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Monday, February 6, 2006

3511 Arsenal

One of my favorite houses in the Tower Grove Park area is the two-flat at 3511 Arsenal Street. I love its monochromatic articulation in red brick and terra cotta, and its overdone neoclassical ornamentation, suggestive of South American influences.

Last year, I watched as it was boarded up and renovated. The house had its original windows and appeared to be in good condition; it had been occupied for its whole life until then.

Unfortunately, the result of the renovation is baffling at best (what's with fake nine-over-nine windows?).


bev said...

Someone went to Lowes! I guess the nine over nines are an attempt at "old world charm" or somesuch. What were the original windows like? Plain old double-hung windows?

The interior looks like someone at least made an attempt, but missed because they don't understand the scale of older homes. My husband rehabs for a living and I do understand why one can't put in an elaborate staircase - for example. You could go purchase some architectural antiques or have a staircase custom-made, but you'd never get that money back if you're out to re-sell the home.

M said...

That was also my favorite and my wife's favorite house as well. We live in the neighborhood, and would have loved to buy it but it went fast once for sale. After seeing the renovation, I really wish we would have pursued it further. It is quite ugly now.

Michael Allen said...

I think that the original windows were fairly common two-over-one double hung wooden windows.

I wonder how much of the interior work was warranted, given that the place had never been vacant. The interior likely needed just a little TLC -- I'm guessing a lot less than our 1880's two-flat conversion needs.

Then again, when one is just trying to flip a place perhaps conservative instincts make sense. But I wonder how much of a market there is in the Tower Grover area for architecturally disrespectful rehabs.

bev said...

Even though someone was in the building, that may not mean it wasn't gutted in a way - with all the older niceties replaced by 1970s drywall and canned lights. Or as in the case of some of the properties my husband has had properties that were only vacated because he purchased them, they were in such disrepair that my surprised reaction has been "someone was *living* here!?"

(My favorite reaction I overheard was my husband talking to a seller who was trying to convince him that a house was lived-in and livable: "I just went by the property today. Did you know it's raining...inside your house? You know, I'm gonna have to spend a lot of money to fix that.")

I don't know what the property on Arsenal was like, of course. And while I do agree that the interior of the building looks as though it was inexpensively done, I also know that working with higher quality materials and trying to achieve a more appropriate look is sometimes prohibitive. If one is living in the home, that's one thing. But if one is fixing up the home for resale, that's quite another, to be honest. It's very difficult to walk that thin line between low-quality speculator-grade "rehab" and losing your shirt and getting out of the business!

While this "Lowes rehab" isn't what some micro-developers would do, it's not as bad as a "Bellington rehab."