By Guest Blogger Mary Butler
This Old House magazine recently published its 2009 list of “Best Old House Neighborhoods,” in the U.S. and Canada. I ran across an article from the Brookings (S.D.) Register announcing that one of the city’s historic neighborhoods was named for its beautiful, classic architecture and “proximity to parks and good schools,” as well as restaurants, bookstores, and antiques shops.
But sadly, the article wasn’t all about the good news: “The choice of the neighborhood is more than a little ironic in that the Brookings County Commission–strapped for administrative and court space–has decided to turn two of the buildings in the residential district into a parking lot.”
Unfortunately, newer-built tract homes aren’t typically built where people want to park.
While This Old House waxes poetic about the Brookings Central Historical District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a wrecking ball is poised to reduce two of the area’s homes that “look like fairytale versions of classic American architectural styles” into rubble.
Landmarking old homes–and not just the neighborhoods they’re located in–is one way to save them. Not sitting idly by while they’re destroyed is yet another. Thankfully, residents of the Brookings historic neighborhood raised their voices and collected enough signatures to bring the issue to a public vote.
After reading about Brookings, I couldn’t help but return to the This Old House Web site to see what other neighborhoods made the magazine’s 2nd annual listing.
According to the Register’s story, This Old House used PreservationDirectory.com to contact neighborhood groups, real estate agents, and preservation societies to assist in its search for the nation’s best areas for old homes. Even better, the magazine choose neighborhoods based on whether they were also a “good buy,” meaning that many of the homes can be purchased for $150,000 to $300,000.
Homes in the Richmond Hill neighborhood in Queens, New York begin at $250,000. Not bad.
Additionally, the magazine groups the homes by interests (for sportsman, dog and food lovers, porch sitters), architectural type (cottages and bungalows, Victorians, and fixer-uppers), and, of course, location.
In my home state, the North Side neighborhood in Pueblo, Colorado won a listing, but pricey Boulder, where I live, didn’t make the cut. I’m disappointed, but not surprised.
Colorado-based freelancer Mary Butler spends much of her free time fixing up an old house.