Sunday, March 05, 2006

On The Street Where You Live

I've lived in Del Ray for over a year now, but my old place was on the southern edge, by the middle school and Metro station. Also, I have a much smaller conception of 'neighborhood' than most people here. My new place is in the heart of Del Ray, and I'm getting out and exploring it more, now that I'm moved in. It's great.

The area now known as Del Ray began as housing for workers at the nearby Potomac Yard railroad yard. It included areas known as Del Ray, Mt. Ida, Hume, and St. Elmo (these all remain as street names in the neighborhood). It became the Town of Potomac, which was later annexed by the City of Alexandria. What were once blue-collar homes have become very trendy, as single family homes in traditional neighborhoods have become hard to come by close in to D.C. And we've got everything you need, usually within a few blocks. Elementary school, middle school, rec center, library, lots of restaurants, groceries, and various boutique shops (florists, artists,

I've been on a few walks of the area, and noticed a number of homes and buildings I thought were interesting. I went back today to get some pictures to share. It's a great neighborhood - come visit Del Ray and I'll show you around.

Nice, well tended home across Randolph Street from my backyard

Very nearly a House of Seven Gables. Note also a skylight and a gable with no windows

The Gable that Became a Room. Seems a little top-heavy

I once went to great lengths to mix a custom paint for some shelves I made, which I called 'Chrome Blue.' I never dreamed I would find a house painted in that color

Del Ray has a number of small parks, some of which are just short-cuts through residential blocks

The Octagon House. It always makes me think of spiders and octopi

It took me a moment to figure out why this house looks odd. Where's the foundation? The Sinking House

The Incredible Bungalow that Kept Growing and Became 217 East Del Ray Avenue

Royce Florist, with a nice mural of a flower on the side

The coolest little hardware store on Mt Vernon Avenue. I go there whenever I can find an excuse ("I need two-prong plug adapters!")

The Evening Star Cafe and Planet Wine. Excellent food and drink

The House with Teeth

I really like this place; It's a small, tidy little house

Alexandria Fire House #202, formerly the Town of Potomac Fire Station; one of the unofficial symbols of Del Ray. At first I didn't notice, but the entrance under the tower is also marked "Town Hall." I'll have to find out more about this building.

A single family home that used to be a duplex (note the old stairs and the windows on the right that used to be a front door)

A lot of windows for the front of a pretty small house

The Purple House

The Tiniest House in Del Ray (but they have a big corner lot, and a detached garage)

The House that Wanted to be a Caboose

I think there was a sale on miscellaneous windows and they jumped on it

Another smart little cape that typifies much of architecture in Del Ray

Tagged on the sidewalk; I don't know what it means

Apparently this house is on the town historic register; I haven't the foggiest idea why

My street, packed with well maintained bungalows, all about 70-80 years old

My favorite house in the neighborhood - right across from my front door. It's well maintained, a good size, great color, and even has some shaker shingles on the upper story. And... Posted by Picasa's registered with the Town of Potomac Historic District. Why, and what that means, remains a mystery.


Kelly said...

Pretty soon you will fit right in with a boat in your backyard. Not too many people like to sail around this area.

Remotely Interesting said...

Fantastic post. Excellent photos of some unusual houses. Your neighborhood is fascinating - when I made it a project to walk down every street in Winooski last year, I only found two houses that had anything going on that was remotely as interesting as the ones you've photographed so far. One was a weird upper-story addition, and one was a little jewelbox of a house that some hippie must have built at the edge of the ranch-house neighborhood. Maybe I'm not being fair - there are some typical elements that I'm now used to, which struck me as unusual when I first moved there. If I ever go insane and start a blog, I'll take photos and make commentary.

The interesting part for my town was that I could see how the city developed - mills and the downtown at the bottom of the hill at river's edge, older millworkers' houses nearby, then railroad tracks & Main Street, then up and across the hill were the richer people (including the mill owners, and the brickyard owner who built 'my' house). Then there are the skeevy areas where the city likely grew (and took on poverty from other towns) after the mills closed, then late-70's suburbia towards the town-line.

Minor correction - what you seem to call 'gable' is actually a 'dormer.' A gable is the roof profile you see in a child's drawing of a house - the triangle on top is the gable end. By contrast, a hip roof (say, 40 Maple Street) has no gables.

A dormer is something poking out from the roof that contains (usually) a window or two. Most of the dormers you photographed are "shed" dormers, with a straight, sloping roof. The first picture shows a "doghouse" dormer. The Sinking House has a hip-roof dormer.