New Quarters For Newlyweds – Synchronized Living

Widely varied topics are a way of life on this blog, and sometimes those topics come from what is happening in my life and the lives of those around me. Or, something “ripped from the headlines” as a television show used to say. The topic this week is that some of my children have advanced another square on the game board of life.

When I was young, I did things backwards. I did not get married until I had already bought a house. I don’t thing that was the way most did it then, and I am not sure about now. My children seem to have reverted to what I think of as the norm.

Do you remember some posts from last fall when I reported that I had two of my three children get married within three weeks of each other? The batch processing seems to have continued because both couples are preparing to move into their first homes. Or is it home?

When my two youngest children were young, they used to fight with each other almost constantly. They were like oil and water, with the eldest playing the role that usually belongs to the middle child – that of peacemaker. So you can imagine my surprise that as they got older, the two combatants became great friends. This really picked up once they began dating their future mates – the four young people socialized together quite a bit.

I knew that both couples were thinking about leaving their apartments and joining the ranks of home owners, but I did not know that things were moving as quickly as they actually were. I realized that thigs had escalated when Marianne and I were part of a group text telling us that they had signed contracts to buy a house. Or is it two houses.

Different cities have unique flavors when it comes to their classic housing stock. Philadelphia is known for its row houses and St. Louis is lousy with blocky brick structures with flat roofs. I doubt that these are unique to Indianapolis, but our older neighborhoods have a fairly large selection of what we identify as “doubles”. Called “duplexs” elsewhere, these are more-or-less a classic “American Four Square”, but one that was designed from the get-go as two separate living units that are mirror-images of each other, each with its own front door and its own address but all within the same structure.

There is an old neighborhood in this city that had begun as a fairly ritzy area. Indianapolis was a bunch of ethnic groups that did not really melt into the pot until after WWII, so you had Germans on the south side, Irish on the east side, and slavs on the west side. Those neighborhoods are known for their many simple houses and small Catholic parishes. The north side was for the WASPS, and in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, those were the nicest homes in the city. But Indianapolis is also a city with no natural geographic barriers, which has encouraged a steady oozing outward as the middle classes builds new neighborhoods in ever growing concentric rings of population that now stretch into the surrounding counties.

The old north side became less of a place where people wanted to live and those neighborhoods fell on hard times. By the mid 1980’s, many of the streets had more weed-choked lots that resulted from condemnations and fires than they had occupied houses, and those occupied houses that still existed were not all that nice. The place picked up a nickname based on the Old West because of the many shootings. That changed about twenty years ago when the city spearheaded a concerted effort to reclaim what was capable of reclamation and to develop the rest for new construction that maintained the look and style of the old neighborhood. The end result is that the place has really blossomed, with quite a few really pricey homes in what has once again become a desirable neighborhood.

One house that survived the great cull was an old double that seems to have spent the last twenty (or more) years as a rental. My children had discussed it and decided that maybe a double was the way to go, allowing each of them to afford more house in a better neighborhood than they might be able to swing by going alone. And so one such house has found new owners and those two couples have each found a home.

An inspection of the house revealed that she is still a solid old girl with lots of life left in her. There has been some modest, low-cost updating but it still sports original woodwork (now painted) and doors, along with a kitchen cabinet unit that dates to the place being built in . . . I’m not sure, but probably not long after 1900. Which contrasts with modern windows and vinyl siding. There will be plenty of opportunities for each couple to show the place some love with further upgrades and improvements.

I hope the situation works well for them – I am not sure how much I would have wanted to live in such close quarters with either siblings or in-laws in that stage of my life, but then again maybe it would have been a great situation. These four will get to find out. It will sure make visits handy. Or awkward if the intent is to visit only one of the couples. Maybe we will have to park a couple of blocks away and wear disguises. All that is missing from a full “Everybody Loves Raymond” lifestyle is us buying a place across the street.

The picture up top is not, by the way, the structure being discussed. The kids deserve their privacy and an actual photo or location is theirs to share, not mine. The photo is of a similar old double (later cut into four apartments) where one of these kids lived right out of college in a different old neighborhood. The basic houses, however, have a fair amount of similarity. We Americans are often accused of a having a throw-away society, so I like it when people maintain or refurbish old homes and make them relevant to a new generation.


32 thoughts on “New Quarters For Newlyweds – Synchronized Living

  1. This is good news for all! Pooling resources is quite wise and if the mailman delivers to the wrong address it won’t be like they don’t know their neighbors. The convenience factor is remarkably high. I wish them all well in this endeavor.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I move to a new city, I usually take some time and start from downtown and drive in an ever widening circle checking out all neighborhoods and generally nosing around. The four “not so good” years I spent in the Indianapolis area, I did the same and immediately identified the “Old North Side” as one of those areas I was very interested in, and similar architecture to neighborhoods I grew up in, and/or lived in, in Chicago and Milwaukee (in fact, I’m currently in a similar neighborhood in semi-retirement in Milwaukee now).

    What I sadly realized in Indianapolis, is unlike so many other areas of the country I lived in, some past permutation of city government, went through the Old North Side with a sledge hammer and not a fine toothed comb, and tore out what were probably very architecturally feasible and restorable housing and beautiful courtyard style apartments, leaving a hodge-podge of devastated blocks with gaping holes and odd vistas. I was surprised in my four years of being in Indianapolis, to find very little government concern in historical preservation, or any other programs that might have saved more of the neighborhood; hell, the city didn’t even have residential mandated recycling pickup, something Milwaukee had starting in the early 1990’s! Altho people tell me it’s a residential “option”, whatever that means. I also read a treatise about how they basically invaded the old black community neighborhoods on the near west wide, and literally “took it to the ground”, many times seizing property owned by people, without compensation, and destroying it. This overt and reactive right wing government is one of the reasons, among others, that I quickly decided that Indianapolis, and Indiana were not going to be long term living options for me. Lest you think that this is a red herring, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met people after leaving Indianapolis, who also spent some time in Indianapolis, who immediately shake their heads and say : “….you know, that town was so backwards, they didn’t even have residential recycling…” But I digress…

    I salute your offspring for helping to redeveloped the Old North Side. If the employer I went down to Indy to work at, had actually been a professional plus and had a clue as to what they were doing, i most certainly would have ended up down the block from them….or maybe Irvington or Little Flower…

    Liked by 1 person

    • They’re a little farther north from the Old North Side as strictly defined, but certainly south of Fall Creek.

      I did a little research and I guess one of the reasons the City got so demo happy in the 60s and 70s was because there were so many fires being set in the abandoned houses. It’s amazing how quickly that area went from solid middle class neighborhood to working class to slum to inner-city Detroit wannabe. But it has really exploded (in a good way) over the last 20 years.


      • You know, there were enough courtyard style apartments left in the area that it must have really been something in the day; I can imagine how beautiful it was! There were a few that were being restored when I lived there, on the far southern edge of Old North Side, adjacent to downtown, that were just going to be stunning…

        Liked by 1 person

      • The real Old North Side (below 16th Street) is indeed beautiful today, with some examples approaching $1M.

        I remember looking at the desolation in the area in the 1980s and thinking it could be a desirable area again, with all of the redevelopment we were seeing downtown. Too bad I never put my money where my mouth was.


  3. Surprised you said St. Louis architecture is “lousy”. True, St. Louis has lost A LOT of great Victorian architecture. But there are still many beautiful surviving examples, many of them with mansard roofs, showing the French influence (see picture). In fact, St. Louis was once called “The Paris of the Midwest”.

    I too bought a house prior to getting married.

    Hard to find an older home where the original interior woodwork (doors, moldings, staircases, etc.) has not been painted. Dad says, “You can do a lot of damage with a paintbrush!” I was lucky that our present house (built 1900) has all its unpainted original woodwork intact. It’s primarily oak, light tan in color.

    Good luck to all on the house purchase. Buying/selling a house is one of the most stressful things you can do. Whenever I see an infomercial telling me to “Make money buying and selling real estate”, I cringe!

    Lafayette Square

    Liked by 1 person

    • I meant “lousy” as in teeming-with. St. Louis is a really cool place for architecture.

      I agree with your father. My first house was built in the 20s, and I spent a lot of effort stripping and refinishing old woodwork. When I sold the place, the first thing the buyers did was paint it all again. Grumble.


      • Just so you can see it: All that wood is original finish, never painted. Possibly because from the 1930s or 40s to the early 90s the house had one “little old lady” owner who mostly kept things the way they were. Subsequent owners were sympathetic restorers. I imagine a lot of “modernizers” would have ripped out that built-in “church pew” bench as well.

        Victorian Entrance Hall

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      • That photo is freakin’ beautiful! Ditto, I never paint finished wood in a house! I had a small period of time I worked with some artist pals to do some paint restoration in vintage homes, and I learned something valuable. Most of your casement work was created on the spot by craftsmen. If you specified oak, you got oak. BUT, not unusual on the second floor (or maybe even third floor), to find painted interior woodwork that was original! If it wasn’t specified solid oak, or the like, your casement carpenters built your windows on the spot out of scrap wood from multiple trees used in the construction, and just oil panted them. We stripped an upstairs window one time from a house built in 1902, to prove it to the homeowner, and sure enough, the window was oak, poplar, pine, and cherry! No way to stain that to look good…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting that these houses are called Doubles in Indianapolis. In Philadelphia we called them “Twins” – and I’ve never known another region to refer to them as anything besides duplexes. When I was a kid, my folks lived in a 1960s-era twin that was a “blocky brick structure with a flat roof”… St. Louis didn’t have a monopoly on such unimaginative architecture.

    My brother-in-law grew up in a 19th century twin where the two halves shared a common, un-separated attic. From what I understand, as a kid, he enjoyed going up into the attic, and then peering down into the neighbors’ house.

    I’m glad your kids found a housing solution that works so well for them. For me, I think my head would explode if I lived that close to my sister, but in your kids’ case, I think they’ve creatively found a great place to live. I hope the Double here brings them years of happiness!


    • My kids’ double was built with a door that connected the two halves of the attic, but it has been boarded closed.

      The happiness is being delayed a bit after a possibly-concealed upstairs plumbing leak has shown itself. The adventures begin.

      I did some research in old city directories and the place seems to date to around 1907. The Ford Motor Company made fewer than 15,000 cars in 1907, which was the year before the Model T came along. It was a completely different world.


      • I feel for your kids regarding the plumbing leak. When we bought our current house 7 years ago, we had a major maintenance problem crop up within days of closing on the house. I felt horrible, and the regret that hounded me made for some pretty dismal days. Fortunately, since then, my relationship with our house has improved.

        Regarding research, another fun aspect is to look in old Census records. Most big cities had modern-style street addresses by the early 20th century, so one can often figure out who lived in a particular house in previous decades. Census records are kept confidential for 72 years, so as of now, all records from 1950 on back are publicly available. It’s neat stuff for old house owners who have an interest in history.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The old RL Polk directories listed name and occupation for each resident. One side of this house had a longtime resident or owner who was listed as a tavern owner around 1914. A decade later, after prohibition was in effect, he was in the soft drink business. 🙂


      • Did some research for a pal about a year ago, to find a bar his uncles used to own. The local library had “reverse directories” i.e. instead of looking for a name and getting an address, you could look up by addresses and get a name and occupation. Invaluable. The library on

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, if they can get along well enough to negotiate the purchase then that’s a good first step. I wouldn’t have wanted to live next door to either of my siblings as a newlywed, and I still wouldn’t.
    My own kids (23 and 20) occasionally muse about how they might afford accommodation, maybe I’ll suggest this to them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s an idea that I might never have thought of. I had always assumed that those were always bought as a single building and either shared by owners or with half rented out, but this was subdivided into two separated pieces of real estate a few years ago.


      • When I started Blogging, I tried to confine family stories to my childhood when many characters were deceased but when I got desperate for material, I took some chances with recent material. Luckily, few friends and family read my posts!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Our daughter and her husband bought a house and discovered some interesting details. A prominent “stained glass” window (advertised that way in the sale) was not stained glass at all, but one of those cheap coverings you put over plain glass. The master bath was painted… wallpaper. Who does that? Meanwhile my son is trying to buy his first house in Plano, TX and competing with a hot market of flippers and investors. The 1970s brick ranchers in the more desirable neighborhoods are selling almost as soon as they’re listing. A full-price offer will be a given; I just hope he doesn’t have to give the sellers too many more concessions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our market has cooled a bit but is not slow. Flippers and investors are a pox. Beyond bidding prices up, they strip the character out of every cool old house they touch.


  7. How nice – that’s a great concept JP. They’re lucky you live fairly close so if they decided to travel, or even go out of town a few days, you or Marianne are able to stop by, collect the mail and check on things. So now they can travel independently (as couples) and not worry about the house. That is a problem I would have should I resume traveling as I did in the 70s and 80s … no one here to take care of the house, look in, check things out. Also, the burden of upkeep is not left solely to one couple and they split expenses. I’ve never had siblings, so of course to me it sounds like a win-win situation. I liked your line “batch processing” as to the wedding and now living accommodations. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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