My name is Joe Dudman. I am one of your neighbors. I live in the 1928 Eastmoreland house at 36th and Rex that my parents bought in 1960 and I grew up in. I would like to give you my personal, independent, and individual perspective on the importance of approving the Eastmoreland Historic District, and why preserving the character of the neighborhood means so much to me.
First of all, Eastmoreland is already an “historic” neighborhood. It was carefully planned in the early years of the 20th Century, with the streets artfully laid out, and great attention given to every detail. But what makes Eastmoreland truly great and a terrific place to live is the diversity of houses (in size and style), the front yards, the trees, sidewalks, parks, the school, and above all, the family-friendly community that is created and sustained by all of these things.
The houses in Eastmoreland are both densely grouped and nicely spaced; neighbors are not isolated from each other, yet the spacious yards provide plenty of room for family activities and for children to play. When I was a kid, we used to eat picnic dinners on the front lawn and greet our neighbors as they walked by. I learned to ride my trike in the front yard and rode my bike around the block and at the Duniway School across the street. Eastmoreland strikes the perfect balance between a neighborhood of duplexes or modern homes with no yards and a neighborhood of isolated homes on large lots, like Dunthorpe.
My main reason for supporting the Eastmoreland Historic District is to halt the increasing trend of developers and “redevelopers” coming into the neighborhood, buying old, well-made, carefully crafted homes, demolishing them, and replacing them with more cheaply constructed houses that fill the lots, reduce the size of the yards, and are out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood. These developers are primarily interested in making a quick profit on the reputation of the neighborhood, while not being concerned with the character of the neighborhood itself. For example, I frequently receive form letters from “redevelopment” companies with names like Phoenix (note the symbolism of destruction and regeneration), offering to buy my house “as is”, with the obvious intention of razing it, building a much larger new home on the lot, making a profit, and moving on.
My house was hand built by a Finnish immigrant in 1928. I know this, because he returned to visit the house after my parents purchased it in 1960. The design, materials, construction, and craftsmanship would never be duplicated in a modern house. Many Eastmoreland houses have similar histories and characteristics, though the residents may not be aware of all the details. Once a house like this is demolished, it is gone forever. I know that is stating the obvious, but it needs to be emphasized. The desire for a quick profit can lead to the destruction of decades of history and an irreplaceable treasure.
So I hope my neighbors will think about the historical significance of their houses, and learn more about their background, as I have. I realize we live in a transitory age, where people come and go, but please consider the good fortune you have to live in a neighborhood with such a rich history and such a family friendly character, and take the future of the neighborhood and your neighbors into consideration, even if you plan to move on or see your home as an “investment”. The main result of the establishment of an Eastmoreland Historic District would be the slowing of the loss of historic houses. The intent is not to restrict remodeling, upgrades, and other projects. To me, those activities show a pride in one’s home, and encourage me that neighbors plan to stay, or sell the house to someone who would value it as much as they have.
When I went off to college in Minnesota, I used to proudly tell my friends that I lived in the best neighborhood, in the best city, in the best state in the country. It wasn’t because the houses were the biggest, or the cars were the fanciest, or there was a swimming pool in every backyard. It was because of the front lawns, the sidewalks, the trees, the diverse old houses, and the friendly families. I still believe this is true, but it won’t be if our old houses continue to be razed and the neighborhood becomes just another generic suburb with cookie cutter homes out of scale with their lots and with no sense of history. I’ve seen some signs that say “My Home My Dream”. Eastmoreland has always been more than just a collection of “Me”s and individual dreams. It is a true community, and I hope it remains that way for generations to come.
That is why I support the establishment of The Eastmoreland Historic District, and I hope you will join me in voting “Yes”.