Archives for April 2010

107 Kenilworth Road

What was happening in 1929?  The Museum of Modern Art first opened in New York City.  London installed the first public phone booths.  McCall’s debuted these dress patterns.

Yellow, Gray, and white–seen this color palette anywhere lately?

The stock market crashed and ended all glorious flapper days and flippy yellow dresses.  My maternal grandmother turned three years old.  And, this house was built on 107 Kenilworth Road.

I’ll warn you right here, I wax nauseatingly sentimental with old houses.  I connect with them in some kind of spiritual way–and I’m not talking ghosts, people.  It’s a sensitivity to time, experience, mortality.  I know you know what I’m talking about, right?  Or am I weird?

It was almost two weeks ago that I drove by 107 Kenilworth, a house I’ve always admired, and noticed that it was for sale.  This was my in!  I contacted a realtor and pleaded my case.  Could I go in for a look?  Sabine Marienthal kindly said yes, she would take me in.  Now, this isn’t a tour about beautiful designed rooms or a house ready for its close up.  It is about the past and potential in the future.

The house features hallmarks of the Prairie style–hipped roof, oversized eaves, and large banks of windows.

The beautiful half-acre lot sits on the corner of Chiles and Kenilworth, next to the Kenilworth Presbyterian Church.

The house is not dainty, but it is the strength and solidarity of the exterior that captured me when I first saw the house years ago.  While Prairie style homes typically lie low and horizontal to the ground from which it hovers, 107 Kenilworth rises in vertical clusters of brick-covered towers, with the only ornamentation from the v-shaped window mullions. Prairie style peaked in popularity before 107 Kenilworth was built.  The movement began as a pursuit of a distinct American style, stripped of classical references and Victorian excesses.  Frank Lloyd Wright was the lead architect of the movement, with the Robie House, built in 1909, as one of the most important examples of Prairie Style.  Many credit the house for paving the way for American modernism in architecture.

Back to 107 Kenilworth, there is so much potential here for a beautiful family home.  With mature trees and a sprawling lawn, the house is just begging for someone to come and restore her back to that early 20th-century beauty.  I’m begging for it.

Now, let’s go inside.  



Don’t you want to know the different hands who turned this door knob to the closet?   Don’t you want to see the clothes that hung in there through the decades?  What were the dreams that sprouted in sleep in this bedroom?  Who moved into this grand house at the dawn of the Great Depression?  Did a TV play Elvis’ hips, Kennedy’s assassination, the walk on the moon, Princess Diana’s wedding, the horrors of 9/11?  107 Kenilworth is ready for a new generation.  I so hope someone comes and pampers her.

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I know, I’m hopelessly romantic.  And, I’m a dreamer–like I haven’t given it a little thought about what I would do to Miss 107.  Just a little.  I would depart from a traditional American Arts & Crafts look for something reminiscent but much more bright, fun, and modern.  First a little artwork for inspiration, from Castle:Prairie Home

What would you do?  Do you feel the house?

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Many thanks to Sabine Marienthal who indulged me with her time.  After looking at 107 Kenilworth, she asked if I might like to look at another house that afternoon.  Would I?  She is my kind of lady.  And, so, we will have another house tour later this week on TPH!  See here for the complete listing of 107 Kenilworth.

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Thank you to Kimba for featuring TPH last week on A Soft Place to Land.  If it’s not moving, she’ll paint it.  I so love that about her.  Thank you!