A Buyer for 1802 Madison

It’s been quiet over at 1802 Madison lately. After a few weekends in a row of chain saws buzzing, city trucks hauling, volunteers drinking coffee, eating G & S donuts and working hard, it seems really quiet. Media coverage and social media are also notably flat after accumulating “likes” on Facebook including international comments, weekly blog posts with photos, newspaper articles, and television spots. But no visible action does not mean there is no action. In fact, there has been a lot of action behind the scenes, and this blog is breaking the big news: 1802 is scheduled to be purchased by a contractor who plans to completely renovate the grand old home.

Let’s review just a bit of history. The two-story house at 1802 Madison Avenue was built circa 1908 — certainly one of the earliest homes in Capitol Heights. Its owners and builders, the Perry family, resided in the home for at least two generations. At some period, probably during World War II, the house was divided into apartments. In the last decade, however, the house has been a single family residence.

A house of this age requires renovation and maintenance. As time went on, the needs of home became overwhelming. When part of the roof caved in, the city put the house on the demolition list. It was at this point that some members of Capitol Heights banded together to save 1802. Neighbors met and formed an LLC and raised the money to purchase the home. The city officials were very helpful and willing to work with the neighborhood, and postponed 1802’s demolition. However, repairs still needed to be made in a timely fashion. After closing on the purchase, quoting the Ancient Mariner, and drinking champagne on the front steps, it was time to get a plan and put it into action. Word went out and help showed up. You can read about the first volunteer Saturday in my MML post “Save 1802 Madison.”

Volunteers from all over Montgomery, not just Capitol Heights, worked and cleared the Sleeping Beauty overgrowth, hauled potential treasures to Rescued Relics and the rest (and there was a lot of “rest”) to the landfill. Wonderful discoveries revealed inside included wooden floors in good shape, intact woodwork, and beautiful tile fireplace hearths. Wonderful discoveries outside included brick stairs to the sidewalk, some cement urns, and the interior stairway on the front porch (moved and used as access to an upstairs apartment).

The other notable find you may have heard of was made by Joseph Crowley. Joe was working on clearing the upstairs and found a World War II “M60 practice mortar round.” Cindy Keeping, always looking out for us all, called the police, and well, that got us some media attention! Rich Anderson tells all about it on the blog 1802MadisonProject blogspot.com. Bombs notwithstanding (rumor has it that Joe turned down a job offer from Homeland Security), work continued including soliciting bids from several contractors for the roof. That’s when the next phase began: One of the roofing contractors fell in love with the house.

But, as we know, the course of true love does not always run smoothly. The situation with 1802 was not an easy “just sell it” situation. Regardless of the poets’ claim, “All You Need is Love,” this house needed much more than love. And the Capitol Heights LLC had made commitments not only to the house, but to the neighborhood, the city, and Landmarks Foundation that the house would get what it needed over and above love. Therefore, the discussions commenced, and continued, and now it seems we are all close to the next phase.

Here is where events stand: The closing for the sale of 1802 to Robbie Pelt is scheduled for Monday. Mr. Pelt has signed documents putting into motion the process of having 1802 designated a Historical Property. Mr. Pelt has negotiated a repair agreement and schedule with the codes department of the city. These “first level” repairs include the roof, ceilings, restoration of the back porch, and replacement of all rotten wood and broken windows. Meeting the wishes of the LLC and the neighborhood, Mr. Pelt has signed a deed restriction prohibiting multi-family use. Although he does love the house, Mr. Pelt plans to sell it to a single family when the restoration is complete.

The main objective of “The 1802 Project” (as we titled the efforts regarding the grand old home) was to save the house from demolition and find a buyer who would renovate the house for use as a single family home. At this writing, that goal will soon be met! Although a group of dedicated neighbors initiated the project, the home would not have been saved if, as Christy Anderson says, “folks didn’t come together.” It took the Capitol Heights community working with volunteers from Capitol Heights and other neighborhoods, city officials, Landmarks, and WSFA and The Montgomery Advertiser helping us get the word out, to save 1802. It took all of us.

The city let us put up a “City of Dreams” sign in the front yard of 1802. Dreams are like love; they often require action. We all worked hard to make the dream of saving 1802 come true. Our work paid off. It attracted the person who will take it to the next phase. The place looks quiet now, but soon there will be roofers banging and carpenters whacking. One day, one day, a family will turn the key in the big Victorian door and make 1802 Madison their home and Capitol Heights will have a new neighbor, a great old house, and a dream come true.

Karren Pell is a writer, teacher, and performer who lives with her husband, Tim Henderson, and an assortment of cats and dogs in Capitol Heights. She is the author of three books. Her musical compositions range from commercial songs to theatrical works, with five musical adaptations to her credit.

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  1. Millard Trammell says:

    Good luck to Mr. Pelt, hope his has a lucrative roofing Co. he’ll need it

  2. Cindy Keeping says:

    Excellent story Karren!!! She is a great ol house and I look forward to watching her as she gets gussied up for show!!!

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