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July 2011 Historic Southwood Park Award Homes Announced

July 1, 2011

Here are the July 2011 Historic Southwood Park Award Homes!

Matt and Michelle Liepold are the proud homeowners of 4629 Beaver Avenue.
Despite Matt’s insistence that Michelle would proudly display the award sign
because of all of her hard work, neighbors have noticed both Matt and Michelle’s
labor in making their home an Award Home.

They have enlarged and maintained their perennial beds. The Liepolds have also added flowerboxes to
their home. They have expanded their deck and added a deck arbor.

When we asked why he likes living in Southwood Park, Matt replied that he likes the
character of historic homes and the “old-fashioned” neighborly community. The
hard work the Liepolds have done to their home has definitely added to our
Southwood Park neighborly community.

Our other Award Home for July is 4202 Tacoma Avenue, the home of Creager and Joan Smith. They have put an incredible amount of work into their home this year. We asked Creager to write some of the things they have done, and what we got back was really a great example of the thought and planning that can go into a outdoors makeover:

“When we bought the house in 2007 we had three large oak trees that were a big part of the character of the property. In May 2010 we were surprised when one of the large oaks in the front yard unexpectedly toppled over, leaving quite a mess and a large hole in the front yard. We found that it was very rotten on the inside. A few months later we realized the single oak in the back yard was dying. We consulted with an arborist in the fall of 2010 and found that the remaining oak tree in the front yard was sound, but it was declining.

This spring Joan and I decided to remove the dead and dying oak trees and start over with new trees. We knew that removal of the
tree in the rear would damage the already deteriorated driveway so we decided to do concrete replacement work. When we really looked at the garage and driveway concrete we realized that the concrete floor and foundation of the garage were so deteriorated that it all needed to be redone.

The work that we decided to do mushroomed to such a degree that it’s easiest to provide a list of the work so far in 2011.

Front yard:

  • Two oak trees removed; a total of five new trees were planted on the property (2 oaks, two redbuds, and a honeylocust). A dead Rose of Sharon bush was also removed.
  • The front yard was redone by grinding the old tree stumps and filling the holes with new topsoil.
  • We took advantage of the SWP tree program to get two large oaks planted. We also planted two lilac bushes and a redbud tree in the front.
  • We adjusted the shape and placement of the landscape beds to compensate for the new tree locations and reinstalled a stone border.
  • The multitude of mulch from grinding the oak stumps was all used on the property in the landscaping beds.
  • Lastly, new grass seed is starting to grow where holes were filled due to damage from the tree removal.

Garage, driveway, and rear:

  • Removed the dead oak tree from rear—that caused destruction of parts of the privacy fence and the driveway. Planted a new honeylocust tree within the rear yard/patio to replace the oak.
  • The garage was supported in place and the old garage foundation was demolished in sections; as the sections were removed they were replaced with new reinforced concrete foundation. Approximately 70% of the old foundation was replaced. The completed new foundation sections were faced with new brick that matched the old brick veneer. When the foundation was done the building was shifted a bit to square the walls and then it was solidly bolted to the foundation. It should last another 85 years.
  • When the foundation work was complete the old garage floor was removed and replaced with new concrete; a floor drain was added to drain to the outside.
  • The old driveway was removed and replaced with a new concrete drive with a new retaining curb at the patio. The new drive is wider (and safer) than the old drive, yet it retains the same gentle curves the original 1925 drive had. The driveway was widened to both the east and west.
  • A grassy mound was removed from between the old drive and the alley; an original concrete curb was replaced with a new curb along the alley that was extended further along the garage to the south. The space between the drive and alley provides a planting bed for small bushes and perennial flowers—particularly many black-eyed susans.
  • The small area behind the garage was also landscaped with small bushes and perennials such as Wiegela, yews, a butterfly bush, and black-eyed susans.
  •  The privacy fence was replaced where sections were damaged due to tree removal and a new section of privacy fence was built at the southeast corner of the backyard to complete the privacy fencing. All three gates in the privacy fence feature antique grates with unique designs; the grates were all salvaged from other historic houses and reused.
  • The landscaping in the rear yard and patio area was adjusted to better accommodate Jimmy the Golden Retriever; a small grassy area that was stressed and failing was replaced with durable cypress mulch.

I would add that I particularly wanted to improve the view and garden character of the alley around the garage because an early
planning document used to design the plat of Southwood Park labeled our alley as “Garden Side Drive.”

As far as “favorite things why you enjoy the neighborhood–” I think that is hard for Joan and I to say, because we enjoy nearly everything about Southwood Park. Great neighbors, great houses, great location, AND it was a pleasure to have a role in listing Southwood Park on the National Register of Historic Places. We plan to stay a long time.”

Whether we take on projects large or small, the effort any of us put into our homes and gardens pays us back in satisfaction, added curb appeal, and property value. Send your nominations of neighbors worthy of recognition to

— Ryan Keirns, Pat Thomson, and Steve McCord

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