Get Behind the Mule

Circa-1910 bungalow in Cooper-Young.

| June 06, 2003

There’s your thoroughbred bungalow with second-floor pop-ups and deep bay-window extensions, and then there’s your trusty mule bungalow that is the workhorse of the housing stable. This is more the workhorse built to provide long service with an eminently livable layout but not too many fussy details to maintain.

Bungalows large or small were built to last. Brick and stucco were the preferred exterior materials, and here the majority of the house, including the front-porch rail and the tapering porch columns, are brick. Only the upper front gables and the rear are finished in rough-textured stucco.

The front yard has well-sited trees that now frame the view to the door but will, in years to come, add shade as well. A dogwood will remain the under story ornamental, but a maple and oak will fill to majestic proportions. The late-afternoon sun is already blocked by a western trellis on the porch entwined with Carolina jessamine. Once on the porch, the beadboard ceiling, porch swing, and ceiling fan make you want to forget your cares and rest here awhile.

But cross on over the threshold, as there are further delights. The living and dining rooms have had their original dividing wall removed and now extend the big, open welcome of a South Main Street loft. A brick surround provides the appropriately simple adornment of the fireplace. The nine-foot-tall rooms feature both picture molding and cove at the ceiling juncture. There is a ceiling fan in practically every room of the house, which is important not just in summer but also to even out heat distribution throughout the house in winter.

Another welcome change is that the stairs to the attic have been opened up into the living and dining rooms and not kept enclosed, as is more typical of bungalows. The attic has also been finished as a living space. There is track lighting, and this large upper room has also recently been recarpeted. This space provides a nice guest bedroom and still functions as a great studio or home office when guests are not ensconced.

The other two bedrooms occupy the front and rear corners of one side of the ground floor. This allows each of them to have windows on two sides for better light and cross-ventilation, which, blessedly, during springs like this one, is all we need. The bath between them has recently had ceramic tile installed around the tub and retains its original hexagonal-tile floor in perfect working order.

The kitchen has, like the living and dining rooms, been opened up. The original butler’s pantry can now be either a breakfast nook or a cozy seating area. The wall to the back porch has also been removed, allowing the kitchen views to the rear yard. There is a reasonable amount of workspace and storage cabinets here, but there is also enough room to add more cabinets the next time the floor and countertops are updated. A small chopping block would fit in well now. There is a handy rear storage room that, besides holding the boiler for the working radiators, has lots of shelving for household storage needs.

Out back is a large screened porch that might be even nicer than the front porch. The rear yard is fenced, and shared perimeter plantings make it ever so private. A drive gate up front allows you to bring a car or two inside if you desire. The current owner, in residence seven years, has lovingly painted the place, and the new, single-layer roof is only two years old.

If I had to choose between a thoroughbred and a mule to get behind in the morning and plow, I’d bet on this one to last a lifetime.


1850 Walker Avenue
Approximately 1,710 square feet
3 bedrooms, 1 bath
$127,500 FSBO/Will co-op
The Hobson Company
David Leonard, 278-4433

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