I wonder if there is anyone alive outside the Blumenau family who remembers anything about the interior of 1107 Hope Street.
(Some obligatory context for anyone who came in late: That was my grandparents’ old home in the Springdale neighborhood of Stamford, Connecticut, from the early 1940s to the mid-1980s.)
1107 Hope was torn down more than 25 years ago, along with many of its neighbors, to make way for a row of condos.
So anyone who might remember what it looked like inside is probably starting to get up in age. Or, to put it more kindly, any such person has had a lot of other memories and experiences that might have crowded it out in the ensuing quarter-century.
Most likely, some of my great-grandma’s piano students from decades ago might recall their visits to 1107 Hope. I heard some time ago from one former student from the late 1960s who still had clear memories of my family and their home.
In the grand sweep of things, it doesn’t mean much whether anyone else remembers the house. But when a place is important to you, you like to think it might have made an impression on someone else, even if you’ll never meet that person.
I doubt the guy who visited on Sept. 14, 1970, remembers the place, if he’s still alive.
His civic employment must have required him to visit homes all over the city. And if any stuck in his mind, they were probably the mansions in the wealthy parts of town, not my grandparents’ humble blue house.
I wonder what the assessed value of the home was in 1970, and how much my grandparents paid in annual taxes.
I doubt the city of Stamford still has that record on file. I bet the property files for 1107 Hope Street went into the trash when the house was torn down. Just as well; no point in saving the records for a property that no longer exists.
I’ve already set down specific memories of different parts of the house over the past 17 months of writing this blog.
This week, to get it out of my head and down into print, I’m going to write down a room-by-room walking tour of 1107 Hope Street from memory, throwing in pictures wherever I can find them.
That might not sound interesting to the average non-Blumenau reader, so feel free to go get some tacos if you want. Come back next Monday, won’t you?
For everyone else, take a moment to look at the picture above. We’re gonna meet on the front porch, and enter through the green-painted front door visible in the picture. (The door had an American flag sticker and a Stamford Little League sticker stuck to the glass by the early 1980s, if memory serves.)
We pass like wraiths through the front door and into the living room. To the right are stairs up, covered in some sort of nubbly dark vinyl, with a cuckoo clock at the base of the stairs.
But we’re going into the living room. From left to right, looking around the perimeter of the room, we see an armchair; some wall-mounted bookshelves; a small wooden table laden with Time magazines; a matching armchair; a TV set; some permanently drawn curtains; an upright piano; and a couch.
We pass through a doorway and into the dining room.
At left is a low-slung wooden cabinet, presumably filled with fancy dishes, and topped by various knickknacks including a crystal bowl full of hard candy. At the rear of the room are my grandfather’s desk, at far left, and a single bed I do not remember anyone ever sleeping on. (I remember putting a hole in the bedspread once with a pair of scissors.)
Following around the edge of the room, we see a white exercise bike (yup — they had to put it somewhere); a china cabinet (no, that was where the good dishes lived); a second door out to the front porch; and the door to the basement. Of course, there was a family-sized table right in the middle of the room, host to countless holiday dinners.
So yeah. See that door behind Aunt Elaine? That went into the kitchen. I don’t remember much about that room but I’ll give it my best.
From left to right you had various cabinets along the near wall; the stove and dishwasher along the back wall, as pictured in this previous post; the sink and kitchen table along the wall nearest the driveway; then the entrance to a tiny bathroom memorialized in this post; an old round-bellied fridge; and an exit onto the back steps that led out to the driveway and back yard. I think my grandpa’s calendar usually hung near that back door, as well.
We’ll step back into the dining room and pretend to go downstairs to the basement. The basement at 1107 Hope Street always creeped me out — it was dank and dirt-floored and shallow-roofed and stone-walled and generally funky in a way that did not appeal to Young Me.
So we’ll just say there was a workbench down there, and probably a bunch of cans of paint, and maybe an even older fridge than the one in the kitchen, not to mention one of those hatchways leading out into the backyard. And then we’ll scoot back upstairs into the dining room.
So we walk back through the dining room, into the living room and to that set of stairs we saw a couple hundred words ago. We take them up, holding the dark heavy wooden railing. In the wall on the right-hand side of the stairs is a colorful stained-glass window — nothing wild, just nine panes of differently colored glass that add an artistic touch to what is otherwise a fairly plain house.
First door to the right at the top of the stairs is the painting studio that was repurposed as a spare bedroom when my family visited, with a cot set up across from the single bed that was always there. I got the cot; my older brother got the bed.
I remember a utilitarian metal work table that held my grandpa’s painting supplies; an easel moved out of harm’s way; a cabinet or two; and a magazine rack that held an old catalog of plastic models that I always found fascinating.
Also on the second floor (from left to right, if you’re standing at the top of the stairs again) were the doors to my great-grandma’s bedroom; the main bathroom of the house, the only one with a shower or bathtub; and then my grandparents’ room, which had a small walk-in closet that impressed me more than it should have.
Pix of the second floor seem to be fairly rare, and I didn’t go into other people’s rooms very often, so my memories of the other rooms are limited. I remember my grandparents had separate single beds. And I remember the smells of Irish Spring or Ivory soap in the bathroom, which I recall as being a fairly bright-seeming room.
We’ve almost seen the whole house but there’s one more stop to make. Next to my grandparents’ bedroom is the leftmost door at the top of the stairs — the one to the attic.
Now, the attic at 1107 Hope Street was not some dusty forgotten storage room. It had been my dad’s bedroom growing up. It was where my grandparents kept the various games and toys they reserved for us kids. And it was where my grandpa kept the old newspapers and magazines I enjoyed pawing through. So it was a pretty regular stop for me whenever we visited.
I remember some funky old linoleum that had illustrations of nursery rhymes on it; and creaks and squeaks; and all kinds of cabinets with plastic sheeting drawn across them.
And that was 1107 Hope Street. It probably didn’t take much more time to walk through the place than it did to read about it.
Like the city assessor or my great-grandma’s piano students, you don’t remember it in person. But now you know more about it.