The More Things Change. . .

By on 12 August, 2015 in Historic Midtown, Karren Pell with 0 Comments

20150811_141915 (2)I much enjoyed Carole King’s post on living in and renovating a historic home. My co-conspirator touched on many issues facing historic home owners in this modern era. I thought it might be interesting to go back in time and see if some of the issues facing my current neighbors were the same as those of previous home owners in Capitol Heights. My time machine of choice is a collection of newsletters, “The Capitol Heights Weekly” from August 1924.

First of all, then as now in the historic Capitol Heights neighborhood, renovation was making news: “Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Coleman have recently purchased the piece of property at 625 South Perry St. known formerly as the Hall place and will remodel it … making it into a modern studio apartment.” Keeping the best of the old while updating was a theme then as now: The upper floor “is being refitted with steam heat,” while “the mahogany wainscoting and hardwood floors are being refinished.”

In 2015, several yards in beautiful Capitol Heights are overgrown and unkempt regardless of city ordinances. A column in the 1924 newsletter discusses the same problem: “For some cause the citizens are taking no interest in having weeds cut … which has become a nuisance.” In 2015, we can use computers and telephones to urge the city to post notices on the unsightly overgrowth. In 1924, laws also required mowing, and the “The Capitol Heights Weekly” journalist strongly suggested the owners “lose no time in getting a man, a hoe, or a mowing blade and get those weeds down.”

As anyone might predict, rascals abound in any age. While I can assure you that all the men I personally know in Capitol Heights are scholars and gentlemen (well, maybe one exception), still, the human condition being what it is, I assume there is a rascal somewhere. In 1924, a classified ads states, “WANTED – Gentleman living near Capitol Heights would like to meet lady who is willing to support husband.” One wonders just how many women contacted him.

So while there is no doubt that times have changed, still we can look back and see that then as now, an older home requires sensitive updating, some folks don’t see weeds and high grass, and some men are rascals. On a personal note, the photograph that accompanies this blog is of my house in Capitol Heights. Hubby Tim Henderson and I have done a lot of renovations while preserving historic architectural detail. Please note that Tim keeps the yard looking good, and I can, without reservation, state that he qualifies on every level as a scholar and a gentleman. The rascal of the family is our cat, Leopold.

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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