We live in an old house. The oldest house I have lived in was a lovely two story sandstone brick house on 5th street southeast in Medicine Hat when I was in grade 11. I think it was built in 1890 or very early 1900's, I can't remember. But it was old! The floor was tilted and the walls had plaster spackle on them, and someone at one point decided it would be cool to have close to 25 large mirrors throughout the house, including two mirrored walls opposite each other in the upstairs bathroom that looked creepy as fuck when you were having a bath. Just you and a zillion naked duplicates of yerself disappearing off in the distance in either direction, all taking a bath. How relaxing!
The first house I lived in when I moved to Edmonton seven years ago was knocked down after I moved out. The lot was purchased as an infill project. I haven't been by to see it, but it's odd to think that it doesn't exist anymore. My studio there looked out into the front yard, which was substantial as the house was situated at the very back of the lot from the street. There was a wonderful flowering crabapple tree, a nice bed of lilly-of-the-valley planted between the walkway at the side of the house and the fence, and a good crop of tiger lilies lining the front of the house. It had a partly excavated basement with a dirt crawl space, and a steep set of stairs to get down to do laundry. It was tiny and drafty, but cozy as well.
Our current place was built in about the 50's. The floor isn't slanted but the doorways are arched. It has a dining room just off the living room and kitchen (and is the space my studio occupies), wooden doors, door frames and cupboards and plaster walls that make hanging pictures without a drill, unpleasant. I like living in older houses, with all their quirks and weird history. I've lived in a few brand new places, and it's just not the same.
But sometimes these old places are costly to upgrade or fix, or are too far gone to do anything with and so they get knocked down and something new gets built in it's place. I understand this is the natural progression of things, but it's still a little sad, especially when you see some of the things that get put in their place. WTF?! Is what I think about half the time when I see some of these infill projects. Some of them are nice, but the majority of them have multiple levels. Lots of stairs. Is no one taking into account the aging population that might not want to, or can't get up all those stairs comfortably? What ever happened to a nice thousand-or-so square foot one level house? I get the reason for the multiple levels; smaller footprint for a larger dwelling divided by three levels, but it does make me wonder about how a lot of these places will hamper some people's ability to downsize and relocate to more established, walkable, neighbourhoods with a major obstacle like too many fucking stairs to climb.
Anyhow, this is not a post to rail against infill or gentrification. I was headed to the farmer's market a few weeks ago, and along 81 ave where there is free angle parking, some properties there were rezoned and demolished to make way for a new condo development. An old church, a small pay parking lot and two old houses have been engulfed by this project. I don't think anyone had been living in the houses for some time. My favourite one was the blue one with the striped awnings. It's gone now. There is just a hole in the ground behind a temporary orange wire construction fence with a flashy sign depicting the young and trendy folks who may occupy this new development once it's complete.
The little blue house quickly became a part of Edmonton we forgot about.
So I painted a picture of that little sentinel, so it doesn't get forgotten completely.