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Posts Tagged ‘bromley’

Levittown, Norfolk Virginia

March 29th, 2014 Sears Homes 4 comments

“Rose, do you know what this thing is?”

That’s what my neighbor asked me Friday night, as we were standing in the front yard, enjoying the pleasant evening.

In the back of his truck, he showed me a 2×6 with a metal ring recessed into a matching groove. I closely examined the board and the ring and the groove. Then I had to admit, I didn’t have a clue.

“It came out of that house that they’re remodeling down the street,” he said. “It’s a roofing joist. I didn’t know what it was either, and I asked my nephew and he said it was a fastener. It had a square bolt that went through it, and that’s what held two pieces of wood together.”

“Like a nailing plate,” I said.

“Yeah, like a nailing plate.”

Back at home, we looked it up on the computer (using the patent number) and found it was a Teco Timber Ring.

Looking at this curiosity, I got to thinking it might help me solve another riddle. This Teco Ring came from “Bromley” (an adjacent neighborhood).

I’ve always wondered, why does Bromely have so many “Levittown houses”? We’ve got more than 75 “Jubilee” models, and they are identical to the houses built in Levittown (NY and PA).

Was there a connection between Bromley and Levitt’s assembly-line-method-of-house-building? Or did someone in Norfolk just “borrow” the Jubilee floorplan and build it en masse?

We know that William Levitt (creator and builder of Levittown) had a presence in Norfolk. In the early 1940s, he developed a tract of 750 homes in Norfolk known as “Oakdale Farms” (just off Little Creek Road).

According to Second Suburb: Levittown, Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), “Before Oakdale Farms, [the Levitts] undertook a detailed study of prefabrication techniques and erected several test houses. They saw the exigencies of war as ideal circumstances for adopting the practice for the construction mainstream” (p. 136).

On the following page, the Levitts pointed at Oakdale Farms as their “watershed that was crucial to their large-scale projects of the post-war years.”

William Levitt is quoted as saying that Norfolk “infected us with the fever of mass building…We saw house-building…with a tract of land as a factory, turning out low-cost houses as its product.”

Are our Norfolk “Jubilees” in Bromley a Levittown product?

The discovery of this Teco Timber Coupler adds some intrigue. The house where it came from is not the “Jubilee,” but it’s smack-dab in a neighborhood full of these Levittown-lookalikes.

Take a look and the pictures, and if anyone can shed any light on this new mystery, let me know!

Read more about the Teco Timber Ring here.

To read an excellent article on Levittown, click here.

A final thought: One of the sweetest parts about being the local “expert” is having friends who pull cool stuff out of trash piles and haul it home and show it to you.  ;)

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This Teco Timber Ring was found in a house in Bromley (section of Norfolk).

This Teco Timber Ring was found in a house in Bromley (section of Norfolk).

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It came out of a 1950s house thats been torn down to the studs and is being rebuilt. Curious thing is, its in a neighborhood full of Jubilee Levittown houses. Is there a connection?

It came out of a 1950s house that's been torn down to the studs and is being rebuilt. Curious thing is, it's in a neighborhood full of "Jubilee" Levittown houses. Is there a connection?

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This iconic image from Life Magazine shows the Levittown NY neighborhood in the late 1950s.

This iconic image from Life Magazine shows the Levittown NY neighborhood in the late 1950s. Now take a good look at the houses in the background. Notice the long thin windows on the 2nd floor? This was the "Jubilee" model found in Levittown NY and PA.

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Heres a picture of a Levittown Jubilee in New York.

Here's a picture of a Levittown Jubilee in New York. See photo credit directly below.

The photo above came from a blogger who wrote a terrific piece on Levittown. You can enjoy more of his wonderful images and photos by clicking here.

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And heres one of our Jubilees in Norfolks Bromely neighborhood.

And here's one of our "Jubilees" in Norfolk's Bromley neighborhood. Notice, it even has the same attic vents (in the peak of the gable) as the NY Jubilee.

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Ive not counted yet, but Id guess we have more than 75 of these models.

I've not counted yet, but I'd guess we have more than 75 of these models.

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This Jubilee in Levittown, NY is for sale. Its on Vermillion Way.

This Jubilee in Levittown, NY (Vermillion Way) is for sale. I'm posting it here because it shows the back side of these houses. The house in the foreground has had some modifications. The white house next door is more original.

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Just like its Levittown twin, the house in Norfolk has a bathroom dormer (on the rear) with an off-center window.

Just like its Levittown twin, the house in Norfolk has a bathroom dormer (on the rear) that comes off the peak with an off-center window.

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werid angle

Another curious feature is the different angle on that garage roof. It's a different pitch than the primary roof. This house is in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

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The mismatched roof pitch on the garage/carport is also a match.

Our Jubilees in Norfolk also have this feature (unusually pitched garage roof).

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This Norfolk Jubilee has its original windows.

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As does this one in Levittown, PA.

As does this one in Levittown, PA. And they're the same style of window that's present in the Norfolk homes.

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Was Bill Levitt involved in creating our own mini-Levittown here in Norfolk?

I’d sure love to know.

One things for sure - the houses are a perfect match - down to the windows, vents, and other details.

You can read a fun little article about The Jubilee here.

More information on Levittown can be found here.

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Our “New” Home - a 1962 Brick Ranch - in Norfolk, VA

September 12th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

The beautiful pink house on Gosnold is now a closed chapter in our lives, and we’re delighted to be settling into our new home in another section of Norfolk. The big pink house was fun, but we’re grateful to have handed over the reins to a delightful young couple that have an inherent understanding that they are not just “homeowners” but caretakers.

There are countless blogs at this site detailing the work we’ve done to our 1925 center-hallway, Colonial Revival, so this blog will be all about the new house!

The new house is ideal for us, at this time in our lives. It’s a smaller house and a simpler house, and it’s all on one level. The best part is, the beautiful back yard adjoins a small canal off of Lake Whitehurst. For most of my life, I’ve dreamt of living on the water, and that dream has now come true.

When I was a little girl, my mother would walk through the halls of our home saying, “I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.” Such things leave a deep impression on a little girl, and I’m sure that my mother’s enjoyment of that home is a big part of the reason that historic architecture became my career.

And now, walking through the splendid rooms of my recently purchased 1962 brick ranch and gazing out the many windows at the beautiful yard with its water views, I hear my mother’s words return to me.

I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.

To learn about the kit homes in Norfolk, click here.

To read more about our new house, click here.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. Notice that hes dressed to match the beautiful Ringer Ranch.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. It's clear that he loves being a Realtor, and that's reflected in his attitude and actions. Notice that he's dressed to match the beautiful "Ringer Ranch."

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach).  Im a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach). I'm a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

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Thanks to the many trees, the house is awash in dappled sunlight.

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The sunporch is 168 square feet of heaven on earth.

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

Since this photo was taken, we've painted the windows white and the walls are now soft pink.

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. Weve already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. We've already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

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The entry foyer has chair-rail and crown molding.

And shut the door!

Notice the COAT CLOSET! It's a closet that's just for coats! WOW!

When we started looking at houses several months ago, I told my husband that I knew exactly what I wanted, and I described it this way:  I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. The house will be a step-back in time, and will have its original kitchens and baths, and while other people may say that the house needs updating, Ill be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition.

Finding a 1960s brick ranch really was a dream come true, and this was a one-owner home, which made it ever more appealing. The house was in wonderfully original condition, as is evidenced by the kitchen!

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Look at that Formica!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen!

The Formica counter tops - now almost 50 years old - are in flawless condition. For many years, I've told lecture attendees that while we may own our homes, we're really caretakers, and we have a duty to keep our homes in good condition. The previous owner of this house (Mr. and Mrs. Martin) lived this principle, and I am grateful.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen. The den sits behind the two-car garage, and is isolated from the bedrooms - which is ideal. The masonry fireplace is in beautiful condition, and the bricks were salvaged from vintage buildings in downtown Norfolk.

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is the entire wall of built-in bookcases. As my daughter pointed out, I have built and installed book-cases in every single home I have ever owned - no exceptions. It's nice to walk into a house with ready-made bookcases (which happen to be far nicer than anything I ever built).

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Another view of our den, with the matching Realtor!

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The long hallway back to the bedrooms has a lush, deep-pile blue carpet. I love the carpet. It makes the house incredibly quiet, and that's a big plus. Mr. Hubby has big, heavy feet!

And just down the hallway is the worlds most beautiful bathroom! Its PINK!  And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape. What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless its a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub!

And just down the hallway is the world's most beautiful bathroom! It's PINK! And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape.

My pink bathtub!

What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless it's a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub! And the tub - like everything else - is in excellent condition. Mr. Martin was a mechanical engineer and it's obvious that he took great pride in this fine old house.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition. The vanity is not original (nor are the faucets), but everything else is much the same as it was in 1962 when the Ringer Ranch was first built.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is his and her bathrooms. This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is "His and Her Bathrooms." This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

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I love a tiled shower enclosure. The walls, floor and even ceiling are fully tiled, and there's a handy dandy light in the ceiling! Incredibly, all the tile and grout is in beautiful condition.

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As much as I love the house, I may love the back yard even more. It's on a finger of Lake Whitehurst, and this is navigable water leading to the Lake (Norfolk's reservoir). In my heart of hearts, I really do believe that this house is a gift from God, an answer to many prayers.

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property!  :)

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property! :)

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Living with the fishies is pretty sweet.

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From the backyard, looking toward the house.

Down by the creek

Down by the creek

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Another view of the back yard.

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The view from the master bedroom.

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Our living room, furnished with a few of our favorite things!

My mothers china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

My mother's china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

Teddy the dog loves the new house and the front door, designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

Teddy the Dog loves the new house and she especially appreciates that the front door is designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

C. S. Lewis said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

For more than 10 years, I’ve pondered the spiritual meaning of that awe-inspiring quote. Now I’ve started to ponder its literal meaning as well, and that’s a very lovely thing. Maybe by experiencing the literal meaning of that quote, I can better understand its spiritual meaning.

Soli Deo Gloria.

:)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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I’m just so darn impressed…

August 31st, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Days after we moved into our dream home here in Bromley’s section of Norfolk, our aged central air system burped a couple times, shuddered hard, squealed loudly and then fell over dead. It wasn’t pretty.

My husband didn’t take it well, exclaiming, “I thought you said this was going to be a low-maintenance house!”

“It will be,” I explained, “as soon as we get the air conditioner replaced!”

When I had the central air installed at my old house, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling and got a bid from them. Their prices were the highest, so I went with another firm. The other firm did not perform up to my expectations. The system was exceptional but the workmanship was not, and after a couple more exchanges, I stopped calling them for service.

When we had a new tankless boiler installed at the old house, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling and got a bid from them. Their prices were neither the highest nor the lowest, but I went with another firm. The building inspector had to return to our house four times, because of several mistakes with the installation. Finally, it passed muster, both with the inspector and me but I was not impressed.

This time, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling.  The fact that they’d won the Virginia Pilot’sBest of Hampton Roads’ Awards” for several years really impressed me. I was ready to pay a few dollars more, as long as I didn’t have to babysit the installer and call his boss twice a day and demand that big ugly problems be corrected.

To my delight and surprise, their price was very reasonable. We replaced both the furnace and air conditioner, and also had a hoity-toity whole-house air-cleaner installed. The house already smells fresher and cleaner.

Perhaps best of all, the men who showed up to do this work were the consummate professionals and showed a respect and thoughtfulness that I thought was long gone from today’s service industries. If I were their own dear mother, they couldn’t have treated me with more care and sincerity and thoroughness. I really was that pleased with their work ethic and their work model and their attention to detail.

The old air conditioning unit was removed Thursday morning and the new unit was in place and working by Thursday evening. They also installed a second return to provide adequate air flow for the new unit, and added filter grates to the old return and the new return.

The other thing that dazzled me was this: NO duct board, but all sheet metal, fabricated on site to meet our specific needs. And the fellow who did their sheet metal work was an artisan.

I’m a tough customer, but their work was exemplary and remarkable, and they left the house spotless and tidy. I highly recommend Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling. And the nicest part of all is knowing that there are still companies that take a profound sense of pride in their workmanship.

Check out the many photos below.

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I stepped into the back yard to see how the guys were coming along, only to find the old unit removed and headed out to the front yard! I was pleased as punch to see four and five men working on this installation throughout the day, and they were all real workers!

Out with the old and in with the new.

Out with the old and in with the new. The old RUUD unit had a manufacture date of 1997 and a SEER of 10. Brandon explained to me that if it was not well maintained, the SEER could have actually dropped well below 10. Doesn't matter now, as this vintage compressor only cooled the house for about 10 days before it went to Compressor Heaven.

The coil they pulled out of the crawlspace was also in rough shape. It had been placed directly on the ground, and not surprisingly, had rusted out. It was quite a bit older than the compressor.

The coil they pulled out of the crawlspace was also in rough shape. It had been placed directly on the ground, and not surprisingly, had rusted out. It was quite a bit older than the compressor.

All piled up together, it really does look like a mess.

All piled up together, it really does look like a mess.

Inside the house, the old return was removed and the old duct was also replaced. The house was built in 1962 and had never had a filter, so the return duct was pretty dirty. Not surprising, after 49 years of sucking up household air.

Inside the house, the old return was removed (in the center hallway) and the old duct was pulled out and replaced. The house was built in 1962 and had never had a filter, so the return duct was pretty dirty. Not surprising, after 49 years of sucking up household air.

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As they were knocking the old metal ductwork loose in the attic (above), some of the dirt and dust was falling out of the old return. This photo was an attempt to catch it in "mid fall." The workers had placed a plastic tarp in the hallway to catch the falling dirt.

The only thing we knew about the old unit was that it was on its second blower motor and needed a third. The second blower had only lasted 23 months. Jaime from Norfolk Air saw that the return duct was too small, which might have causted the blower motor to fail prematurely. A return was added in the den, and the ductwork for both returns new and bigger (and better).

The only thing we knew about the old unit was that it was on its second blower motor and needed a third. The second blower had only lasted 23 months. Jaime from Norfolk Air saw that the return duct was too small, which might have caused the blower motor to fail prematurely. A return was added in the den, and the ductwork for both returns was replaced and enlarged.

In no time at all, the new unit was delivered. It was shiny and new and beautiful.

In no time at all, the new unit was delivered. It was shiny and new and beautiful.

This was the only time when Teddy the Dog pined for the old house and its fine central air. She stared at this painting for much of the day, unnerved by all the beating and banging.

This was the only time when Teddy the Dog pined for the old house and its fine central air. She stared at this painting for much of the day, unnerved by all the beating and banging, occasioned by the installation of the new central air.

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This was a glimpse inside the old return. This is a pretty deep layer of dust and dirt, and this went on for the full 30 length of ductwork.

The old furnace (manufacture date of 2001) was also kind of a mess.

The old furnace (manufacture date of 2001) was also kind of a mess. It was still functional, but old and inefficient (80 AFUE).

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The process of disassembly begins.

It was kind of a mess.

It was kind of a mess.

Teddy waits anxiously, hoping to hear that well have those fresh, cold, magical breezes flowing from those wonderful sheltie-height boxes soon.

Teddy waits anxiously, hoping to hear that we'll have those fresh, cold, magical breezes flowing from those wonderful sheltie-height boxes soon.

The new stuff waits patiently on the curb.

The new pieces and parts wait patiently on the curb.

The old is gone and the new is in place. And what a dandy new furnace it is. The AFUE is 95% and the chimney flue is no longer in use. In its place are plastic pipes; one for exhaust and one for fresh-air (for combustion).

The old is gone and the new is in place. And what a dandy new furnace it is. The AFUE is 95% and the chimney flue is no longer in use. In its place are plastic pipes; one for exhaust and one for fresh-air (for combustion).

And the new air conditioner compressor.

And the new air conditioner compressor.

And voila! Cool, conditioned, cleaned air flows from the magic boxes at Sheltie height.

And voila! Cool, conditioned, cleaned air flows from the magical, wonderful Sheltie-height boxes.

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That "Best of the Best" sticker is mighty good advertising!

As mentioned above, the quality of the work was first rate, and even though it was a surprise to have the old system die such a sudden death, the new system is shiny and new and clean. And I highly recommend Norfolk Air. They remained at our home Thursday night until 8:30 pm, to make sure we had a working air conditioner. Once the unit was fired up and working satisfactorily, they packed up and left for the night.

To contact Norfolk Air, call 963-8365.

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Our New Home, Part II

August 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Today, we celebrate 10 days at our new house, a 1962-built brick ranch in Norfolk’s Bromley neighborhood.

Every day, I find something new about this house that affirms it is indeed, The Perfect House for us. And it also has The Perfect Backyard.

Yesterday, I saw an Snowy White Egret perched atop a branch in the canal, just waiting for his breakfast to swim by. And yesterday, our new fence went in, so that Teddy the Dog could have her freedom restored. Heretofore, she’s been crying like a baby, due to being tethered on a tie-out in the back yard. It was a pitiable sight, and now we have a fenced yard again.

Despite our ten days here at the new house, it still makes my heart leap when I look out the back windows and see that beautiful canal out there. I’ve spent 52 years dreaming of life on a lake, and here I am, living the dream. It sure is lovely.

Here are some photos of our perfect backyard at The Ringer Ranch.

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We spend a lot of time sitting in that bench!

Today, our new fence was installed, enabling Teddy the Dog to be free again.

Today, our new fence was installed, enabling Teddy the Dog to be free again.

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And it's a beautiful house, too!

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Better view of our canal.

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The other photos (above) show the canal leading up to Lake Whitehurst. This is a view of the canal leading down stream.

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property!  :)

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property! :)

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It really does feel like a little bit of heaven. :)

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The view from the master bedroom.

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To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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