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Ravinia Neighbors Association Blog

Welcome to RNA’s Blog Page which features articles from Ravinia writers. Although articles are chosen in accordance with topics we feel are relevant to Ravinia and of possible interest to our readers, RNA does not necessarily endorse the opinions put forth in the blog posts. If you would like to comment on any articles put forth in the blogs, please use the comment box that follows each post.

These Are Not Archenemies: They’re at Home in Ravinia

Friday, September 30, 2011

By Ray DeLong

So: You ever drive north on St. Johns to get downtown? Of course you have. And in a little stretch right here in Ravinia, you must have noticed those super-cute arched-front doorways. I sure have.

So what is there to know about them? Was there some kind of city ordinance requiring cuteness some decades ago? Probably not. But people in the market for a sweet new place to live have noticed them -- if they can find one a current owner wants to sell. Good luck with that.

So let's take a walk down St. Johns and check them out. We'll be talking about nine house numbers, stretched from close to us (that'd be No. 841, closer to our Ravinia District)to nearer downtown (the last one is No. 973). All these are on St. Johns and one touches St. Johns but has an address on the cross street Ava.490 Ava

According to city records, all the nine we'll be talking about were built between 1925 and 1928. Actually, seven were built in 1925, one in 1927 and one in 1928.

In our chats with some of the homeowners, we learned nuggets of information about their home purchases and their life on St. Johns.

Becky Sloan and her family have lived at 841 St. Johns for 25 years. House 841 St Johns The arched front door contributed to their decision to buy in the first place. They also liked the neighborhood -- "good for our kids." She noted one arched-door factor that some others mentioned: An arched door is costly to repair. "It was very, very expensive to fix it when it cracked," she said.

Moving north toward town, Howard Fineman and his family have been in 881 St. Johns for 18 years. They are the third owners of the house. "The arched doorway adds character; it's a nice detail," he said. They moved from another house in Highland Park. The Finemans had to do quite a bit of work on the arched screen door.

Just a couple houses north, Bob Murphy and his family live at 887 St. Johns. They've been there five years after moving over from 503 Pleasant, also in Ravinia. His family likes the combination of arched doorway and vines: "It gives it a Tudor look," he said.

Then, just north of 905 St. Johns, is the cross street, Ava. The house on the south corner is 490 Ava, owned by Alisha Mullen. She's been in her house since 1968, having migrated from Cuba in 1961. "The arches in and out reminded me of Cuba," she said. "The houses with arches were built at a time when arches were a popular architectural feature."

Incidentally, probably no house in Highland Park has more arches than Alisha's. 959 St. JohnsThey are everywhere inside on windows and assorted spaces -- a stunning living room -- and arches rule over most outdoor windows. The house should win if there's ever a city contest for number of curves atop glassed areas and indoor spaces.

And if you have slightly different tastes in the stunning department, check out 959 St. Johns. Its arched, bright-red front door will knock you over. Yes, there are a number of red doors in our town, but this one seems special. Owner Mindy Moore came aboard in 2005. "I like to buy homes that have interesting entrances," Mindy said. "The arch is warm and has movement. That's what made me buy my house."

For the record, the other arched-front-door houses in this stretch of St. Johns are numbers 869, 905, 941 and 973, just south of Moroney Park. Check 'em out! And don't worry if your eyebrows start involuntarily arching. They'll settle down before you reach downtown.