Only cookie cutter here is in a kitchen drawer

Lace up your shoes and don a jacket.

Today we’re hitting Tacoma’s historic North Slope again. No cookie-cutter homes here. After the last tour, some of you cried out for more so let’s get rollin’!

Look at that leaded glass! (not uncommon in these parts):

Beautiful. And one reason why as much as I love looking, I wouldn’t necessarily want to have a home in this area.

It’s a prison.

Due to the district’s historic status, strict rules, regulations and controls abound. Even the slightest modification requires evaluation, review and permission from city bodies X, Y and Z (with the usual risks of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing). Matter of fact, a female resident and city are in a newsmaking brouhaha over windows replacements. Good luck to her!

So no thanks. Me likee to look. No likee to buy.

Onward to the spooky house …

Approaching from the alley side, I’m captivated by the shapes, textures and shingled roof:

and its garage/back shed screams shoot me:

Intrigued by its spooky and tired condition and curious whether it’s occupied, I venture to the front, cautiously cross the porch to find a rundown exterior, windows shuttered by blinds, a missing doorbell and assorted faded decals on the door’s glass pane past the screen door I open; among them is a washed-out penned note to the effect of “someone lives here, knock.” I wonder. Stone-cold silence. It looks unoccupied.

Stepping back, I look up toward the second story. In the high window a small, round lighted desk lamp is visible. The only sign of life. I skulk away softly, casting upward glances over my shoulder …

This next shot … just as I’m readying the camera, an older woman emerges for her mail.
Ever sensitive to possible unease or suspicion of residents spotting a camera pointed at their homes, I quickly offer the architectural explanation.

She waves it off and quips, “Long as I’m not in the picture …”

For all the walking I’ve done in this neighborhood, I’ve never seen a style reminiscent of a sunny warm climate.

Sticks out like a sore thumb in these drizzly gray environs. A sore good thumb. So I march up, knock on the door and ask whether they’ve got a room to rent. Not really. But I can’t deny the impulse is there!

Another rarity, the Asian look:

The dragon red’s a bit washed out by a passing burst of sunlight. And yes, there’s a hanging paper lantern behind a bush!

The diversity of homes makes a North End tour such the delight.

One moment you might be looking at an ornate mansion with a fascinating history:

And the next moment, beside it a blue bungalow … a very blue bungalow:

And if you’ve got a spare $160,000 or so to drop, this place is for sale. Bring your credit rating and a can of paint:


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Erin Michel
    Mar 21, 2011 @ 19:47:13

    A lot of these look like homes in downtown Santa Cruz. I WISH there was a house for sale for $160,000 here, though. That’d be the price to buy a junior studio in a crappy building.

    Super cool roof on the one! I’ve never seen anything like that.


  2. allycatadventures
    Mar 21, 2011 @ 22:17:41

    @Erin – Yeah, some of the local architecture is similar to the Bay Area’s. Lord knows, however, that there’s no similarity in prices! California’s prices are I-N-S-A-N-E!


  3. bizemom
    Mar 22, 2011 @ 19:43:55

    Very cool. I love the ones that look like thatched roofs.


  4. Wild_Bill
    Mar 22, 2011 @ 19:59:20

    I really liked the great variety of architecture here. The fact theat so many of these are still standing and looking so wonderful is just grand. I do think that historic preservation can be a little overbearing, but I understand the necessity of preserving the past. I’m thinking homes are a little more pricey in your area if they are getting $160,000 for the red one at the end. It looks like it will make a good home for someone.


    • allycatadventures
      Mar 22, 2011 @ 22:43:05

      @WildBill – Actually $160,000’s cheap. Go 50 miles to the north to (snotty stuck-up) Seattle and the price would be 2X or more. Tacoma has the distinction of being passionate about and preserving of its history and invested in creating and recreating its future. The juxtaposition is a striking and fascinating phenomenon and one unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere (and a long list of Elsewheres it is too).


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