Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

Row of Houses, South Side Slopes

2018–2026 South 18th Street
Composite of two photographs from a Canon PowerShot SX150 IS.

This is the edge of the section locals call Billy Buck Hill, the bulge in the Slopes enclosed by a long loop of South 18th Street. These houses along South 18th Street were built shortly before 1910, according to old maps; they are a little grander than some of their neighbors behind them, and they are good exercises in urban archaeology. Not one of them is in original condition, but we can probably reconstruct what they looked like when they were new by comparing the houses.

First, four out of the five share a blank spot in the wall above the front door that seems unusual. You would expect a window there. The fifth has a window, though it’s an odd oval shape. Nevertheless, that oval window appears to be original. We can tell nothing from the third and fourth houses in the row, which have had their entire fronts replaced with fake stone, but a close look at the first and second houses (enlarge the picture to examine them) shows that the bricks in the front walls have been filled in just where such a window would be, and in a roughly oval shape.

That projecting second-floor window on the fifth house is also unusual, but here old Pa Pitt is inclined to say it is probably not original. It looks like a local contractor’s more modern renovation. The second house is probably the only one that preserves the original shapes of its windows upstairs and downstairs, although the windows themselves have been replaced.

All the dormers have been renovated in various ways, but the ones on the first and fifth houses may be closest to what all the dormers originally looked like.

The first and fifth houses also preserve their original chimneys. Two of the others have lost their tops, and the chimney on the third house has been rebuilt from the same stone substitute that was used for the front.

Three of the houses have aluminum awnings. The ones on the second and third houses are genuine Kool-Vent.

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