Historical Fun | Urban Living

Historical Fun

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Every once in a while, I come upon something exceptionally groovy in a house I'm listing or showing. I'm not talking about Victorian soaking tubs or soft-close drawers in the kitchen, but a piece of history or archeology. It's fun to see evidence of 100-year-old wallpaper in an old home that needs an update. Peeling paper reveals different eras, colors and patterns.

There's a property listed by Angie Nelden on 1354 E. Stratford Ave. in Sugar House. It's a wowza to drive by (at $999,999, it should be). I've always watched that house—and in my 33 years in business, it's never been for sale. I've had dreams about living there. The curb appeal of red sandstone, a tiled roof and a huge sitting porch on half an acre is enough to woo any buyer into the front door. The home, which was built in 1910, is mostly in original condition. One surprise is an unpainted brick upstairs with "S4 Oct. 13, 1929," scrawled on it in pencil.

The story is hilarious. Four 12-year-old girls lived in the neighborhood on what was then a dirt road. Betty Burton, Mary Brown, Ruthie Fisher and Margaret Naegle were thick as thieves and decided one fateful day to become blood sisters. They pricked their fingers and named their little group "the S4" and vowed never to tell a soul what the S stood for. They climbed upstairs and wrote on a brick by the chimney in Mary's house and later they wrote a little ditty about themselves. The brick was never painted and over the years many folks speculated what the writing meant. But the girls had vowed to never tell anyone until they were 80. The "Great Disclosure" party was held in 1996 when they finally fessed up to a crowd of over 100 friends and family members. There are now memorial pages framed around the brick for the new owners to keep in perpetuity. They were "the Stripelets Four!"

I closed escrow on a home in lower Marmalade last week and it also had a bit of history. The owner had found a postcard inside a wall, addressed and posted to an occupant of the house at 300 North. Back in 1906, 400 North was known as 300 North. On the card, the writer told her friend that she would be getting out of quarantine within a few days and that it had been hard but the candy her friend had sent her was much appreciated. The writer could have been quarantined for flu, smallpox or TB. The homeowner framed the card with coins found in the house from the same era, and it was given to me to pass on to the new owner. It made the coolest housewarming gift.

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