Unique Streets: 27
Miles Walked: 5.53
Street Names (italicized have been walked on another day): Waldorf Street, Staver Street, Dewey Avenue, Gribble Street, Evergreen Road, Anderson Road, Baytree Street, Mount Pleasant Road, Colby Street, Colby Terrace, Ames Street, Omen Way, Sirius Street, Regulus Street, Golf Way, Wilson Road, Faber Street, Manuel Street, Chute Way, Morrisey Street, Chapin Street, Acheson Street, Harpen Road, Maplewood Drive, Ivory Avenue, Scherling Street, Mount Troy Road, Mount Troy Road Extension, Cherryland Street, Cerise Street, Cerise Place, Valley View Street, Sovereign Street, Zane Place, Nelson Run Road, West View Avenue, Perrysville Avenue, Franklin Road, Santiago Street, Radium Street.
I can tell you a story based on the outward appearances of a home. A weed-filled perennial garden in front of a furniture-less porch holding up only a pair of muddy softball cleats means that a newly-single man lives here. He got the house on Birmingham, she got to leave Carrick. There’s a handsome boat in this driveway. The people who live here are empty-nesters close to retirement. On a different street, a holey boat is taking confession from rusty farm equipment. Penance is eternity in the weeds. A few months later I might walk down the same block. I don’t remember what I saw or noticed on the street until I am walking in my very own footprints. My feet remember which way to go. The yard boat used to fish for field mice and moles is gone, replaced by a nice Japanese Maple. The neighborhood is gentrifying right before my very eyes.
Sometimes a house calls me to dig deeper into its story. Rarely do I get to venture inside a house that piques my interest. That was the case with a specific house in Perry South. I structured this walk so I could get a better look at it.
On Waldorf Street in Perry South, much is the same save for the direction in which I’m walking. The change in course shifts my perspective and I see brand new things. Before, I didn’t notice the row of rusty wrought iron spikes stuck in crumbing cement.
I get closer to examine what’s left of the ancient railing and notice a massive pumpkin patch on the hillside below. That certainly wasn’t there before.
I approach the object of my admiration and reason for this walk. Drawing me here is a large brick Victorian house that is perched on the edge of Waldorf Street.
When I’d walked here before I was struck by the timeless beauty of the red brick and neatly painted wood trim. I half expected to see one of the Halliwell sisters standing on the front porch. I would love to own a house like this and as soon as I saw it for sale on zillow.com, I beelined my way over to Perry South.
I will recount the rest of the walk I took in my next post, but I’d like to spend some time with this 1890 beauty, built by Christ Detzel.
Christ Detzel was in the ice business (according to his obituary) and presumably made his money from the ice collected from the lake at the base of his property. That lake is no longer there but would have been where Gribble, Dewey, and Evergreen Streets are. Check out the map below or visit it on the web yourself.
Christ and his wife Bertha built the house for their children. Unfortunately, over half of their 13 children would not make it into adulthood.
I visited their gravesite in Ridgelawn cemetery and was saddened to see how many little children they had to bury.
Of the children that made it into adulthood, most perished from stomach maladies. Christ himself outlived 10 of his 13 children and his wife who died in 1910 at the age of 60. Christ passed away in 1934 after he was hit by a car.
After the patriarch of the family died, Ida Detzel who was never married lived in the house with various family members. In 1938, the land around the house started slipping down the hill. I wonder if maybe the filled-in lake was pulling it down.
In 1945 a man working on a sewer line to the house was killed when rocks and dirt lining the ditch in which he worked, fell in on him.
Even though it appears that the land around this house is in a constant state of movement, the house itself stands steadfastly in place. I know because I got to go inside.
When I started to do some research on 345 Waldorf, I found out that it had a Facebook page dedicated to it. I reached out to the owner and we arranged a time for me to visit the house.
I arrived on a rainy October morning and met Tim on the wrap around porch.
We went in the side door into the dining room and quickly got out of the rain. Tim told me that he had actually just accepted an offer on the house and it would be changing hands soon. Good timing for me then! The interior of the house was dark but cozy in spite of the fact that they were all devoid of furniture.
Tim walked me through the rooms and explained what work had been done in each. It seemed to have been a real labor of love. If you visit the facebook page, you can see detailed accounts of all of the work that Tim and his partner had done.
I didn’t take any pictures until we got into the basement. It was dark and damp as you would expect a basement to be. The sturdy 130 year old walls were made of sandstone and the floor was laid brick. One corner creeped me out a bit and so I snapped a picture.
I was trying not to let my imagination run away from me when Tim asked me if I wanted to see the root cellar. 😳
“Sure!” I masked my fear of a deeper, darker room with excitement. Tim opened a trap door in the corner and revealed a set of wobbly wood steps. He went first and disappeared into the dark. I trepidatiously followed and found that I could just barely stand upright. Tim had to stoop a bit. The first thing I noticed was a pile of white things that looked like tiny skulls. “Are those chestnuts or tiny skulls?” As I was saying this, Tim was picking one up. As soon as I mentioned that they looked like skulls, he dropped it like it bit him. He said that they were probably chestnuts because years ago, they’d had a squirrel. I imagined that squirrel pouting outside of the locked entrance to his own private stash.
Then I looked up. What I saw made my spine turn to ice. Suspended from the ceiling were white spiders.
Puffy white ghost spiders. I asked Tim what they were. What he said next brought tears to my eyes. “When spiders are in the dark their whole lives and never see the light, they turn white.”
I couldn’t get out of that root cellar fast enough.
Back upstairs, we went through the rest of the rooms and into the back yard. Substantial work was done by Tim to shore up the foundation in the back of the house. According to the family of the previous owner, Wayne Klaus, the kitchen had slanted for years. Now it was level and boasted a large walk in pantry.
In the corner of the dining room, the floor slanted at an alarming angle. Tim took me outside to show me the bowing brick wall. The structural engineer that examined the house said that there was nothing to fear about its structural integrity. The house had settled as much as it would in its first 30 years. Every inch from the creepy root cellar to the secret room in the attic tower had been in the same exact spot for 100 years. It’s good to know that some things never change.
I imagine 345 Waldorf being around for another 130 years. The ghost spiders will still inhabit the root cellar, I’m sure. I wonder who else the spiders will call…