One of the reasons I like old buildings is that I grew up in a Washington Park bungalow that was built in 1904. My mom and dad bought the house in 1969, and the remodeling started soon thereafter. My dad, being a brick mason and ready to take on anything, got to work. He dug out the basement by hand to create more space for the six of us in a 1,200 square foot house.
As my brothers and sister grew up and moved out, it seemed the house grew larger with my parents popping the top while I was in high school. I will never forget the Friday night after work when we began tearing off the roof to add the first new dormer. The neighbors thought we were crazy, which we were, but by the following Friday, there was a new dormer on the house.
The historic Washington Park neighborhood was going through a transition and many old homes were being torn down. Tearing down his house never occurred to my dad; he chose instead to build upon the home he had. Through renovation, he could keep the character and many unique features of his home intact.
While the new homes are bigger and have more modern features, they don’t have the same character as the older bungalows.
Both of my parents have now passed, and we are in the process of getting the house ready to sell. I have many emotions about seeing the house leave our possession. That house is a reflection of my dad and how he saw the world. His values of hard work, determination and help from family and friends created a gathering place that we all called home.