Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Long Goodbye to a Dearly Beloved Neighbor

The House

For 22 years I lived across the street from a modest, one-story, modernist house designed by an architect who worked in Minoru Yamasaki's office in Troy, Michigan. The house was built in 1960, and it had some wonderful features. The most notable was the central living room with two glass walls and a 4-sided clerestory window that ringed the space.

The Central Living Room

My favorite thing about the house was outside -- an enormous, sheltering walnut tree in the front yard. It always reminded me of Longfellow and another very famous "spreading chestnut tree."

The Sheltering Walnut Tree

The original owners died. Their daughter lived there for a time and then sold the house last year. The new owners decided that they could not have the house they wanted simply by enlarging this one, so they elected to tear it down and start over. 

My beloved walnut tree went down the first day.

It took four days to knock it down.




The new owners are building a two-story house that's twice as big. It will be very green. In style it will be colonial. We hope that in time we come to love it as much as we did its predecessor.


  1. Sad to see it go. I am endlessly disappointed by so called "progress." It looked like a gem. Thanks for documenting it, and process of erasure.

  2. Sad to see a good house go. In the Bonnie Brae section of Fairfax County, VA, across Nellie White on the corner lot (like ours) people bought and tore down "a perfectly good" house - built McMansion at the same time housing market fell off the cliff. Just now being re-sold and originals moving out of the new back-fill house. We have been in our house since 1984 and across Jennifer Drive from us the neighbors even longer, rearing their own children and now the grandchildren.