Farewell to a Garage on Ellsworth? Not So Fast.

We were in the neighborhood the other day (grabbing a tasty to-go beverage from Burg’s Hideaway, if you must know) and a Demolition Notice caught our eye on the 2100 block of Ellsworth. The sign was posted on the home at 2128 Ellsworth St., but we naturally assumed that it actually applied to the double-wide garage next door. This garage has always been an outlier on this residential block, and surprisingly dates back to the 1920s. Figure back then this sort of thing was a little more common.

Current view

After doing a little research, we learned that the demo notice is actually in the right place. In fact, the home is slated for demolition and the garage is going to stick around, at least in a manner of speaking. The garage is set to grow some, with plans calling for a two-story addition and a conversion into a duplex. The curb cut will unfortunately stick around, which feels like an odd choice given that the building will also have parking accessible from the rear, on Annin Street. The new four-story home that will be built in place of the demoed home will likewise have parking from Annin Street.

While this isn’t the project we anticipated, we’d argue that it’s better than what we were originally expecting. For many years, we’ve railed against the idea that architectural uniformity is desirable as a design aesthetic. And while we can appreciate the reassuring repetition of a block with homes that are all the same height with the same cornice line and the same window heights, our preference is generally for diversity over uniformity. This garage in the middle of a mostly uniform side of the block adds interest to the streetscape in our estimation, and adding a couple stories onto the building will definitely spice things up. Would have been nice to lose the curb cut, though.

Looking down the street

Of course, an argument against architectural diversity can be found on this very block, on the north side of the street. Half a dozen two-story homes were built on this block in the 1980s, as subsidized for-sale housing. The homes sit on huge lots and feature driveways, gables, and tons of vinyl siding. On the plus side, these homes offer far more outdoor space than you typically find in the city so close to downtown. On the other side of the ledger, they look like they look. Gotta take the good with the bad, right?

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