New posts here at The Progressive Redneck have been rather spotty as of late and I want to begin with an apology to my 3-4 regular readers. Sorry about that, but I haven’t been posting much because I was moving. And, if you think that’s not an excuse, you’ve obviously never moved.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had bought a house and said I’d tell you about it later. Well, it’s later and I intend to wax eloquent about my new home. Let’s start with a picture:
It’s a 1906 bungalow in the Glenwood neighborhood in Greensboro NC. Now, people familiar with Greensboro might be thinking “Isn’t Glenwood the “hood”? Why would you buy a house there?” I’m so glad you asked. Let me count the ways.
First of all, did you even look at the picture? How could I not buy such a cool place? If you could see inside, you’d really understand what I’m talking about. 10 foot ceilings, beadboard walls, exposed brick in the kitchen and amazing detailed woodwork((that’s covered in layers of glossy white paint. Ugh)) all make for an awesome space. Okay, so maybe “cool” and “awesome” are relative terms, but for a confirmed history geek like me, it’s the perfect home. When I started looking at houses, I knew I wanted a place with history, one that had some character. As far as I’m concerned, both those qualities are sorely lacking in modern homes. In my humble opinion, houses built after 1979 tend to be soulless, cookie-cutter cracker boxes. Add in modern lightweight construction methods and the “cracker box” analogy is even more relevant. I’ll be surprised if many of the houses built after the 1980’s will be standing in 108 years, much less still be habitable. But, this place? It’s stood the test of time and, as you can see, it just oozes character.
As for the “hood” question, I suppose that’s a relevant one since Glenwood has had it problems over the years. Development of the area began in 1905 with the Piedmont Heights neighborhood((which was absorbed by Glenwood in the early 20’s)) and provided affordable, yet full-featured, homes for working-class families in Greensboro. A very active community for many years, it began to go downhill in the 60’s and hit its nadir in the 90’s with a significant drug trafficking problem. At that point, the neighborhood association((founded in 1981)) and the city of Greensboro came up with a plan to return Glenwood to its former glory. With strong interest from UNC-G, things are much better today. That said, while Glenwood isn’t the “hood” these days, it is “hood-adjacent” with a couple of problem areas a few blocks away. But, we’re getting there.
The revitalization efforts are another reason I bought this house. What’s happening here isn’t the gentrification you see in so many cities. Historically significant houses are being preserved instead of torn down and replaced with McMansions. And, they’re not being valued at levels that drive out the people already living here. There’s a community garden, a monthly farmer’s market, get-togethers and events. It’s a neighborhood on its way back and I like being a part of that.
I’ll be honest, the price was also a big factor. I got a lot more house for my money here than I could in another, “nicer” neighborhood. And, I got a good deal on it because it needed quite a bit of work. Fortunately, I was able to get an FHA renovation loan((good thing I’m not a Libertarian. That would be awkward)) which allowed me to make some pretty significant repairs and still have a house payment lower than what I was paying in rent. Is there still work to be done here? Oh yeah, but if I’ve learned anything from my parents, it’s that being active and having projects is the key to staying young. By the time I’m done here, I may be a teen-ager again.
So, we’re completely out of our previous home and all moved in here. All that’s left now is to find a place for all my crap. That may be easier said than done, but it’ll be worth the effort. I’m a homeowner again!