516 N. Oak Park Ave.

When I was growing up, I lived in the house that stands at 516 N. Oak Park Ave. It looked like a home out of Gone With The Wind. It was, and still is, a three-story colonial with a wide front porch with another porch above it. The building was painted white, and the shutters and porch floor were painted green.

The side driveway was straight until it reached the back of the house, and then it gently curved until it reached the garage. There was a flower garden on the north side of the driveway and a grassy area on the south side. In 1955 a cement patio was built in this grassy area. We had a two-car garage with a second floor that was used by a coachman as living quarters at the turn of the 20th century. 

To the right (south) of the garage was a vegetable garden that produced bumper crops every year because the garden had once served as an enclosure for the family horse. To the left of the garden and attached to the rear of the garage was the woodshed where lumber and logs, used in the fireplace, were stored.

When a person entered the house, he/she would step into a moderate-size hall and immediately see the stairs leading to the second floor. To the left of the front hall was a formal dining room, and to the right of the hall was the living room, which included a fireplace, a small library with shelves on two walls and two stuffed chairs sat in front of a picture window that looked out onto the back yard.

The kitchen was directly behind the dining room, and a large screened-in porch was reached either through the rear kitchen door or by a door off the long hall that skirted the staircase in the front hall. Off the long hall and on its right was a closet and a small bathroom.

Since the back porch was screened, we were able to eat our evening meals on the porch during the summer months. Wooden steps led from the porch to the driveway.

The basement consisted of four rooms and a commode. In 1949, my uncle Hubert fashioned a bedroom in the main room and used the room until he married and moved in 1951. In 1956 my uncle Gene and I [mostly Gene] converted the main room into a den.

Under the basement stairs was a coal bin which was used until we converted to oil in the mid-’50s, and in this same area was a storeroom for canned goods, the commode, a wood shop, and the furnace.

In the rear of the basement and behind the main room was the laundry room that consisted of a wringer washer, a dryer, and two iron tubs. The backyard could be reached through the rear laundry room door.

On the second floor there were four bedrooms, a sewing room, and a bathroom.

When I climbed the stairs to the third floor, to my left was a bedroom where my uncle Gene slept, and directly in front of me was the main part of the attic that made up most of the third floor. It was filled with clothing, luggage, and odds and ends.

I have many fond memories of the house that I once called home.

Join the discussion on social media!