Wednesday, May 18, 2016

...the story of the black house...

 “I wrote about real people and real circumstances and real neighborhoods. There was no crypt or castles or H.P. Lovecraft-type environments. They were just about normal people who had something bizarre happening
to them in the neighborhood.”
~Richard Matheson 

I attended the university where I am now employed as a faculty member. It was a Master of Arts program. This was back in 1998. I remember the time I first entered 1212 6th Street. It was a bet with my friend and our boyfriends that there is more inside beauty in the world than exterior beauty. We meant people but it applied to this home as well. 

The house was somewhat renovated with decent carpeting and exposed brick. It was large and cheap even back then. I remember that my rent was $850. Back then, we called it the “peach crack house” because that is a bit what it looked like—a rundown house that had once been painted a peachy color. I searched for an old picture thinking that I had scanned it but I am not at home so you’ll have to imagine for now a sad old house. A few years back, the house was painted this grey color. I’m guessing that the roof still leaks but hey, it looks so much better. It’s one of those comforting sights from the shuttle bus. I see the place I once lived; I remember the guy I dated at that time. We were dysfunctional and awesome and various ways. I remember mostly that we had fun together. I remember the friends who ended up moving in with me. For a while, the third bedroom seemed to be on rotation. Every one of our cars was broken into. There was even an attempted break in of the house but the young teens, whom I ended up confronting because I worried they would break my door, had no idea I lived with a 110 lb. Doberman named Aslan. Unlike his namesake, he only appeared tough when he was protecting his momma.

Of course, I lived in this place many, many moons ago. It looks quite different now just as the rest of the neighborhood. Gentrification has swept through the area with increased property values and the displacement of lower-income families and small businesses. In all of my moves, moving into 1212 was the only time that a neighbor ever brought me flowers. She was an older African-American woman who walked with a slight limp most likely due to her size, just as my maternal grandmother did. I remember those flowers; they were picked from her own yard. They were slightly wilted but they were the most perfect flowers I had ever seen.

Recently walking from campus to the train station, I passed this house just a few blocks down from 1212. It once was a mediocre looking brick house. Now with a touch of black paint, it looks amazing. Of course, that isn’t all that has been done. The entire home has had its soul cut out and remodeled to accommodate two overpriced condos.  One half of the home sold for the asking price of $768,000; the other half for a more modest $698,000 or at least this is how it is posted on Zillow. The pre-gutted home can be found here

Initially I was so taken with the black on black in the middle of what once was seen as a drab street that I forgot what it means to stand out. 

Oftentimes, we gothy girls stand out even when we do not plan to or do not want to. What does it mean to blend? What does it mean to stand out among a crowd? What happens when your guts are torn out so that you become different? I guess we’ve all been there at some time or another.

I cannot help but wonder if the new owners of overly pricey condos will receive flowers from their neighbors; I’m assuming that they will not.


  1. The window arrangement on the formerly peach, now gray, crack house makes the house look as if it has lost an eye. I am also drawn to the black on black ... The proportions of the place are super. Not super enough to spend that kind of money. I knew DC real estate was pricy, but I had no idea that something so seemingly modest would go for so much.

  2. I love hearing people's memories! I love nostalgia! It's sad that the outside of this building is so chic but it's gutted inside. Our real estate market is a huge unaffordable mess, too!

  3. It's a stunning home, I love the black brick work. I do like American architecture, and especially, love the space and bathroom style look amazing.

  4. I really love that black house. It's cool to stand out from time to time, but sometimes it's nice to blend in or fade into the background. Which often happens when dressed in black or dark colours.