Sunday, December 20, 2009

First major snow of the winter

not much really, just 4" in front of my home. Ed Hanna said it could be anywhere from 4"-8" or more, so as it usually goes, winter in the Valley is unpredicable.

so, why is this decidedly un-ugly home featured on this page?

go back 2 posts and see if it looks familiar...

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

there must've been a sale...

what else could explain the undersized windows on the home on the right? You'll ntice the white house has the typical 3 tall window layout on the 2nd floor, whereas the blue house was 'renovated' with windows completely out of proportion to the height of the house.

Proportion is very important on an old house, because the ceilings are so tall you cannot use new home-scaled doors and windows. So, while this home might not necessarily be 'ugly', it is funny looking.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Negativity and whatnot

So at least twice now I've been told my blog is 'negative'.

"why don't you focus on the nice homes of Easton?"
"you're perpetuating a negative view of the city"

Well, whatever.

Lots of people know there is something, there are somethingS, wrong with our little city. But where to start? You can talk to people who have lived here for years about the architecture, the glorious former mansions, the style long lost, and they look at you like you have two heads. Sometimes you get the opportunity to 'school' someone on the gem of a home they just bought, how they should strip the paint off the banister or save the original double hung windows, and in that moment, they suddenly 'get it'.

The purpose of this blog is to get more people to 'get it'. Get the coolness of a tall entry door w/ a transom above it. Get the look of bead board paneling. Understand cast brass hinges, 3 or more on a door. Understand the need to preserve, rather than renovate.

I want to draw attention to the gems hidden under the tin. The stately grandeur that was unceremoniously cut up into so many cramped cell like apartments. One of my inspirations is from Old House journal magazine. They have a feature called 'remuddled' (instead of remodeled) where they 'feature' a less-than-ideal old home.

If some think this is negative, well, you're being too simple and can't see beyond your nose. There is much to be gained by talking about the things some would rather not. There is more value in this town than just cheap properties for rent. People need to reside here, take pride in ownership, notice what is wrong and do something about it.

This is one of the ways I'm doing something about it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

twins, tall and skinny

This is a weird pair; entrances on the 2nd floor (presumably), each not more than 8ft wide, w/ rickity staircases. I'm going to say it actually was one house to begin with, as this neighborhood doesn't have any other twins built this narrow. Take a look at the roofline, it looks like one house.

Either way, they are ugly.

(P.S. sorry about the low quality photo. I used my phone as I was walking)

Friday, November 20, 2009

One is the loneliest number

Easton sure has lots of ugly utility poles. This one is not even one of the worst; future posts may explore the best of the worst leaning, cracked, overloaded poles in the city.
But for now, take a gander at this one. If all goes as planned, it will soon be festooned with a proper cobrahead streetlamp! This pole sits at the confluence of the humble thoroughfare known as Sassafrass St. and N7th St. Being as it's an intersection, the powers-that-be have finally agreed that there IS in fact, suppoosed to be a streetlamp there.
I would like to give a grateful shout out to Mayor Panto, Councilwoman Elinore Warner, and Public Works dude Dave Hopkins for making this happen.
I hope to update this post soon with the AFTER photo. It's all up to Met-Ed now.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Twin horror show

This house is ugly enough without being 'decorated' for oct 31st.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Contrasting dormers

I've been thinking about this for awhile, doing a photo study of how people in twins maintain/renovate their homes. Living in a twin myself, and my neighbor at this moment installing a new front door, this is something I have some ideas on.
Dormers on twins are a place where people might cut corners. Like this one. the house on the left has the original ornate setup, the middle window flanked by very narrow sidelights. Stylish, but to replace today would most likely be quite pricey.

The home on the left didn't worry about that; when it got sided, the whole thing was just replaced with a stock window. On its own, it might not be noticed, but in cotrast to its mirror twin next door, well, its like gravy and ice cream.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Warren and spring garden

The picture really makes this home look better than it is. The chalky lime siding is hideous and unlike anything else this side of Spanish Harlem. Of course the porch roof is long gone, and it is generally unadorned as are so many of the houses we've exposed. To be fair, the property is kept up, though plain.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

NOT ugly, but a real nice home

In response to a post on the 'neighbors of Easton' blog, I am posting a current picture of the gorgeous home at 14th and Washington. Some might think it's overgrown, but the owner really takes pride in his home and takes care of it.
This also signals a start of something I will do from time to time: post pictures of the nicest homes of Easton, besides the major ugly.

close up of 7th st saltbox

The other day I posted a picture of this ugly box on N 7th. It didn't really show off the full extent of how deteriorated it truly is.
This house is NOT abandoned; people live here.
I really am not discriminating against those of little means. The shame here is that someone is MAKING MONEY on this property! There is a RESPONSIBILITY that comes with home ownership and/or being a landlord.
Whoever owns this is on my wall of shame.

more 7th St ugly

A simple home that has seen better days. Small narrow city houses like this were never fancy, but pretty well build, and have held up well for the last 100-130 years, maybe more. This one is noteworthy becasue it's a single in a sea of ugly rowhomes. Still, it has a period incorrect front door and a 'just slap it up there' overhang. It probably used to have a full width overhang w/ carved columns.

Prime corner near Cottingham

This house is so odd, it might have ALWAYS been ugly. But the 70s reno on the 1st floor and filthy siding doesn't help, either. Prime corner by a neighborhood playground.
UPDATE: As one of my faithful followers pointed out, this is/was infact, a church of some sort on the 1st floor. It has a side entrance not visible in the photo. However, it looks to be abandoned. The front door shown here, judging by the single mailbox and single dish, seems to be a single rental(for the present at least).

Warren and Church

Being on an alleyway, this home has a few strikes against it already. This one is actually at the corner of two alleys. It's a shame, really, because the house itself is a good size and has lots of potential.
Warren St, although a park-one-side-only street, has a number of nice homes (this isn't one of them). the west side of the street has a few that have recently been painted, and one home in the middle of the block even has a spacious side yard. My feeling is that is the best way to improve a neighborhood: lead by example, and (hopefully) the rest will (eventually) follow.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

big white box on Spring Garden

This is an example of a contractor working as he goes, no plan at all. This 'house' has at least 4 apartments in it, judging from the electrical meters. It's hard to tell how it might have originally looked, but the rear addition and pop up at the rear is obviously a latecomer to the party.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just set up myblackberry for my blog. This should be fu n.

okay, UPDATE: I'm not ready to use my blackberry. I've got to get up to speed posting w/ it using the web, not SMS. texting is limited, but the data plan isn't.
more pictures coming soon, really!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

my ugly bicycle

Well, it's not really 'ugly', but it's a little different. And since I don't have a blog for my hobbies, it goes here!
It's a Surly Pacer frameset, with a mix of Campagnolo Veloce, some Shimano Deore stuff, Salsa Delgado X rims, Brooks B17, Nitto Moustache bars, Salsa stem, & vintage Shimano 600 brake levers. Oh yeah, and a SUNTOUR front deraileur!
The bracket on the setpost is for my daughter's trailer bike.
The front and rear bags have been with me a long time. The rear one is a genuine Rhode Gear bag, back when they were from Rhode Island (get it?) before Bell bought them out. The front bag is a neat little Specialized expanding bag.
I'll get back to the ugly houses soon. Been busy cleaning up home projects before the winter comes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

N 7th St saltbox

I'd love to know the history of this house. It's built right to the sidewalk, it doesn't match the neighborhood; really, who would put this thing here?
Anyone who resides in this building would be worried about their security. The front door opens RIGHT on the sidewalk, as well as the flimsly picture window.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Landlord/Tenant dispute gets the police called

It's not unusual for some street noise to be present in the early evening, what with people getting picked up, dropped off, kids playing, etc. But we noticed a distinct arguement taking place yesterday. One of our neighbors recently vacated an apartment only to move into a house across the street. They were having trouble with the landlord (I'm not calling anyone out like Obama does, this isn't that kind of blog).
Well, the neighbor had a chance it seems to try to settle a disagreement with his former landlord. All I could here was it had to do with money owed (duh).
My point in bringing this up is, this landlord is pretty much a dirtbag. I've seen him around infrequently and seen his truck at some other disreputable places in Easton. He only comes around when he is changing tenants, which has been happening quite a bit. I'm not overetimating that there has probably been 20 differnt tenants in that buiding in the last 10 years. They ALL complain about him.
And that's how it goes. Landlords only keep the place (barely) up to code, and rent to the lowest common denominator. And it's getting worse, because whenever a house goes on the market in the West Ward, it gets bought by someone to rent out. There is no pride in ownership, or sense of community.
I've got another new neighbor also, but that's another subject. They leave the windows open when they fight. Lets see how long THEY last...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New money, new Easton web site

Slick looking site, it's nice, no, ESSENTIAL to have a great site for a small town city. uglyeaston provides a nice honest counterpoint, though, no?
Seriously, I love this little town. The purpose of the blog is not to denigrate, but rather make an honest, non-political appraisal of where we're at. How else can you fix what's wrong if you don't see waht's wrong?
I think I'll need to get to a City Counsel meeting here before long. I still want a streetlight.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

West Ward gets a cool mil

So, Mayor Panto has announced that they are pouring/wasting/directing $1million to perform 'green' rehabs. here's the Morning Call link:,0,6791479.story

Great news, if it actually amounts to anything appreciable. Really, if you live in the West Ward (I really do HATE that designation, reminds me of the lower 9Th of New Orleans) you KNOW how much work would need to be done to improve the area. And anyone who pays have a bit of attention knows how much opportunity for graft and waste exists with such a govt program (weed & seed, anyone?)
There will be no fixing of what ails the WW until they fix the CORE issues:
1. absentee landlords
2. more rentals than owner-occupied housing
3. too many residents per block
4. apathy
5. ignorance

First off, absentee landlords. I'm sure there are some responsible landlords, but you wouldn't know it from the properties around here. One house across the street moves a new tenant in every few months; they all complain about the landlord.
Second, when you have more rentals than owners, there is no pride in ownership. Now, many renters do have enough self respect to take care of the property, but if you're just renting a run down clapped out apartment for $400/mo, you ain't going to care about how it looks.
That leads us to the 3rd, that being too many people! These neighborhoods were here before cars. The streets are small, the houses close together. So, if you stick 2 families in a house each with 3 drivers, and the property is only 21 feet wide, well, you're going to run out of room.
But, does anyone really care? Does anyone think about these problems? That's points 4 and 5. People that rent don't care about the community; they have no vested interest in the area or property. If they don't like it, they just move on.

OK, rant off.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

been busy, made some time today

Perhaps one day, someone or many will follow this blog (or maybe it's just all about me). But for now, I have plenty of 'homes' to show you! This one is on Ferry St. I really don't know where to start; I mean, from the misguided dormer expansion to the never been maintained window trim, to the mismatched handrail, this 'home' screams 'income property'.
A building like this in Easton may very well be cut up into 2, perhaps 3, units. The landlord most likely lives out of state, or if he/she IS local, they never come by. Really, how can you still have any self respect by renting something like this?
I took a few more pictures of other victims, but i will post sometime later.

Monday, July 13, 2009

twin on Washington

You'll have to pardon the quality of the image (I used my phone instead of my camera), but I don't even think a better resolution would improve the looks of this one.
This is a neglected twin up on Washington St. The aluminum siding is (mostly) white; the blue second floor on the right house is the original color, having been sprayed white (I guess they ran out of paint and figured, "pfft, who cares?")
At least it's all coordinated. The '60's-era aluminum awning replaces what was once surely a wooded setup complete with turned posts, maybe even full width. Fake shutters (on the left, at least) complete the 'look'.
I'm still new to this blogging, and I'm coming up with new thoughts and ideas on what place it will serve me, and eventually/hopefully some followers. I hope to post a new feature at least once a month, maybe more frequently. Thre are SO many building I want to include, I just need to get out there and get the photos!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Big Brown

OK, to start this off, check THIS out. This house is HUGE. Huge and ugly. Click on the picture to get a blown up view, you can see the details in all their offensive glory. It has everything: old aluminum siding, '70's era brown and tan paint, busted and rotted railings and porch posts and most all vintage detailing either lost or damaged. But amazingly, it still has its original doors. The left entranceway still has the transom over the door, but on the right? Who knows, it might be under the siding.
notice the plain unadorned windows; in times past, you can imagine Victorian flourishes, large sills and carved trim. the mind reels imagining this homes' glory in times past.
The 3rd floor dormers give a clue of what is missing. They are not wood, but pressed tin. Very cool, but unadorned as they are, they are lost in the mess.
I've seen the inside of one of the apartments in this building. the parque oak floors were recently refinished, there are intact pocket doors even. But the new owners have so far neglected to refurbish the exterior. I guess the lure of easy rental money is too hard to resist.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the purpose of this blog

I have been living in the tiny hamlet/city of Easton PA for 14 years or so. we reside in a wonderful Victorian duplex/townhome/half a double (I guess whatever you call it depends on how much it's worth). we bought it REAL cheap. it somehow had avoided the fate of so many formerly beautiful homes in Easton, that of being uncerimoniously chopped and hacked up into apartments, turning from proud homes of distingush to flop houses.
Easton, like so many towns and cities across the US has seen its share of ups and downs. I've always had more than a passing interest in the history of different areas; why they wind up like they are, where they used to be, what hope for restoration and what not.
the purpose, then, of this blog is to, in no certain order or rhyme or reason, to photographically editorialize about what I find to be some of the more visually appaling examples of historically disrespectful treatment of homes in the area. there will be many examples of tin houses (I HATE aluminum siding!), hack jobs, ill maintained homes and the like.
I am not a historian, nor an expert on the history of Easton. I just hope to draw a circle around embarrassments to help people to appreciate what once was and might be again.
the rain has stopped, so I hope to have some pictures up soon.