" on the back burner. I'm now more concerned about the demolition of the "John Crawford House", I guess also known as the "Tattler House". Either way, it has a name and always remember the general rule: If a house has a name, it probably is not a good candidate for the wrecking ball. If anything is a historically significant property in Sierra Madre, that's got to be it. Think about how many great Tattler articles were composed in that house. Think of Crawford every day composing some newsworthy article in a valient attempt to save Sierra Madre from the forces of destruction. I think we need to try to buy the house back and turn it into a museum. Maybe get a few pieces of actual furniture form the Crawford family. Perhaps the laptop used to compose all the articles. Maybe even his typewriter depending on how long The Tattler has been running. That house can be a permanent reminder to all Sierra Madre citizens that "We shall never forget.." So at the next City Council Meeting, remember the battle cry: "Save the John Crawford House.". We can get t-shirts and signs. I guess while we're at it, we can try to save the "Henry A. Darling House" too but we need to have our priorities.

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    1. It is historic. I understand some of The Tattler's exclusive stories were leaked in that very kitchen...

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    2. If only the pipes could talk.

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    3. Don't forget the mailbox. We could have a display of the Crawfords bashed in mailboxes - the cost of writing free press in Sierra Madre, the revenge of the developers.

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    4. Yes, that was after we had become known supporters of Measure V. Three mailboxes that, upon inspection, appeared to have been knocked off of their pedestals by baseball bats. Obviously somebody had benefited from their Little League training. But we were hardly the worst afflicted. The late Ed Clare had his mailbox blown up. And then there was the helpful lawyer couple who had their brake cables cut. Nice people were out there fighting Measure V. You can only hope they never get their downtown investments back.

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    5. Or that they get control of the council again.

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  3. Wasn't the garage supposed to become the Measure V Theatre?

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  4. Wow a bit melancholy today huh sir? Yeah - each one of us has a place that is/was the center of our universe for a time. You'll get over it; someday you'll pine for the place you are in now, when you typing away in the old folks home. Maybe it'll be the one they just constructed across from City Hall, and you can watch the concerts in the park from your window, hobble over to Arnolds and chat with Basil every now and then....

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    1. Basil is always willing to listen.

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  5. "If a house has a name?....what kind of gibberish is that? Well, here's your solution to preserve SM, start attaching names to every piece of property in town....simple solutions people.

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    1. What a great idea! I am going to call mine Buzz Off Bud. Or BOB.

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    2. You might be on to something 7:10. Maybe we should attach a name to every single house in town. Under the general rule, that will stop the wrecking ball. Thanks for that great idea 7:10. You must be a true preservationist. You kind of sent a mixed message though when you called it gibberish.

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    3. Hey, it makes as much sense as the stupid "Legacy Trees" idea approved by the prior Council.

      "I want to name this tree "Kitty" after my beloved pet."

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    4. Has anyone heard the story about the woman who named her legacy tree after her late husband, and then cut it down herself with a buzz saw?

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    5. Best part about "Legacy Trees" is that the next owner can apply for s no-fee permit to cut it down, legally.

      Legacy, Schmagacy

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  6. I'm calling my house "Lucky Baldwin Slept Here." It gives it some historical significance. After all, he was the father of this community.

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    Replies
    1. When was your house built?

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    2. It was built in 1957.

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  7. Not unlike the fate of a 1910's cabin on upper middle Brookside (maybe only Canyon residents will recogize this street description): set way back on a small lot adjacent to the wash, lifted up of its humble foundations to dig out a basement underneath, far too close to the property line, and when lowered back in place it, OPPS, collapsed! Thus the stinker that pulled off this ruse got an entirely new cabin on the property line with no set backs (it was just a small basement under the "existing" structure) and the neighbors to the side have been compromised ever since. Many of us in town have been watching these lies for many years. Would like it to stop, but not likely, as long as ever present greed prevails.

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  8. I am usually in no hurry when I drive across town to head east or west so I have devised routes to avoid having to pass all the monster houses that have been shoehorned into to Sierra Madre's small lots over the past 25 years (yes it has been going on that long!). As you watch an empty lot get a new "cram on" or an old modest bunglow or post WWII stucco go the way of the bulldozer, it is like driving by a house where a friend died. Actually, I have several of those in town where their house still stands: I am not sure it is nostalgia as such or just profound grief for what was, will be no more and the realization that very few people give a damn.

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  9. Maybe the city council needs to reconsider that 1940 date. Move it up to 1960. Much of Sierra Madre was built in the 1950s. Doesn't that history count as well?

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    1. 7:59, that was the effort by some at the last meeting - to make the cut off date 1970, which the acting director of development told us is the common practice. 45 years is the usual yardstick. The council went with 1940.

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    2. Odd. Who pushed for that 1940 date?

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    3. Maybe they hate the Eisenhower Era. This might be political.

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    4. Funny 10:27. Every developer/realtor/flipper in California would have pushed for 1940.

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    5. Not sure, but I think the date hinged on protecting what could potentially be called historical, without question. One pro-preservation realtor (Mike Paris?) was talking about ranch houses being historical. Twice, He got in touble for coming to the podium and talking about it the second time. Lucky you, not at the meeting, huh?

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    6. Too many crappy post-war junkers out there. 1940 is a reasonable date.

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    7. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

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    8. I've met Mike Paris. He is a guy with lots of interesting things to say.

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  10. Hey Mod, I am one of the ties you still have here, and I will not let it be broken. Thanks John.

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  11. I've been in the former Mod Family manse on numerous occasions. It wasn't grand but it was very comfy. Probably a great view to the south but there were no windows to speak of on that side. But I'm mystified as to why someone would pay $750,000 for a home only to tear it down and build a 2,300 sq ft one-story place in that neighborhood. Really, mystified. On a potholed street that you can't park on during the weekends because of hikers, across from a mom & pop assisted living site that has non-stop barking dogs, a half block away from the Monastery and its monumental planned development that'll be nothing but controversy for years. Why? Really, mystified ...

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    1. Don't forget the weekend AA meetings at Bailey Canyon Park. And the drum circles. Very colorful corner, that one.

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    2. Construction has been going on for months on the house immediately north also. A very chaotic corner.

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    3. Didn't some dude shoot himself in Bailey Canyon park recently? Right in front of some kids?

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  12. Stupid decisions are often hard to fathom. It has to be a spec house. Nothing else makes much sense.

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    1. I think those buyers have done this before - they're not new to flipping. That said, I don't blame the Crawfords for anything, and if I had been in their position, I would have sold and moved too. They made a great choice for their family.

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  13. Legacy Trees is a concept found throughout the United States where communities value their forests and individuals want to do their part to save special old growth tree(s) either they planted or inherited on a heritage property. I could just about guess who posted against this concept for our town but even if it was someone else it has the smell of an anti-preservationist and then some.

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  14. A few hits of the wrecking ball and you do lose a piece of history. Even just the memory of walking by a familiar neighborhood with familiar houses. There's something comforting in that. Sometimes people will tell the Seller something they want to hear because if they told you they were going to bulldoze the house that the Seller's family grew up in, the Seller might choose a different buyer. Hopefully, that's not the case here but very hard to control people just being honest about their intentions. Many times, a buyer's agent will have a letter from the buyer to the seller telling the seller how much they like the house and how they hope their family can enjoy it and accumulate the same great memories the seller had. To this day, I occasionally drive by the house I grew up in and reflect on the great memories I had there. I've even knocked on the door and gone inside so that I can see my old bedroom that I shared with my brother. I've showed it to my kids and pointed to the front lawn where we used to climb the big oak tree. I would be sick if somebody ever tore the house down. A part of me would go down with it. If I was to ever sell the house I live in now where I have raised my kids and I had two buyers, one who was going to tear it down and another who perhaps was going to pay less but keep it standing, I would take less and choose the buyer who loved the house as much as my family does. Maybe the buyer for the Crawford house realized what they had to say to get their offer accepted. I hope that's not the case but nothing surprises me any more.

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  15. 12:48, I really like you

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  16. After you've sold and moved out of your house there really isn't a whole lot you can do. You have to just move on.

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  17. You do move on 2:32 but its nice to know where you came from. It kind of grounds you. My wife had to leave the country she grew up in because some very bad people now control the levers of power. At least for now, its too dangerous to go back. She would love to visit and drop by the school she went to, her old house, the ice cream parlor where her mom and dad took the family but she can't. It may still be there, it may not. Either way, its the same result. Her memories rest only in her mind. But there is something about physically seeing parts of your past or walking the same path you took to get to your school. Its hard to explain exactly but those things still mean alot to people.

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  18. This is worse than Ray Bradbury's home being demolished.

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  19. It is really imperant that something other than buying a family home is going on here. Families are getting smaller, lots of DINKs (double income no kids) and although many state they don't need a such a big home, it is value for resale. Gasp!

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  20. Some of us have been forgotten already .

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    1. Some ask for more than it is possible to give.

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  21. The coyotes in Bailey Canyon have really been hoooooooowling all night. I'm guessing they just read the Tattler and are missing you! :)

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