Before and After


Everyone loves a story of transformation. It has inspired so many of the books of our childhoods: the ugly duckling, Cinderella in her rags, the frog that turns into a prince, the beast that once again becomes a charming young man. Transformation is the theme of countless reality TV shows: The Biggest Loser, Hoarders, Rehab Addict. What is it that attracts viewers of HGTV shows like Rehab Addict? Is it the thrill we feel as we watch dumpsters fill with junk and ugly additions fall in a dusty heap? Does the sparkle of newly refinished and repaired tile, floors, and windows satisfy our collective need for aesthetic pleasure? Is it because Nicole Curtis swoops in at the last minute and saves homes destined for demolition and we love a good rescue story? Or do we want to save our old houses because it means preserving the history of our neighborhoods, which in turn means preserving the history of us?

Whatever our reasons, we can’t resist a good Before and After story. And so I would like to present the Before…… 818 North 25th Street in Church Hill, Richmond, Virginia. You can see that she was once a pretty house. Lack of care and periodic abandonment over the years have left her looking rather sad, but the talented Bryan Traylor of Unlimited Renovations has been brought on board as the rehab contractor, permits have been approved, and over the next few months you will see this house transformed.


North 25th Street has brick sidewalks, historic streetlights, a friendly church congregation, and many houses already renovated or in the process of being renovated.


The elements have certainly taken their toll. Does this look a little daunting? It’s okay to say yes. This will be nothing short of a total rehab.


The front porch. Shouldn’t every house have one?


Children once played in this backyard. I can imagine them catching fireflies on warm summer evenings. So here is a thing you should know about me: I am sentimental when it comes to old houses. I imagine the lives lived in them, babies born in them, childhoods spent in them, celebration days, sad days, ordinary days. Every old house holds stories because every person that has lived there has a story to tell.

My next step will be one inside the house. I think I’m going to need a flashlight and rubber boots in case I come across something that doesn’t like to be disturbed!




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