A Row House Summer

The weather is warming up and bringing row house dwellers everywhere out of their homes to hang out on their stoops and porches. Besides promoting the wonderful architecture of the row house, we want to share how wonderful it is to live attached to your neighbors. It is unlikely these days that I will be able to get into my house without stopping to say hello to at least one neighbor. During the weekends, our children will play long into the evening until we can’t ignore our rumbling stomachs and have to turn in for dinner. Occasionally, there will be an impromptu barbeque or pizza night at an obliging neighbor’s house. And of course, the time is nearing for our annual block party. These are the months I most love living in a row in the city.

There is more to a row house than just the house. I find that the people who live in row houses seem to be a little more willing to be neighborly. Private types would not want to be so close to other people. They would want their four walls and surrounding property. But people who are willing to live attached to one another seem to be more willing to be connected to their neighbors and communities. You have a front seat to their lives as they do to yours. I think when you have two walls in common, it leads to a closeness. It’s not a hard and fast rule – a few of our neighbors do manage to be very private and we try to respect that – but it’s an interesting observation.

Another issue that has caught our attention is the need for preservation. Historic homes are often protected but newer homes, those from the early to mid-20th Century, also need protecting. Even historic homes are at risk if the neighborhoods in which they are located don’t have adequate zoning and construction regulations. Too often, row houses are overlooked because they represent ordinary, middle-class housing. They don’t have the cache to merit enough attention. Row houses, which are great for sustainable city dwelling, are knocked down so that developers can build multi-family homes and apartment buildings which lead to over-crowding and over-development. It’s important that there be a balance of different kinds of housing to meet many residents’ needs and to ensure neighborhoods maintain a high quality of life that comes from a strong community. But in order to do this, people must protect the housing that already exists. We’re devoted, as ever, to promoting and protecting the row house and hope that it continues to have a strong representation in the urban landscape.

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