All along Race Street in Homewood, 10 or so houses have new door and window treatments courtesy of a recent two-day volunteer effort to spruce up the five blocks that constitute the corridor. Read about that here.
The doors and windows are really just vinyl coverings to make vacant houses look lived in. The effect is kind of lost when second-floor windows are boarded up and ivy is growing all over the porch of one house but the idea is perversely cool.
Everyone on the block knows what’s vacant, but the eye is tricked just enough; it sees the veneer of ownership, even in places where it has become unstuck at the corners.
My former colleage, Elwin Green, is now a leader of the Save Race Street Committee. He also writes and publishes Homewoodnation.com.
He gave me a tour of a street he has come to love over the past 20-plus years. It takes very little imagination to see what this street was, the street Elwin wants it to be again, because it has great bones. Most of the homes are solid, handsome and well kept.
“These were built as middle-class homes,” Elwin said. “This was a suburb of Pittsburgh.”
It was a beautiful day, the maples along the sidewalk were scarlet, dogs were barking and a lot of people were out. A few of them are active on the committee and take care of their designated blocks
Its most involved residents see a beautiful street that needsjust a little help, like some good middle-class people to buy homes that they could get for $3,000, $7,000, $9,000 -- the average asking price for a home in Homewood.
"That's bad if you need a new roof, which costs about that much, but it's good if you're looking for a bargain" of a house, Elwin said. Some of these homes have side bay windows with stained and or leaded glass.
I’ll be writing about the work of the Save Race Street Committee and the larger strategy behind these fake doors and windows, so stay posted.