Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taking The Grand Tour Of 2601 Penn Ave. N., New Home Of The Hawthorne Hawkman...

Photos, blog post by John Hoff blogging from a Burger King in rural Minnesota

A couple weeks ago, Jeff Skrenes gave me and my son, Alex, a tour of his new home at 2601 Penn Avenue North, a location that is right in the middle of everything. From all sides of Jeff's property, one can stand and watch the unstoppable, inevitable forces of neighborhood revitalization pushing up against, well...

Crap. Just crappy stuff that needs to change.

After saving his pennies, obsessively clipping coupons, and monitoring every point on his credit rating for several years, Jeff became a homeowner.


Jeff makes no secret of the fact a divorce put some serious dings in his finances, but there's plenty of THAT going around. North Minneapolis is the place where a single guy (or gal) can start life all over again as a home owner.

And what a nice home it is...

Above, Jeff shows off the built-in antique buffet where he stores the good dishes. There was apparently a moment--the kind of moment you still talk about when you're 85 years old--when the sunlight was hitting the buffet just so, and Jeff thought, "This is the house for me."

One of the reasons Jeff NEEDS a house is to display his extensive collection of geeky sci-fi memorabilia. Star Wars fans will recognize the creature above as the beast that tried to kill Luke Skywalker on the ice planet of Hoth. Well, OK, the creature that tried to kill Skywalker was A LOT bigger; this one looks like a baby taken out of season. I'm just saying.

Clearly, this kind of intense feeling shown toward Star Wars toys needs to take place in the privacy of one's own home; a place where no landlord can suddenly appear and shout, "What IS that THING and what's it doing on my FLOOR?"

Another geeky touch. The light switch is a big red button.

As in, "No! Don't touch the red button!"

What movie is that from, anyway? Well, apparently it's no SPECIFIC movie, it's actually from A LOT of movies. Naturally, I pressed it. And then I realized, wow, that's a great way to get people to TURN OFF THE LIGHTS WHEN THEY LEAVE THE ROOM. Make it fun, somehow. That smarty-pants Jeff Skrenes; always influencing people in clever, geeky ways.

Jeff put flowering plants on his front step to alert bus riders the house is occupied and they shouldn't sit on his front steps. He claims this polite tactic is working to discourage "step loitering." If Jeff sees somebody sitting on the steps, Jeff goes outside with a pot of water and acts surprised to encounter somebody (oh, my goodness!) sitting on his steps. My opinion is, "If you think potted flowers work well, you should see what a VIDEO CAMERA can do." 

Rather than doing an expensive renovation of the wood steps leading upstairs, Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation (GMHC or "Gimmick") covered the steps with carpet. I've seen this exact shade of carpet in so many GMHC houses that I've dubbed it "Gimmick Gray."

But let me put it this way: Better Gimmick Gray than Reitman Blue.

Jeff convinced GMHC to save the windows they were replacing. In a nutshell, the story is GMHC was required to replace the windows but non-historic windows was almost a "deal breaker" for Jeff, whose obsession with historic windows includes attending "Window Restoration Boot Camp." Showing some flexibility, Jeff conceded to the windows being replaced at his dream house but asked for the historic windows to be saved back. Here are the windows, down in the basement.

As long as we're down in the basement on our photo tour, here's Jeff showing where somebody had started to install a wooden partition. Apparently, in those desperate last days before the house was lost to the previous owner, a plot was afoot to create more bedrooms and fill the place with renters desperate enough to live in such circumstances. The Jordan neighborhood caught a lucky break when this house changed hands.

Dean Rose, the owner of Broadway Liquors, gave Jeff this little housewarming gift. As you can see, Jeff appreciates the gift since half the bottle is gone.

Another geeky touch on top of the fridge; Darth Vader's head.

Jeff in the garage. The lumber at Jeff's feet is from the slummy "basement bedroom" project.

Another great thing about home ownership; you can display yard signs for the candidate of your choice and not have to tiptoe around hoping your landlord doesn't disapprove.

The top photo in this blog post makes Jeff's porch look a little dark. I thought I would end the grand tour with this sunny photo of the porch.

It should be noted this fantastic house sat vacant for a long time. Many wonderful houses remain in North Minneapolis at great prices. The concerted efforts of citizens are making the area safer all the time. On a long list of recent neighborhood victories, the purchase of a home by Jeff Skrenes is another "one small step" for North Minneapolis, but probably a giant leap for the intersection of 26th and Penn.


Patrick said...

Congratulations on the new home. Looks very nice.

Anonymous said...

Good thing you saved those old windows, they make great picture frames, a very antique or rural look.

Anonymous said...

the jeffster gettin' drunk and tryin' to pose on da rug for da girlies you go boy!

Anonymous said...

OMG Jeff is *never* gonna get laid!

Johnny Northside! said...

Are you kidding? Those geeky girls at Sci Fi conventions eat this stuff up! I'm talking, like, a threesome with somebody dressed like Princess Lea and another dressed like Princess, um, I forget her name but it's Lea's daughter. With Jeff dressed like LUKE because that's just FREAKY but you have to know the relationships in Star Wars to understand WHY that's so FREAKY.

Don't be hating on the Jeffster just because you can't geek out like him.

Christian Romines said...

Congrats on the new home purchase! I have been living on 25th & Logan in my first home for the last year. I am so excited to see fresh faces in the area looking to turn around the area! Time to "kick out the jams" as they once sang!

Christian Romines said...

Congrats on the new home! Awesome! I have been living on 25th & Logan ave N for the last year and look forward to meeting more new home owners on the Northside!

Anonymous said...

Now if we can teach the neighbors to use a trash can to dump their garbage instead of throwing it on the boulevard. How much of a difference it could make. I have a Native American tear running down my cheek!

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Thanks for the post, John! A few responses:

1. The photo of me in front of the built-in cabinet is me showing off not just the woodwork, but also my grandmother's china. She passed away two years ago. And when I was unpacking my belongings, I specifically made a point that the FIRST THING I'd take out of a box in my new home would be my grandmother's china. A nice connection to the past.

2. The wampa rug is upstairs, not in central living areas and therefore should not unnecessarily impede on any dating activities. Unless, of course, a certain photo makes its way onto the inter--crap.

3. The GMHC carpeting was intentional on my part. I still don't know what I'm going to do with the upstairs. I could tear out all non-load-bearing walls and make a loft, or restore the hardwood underneath, or any number of things. So I told my contractor to just do the standard work on the 2nd floor and I'll figure out what I really want later.

4. I now have a trash bin out front, reducing litter dramatically. I'm going to get it painted too.

Get to NoMi said...

I know it's been a bit of time, but I'd like to WELCOME Jeff to the neighborhood! I'm over on 26th & Upton!