Yesterday we made an offer on a house. It's in a neighborhood of South Portland called Knightville--a peninsula of land that is a three-minute drive across the Casco Bay Bridge from downtown Portland. The house is a five-minute walk from the waterside, a fifteen-minute walk from a public beach. It is on a corner lot on two quiet residential streets. The houses are modest but not new; most date from the 1940s and early 1950s.
Portland and South Portland were originally connected by what was known as the Million-Dollar Bridge, which opened in 1916. The view above is from a postcard published shortly after the bridge opened. Versions of that bridge persisted until 1997, when the Casco Bay Bridge replaced it. Previously, traffic from Portland had whizzed straight through Knightville, and car-culture shopping sprang up around the highway: strip malls and auto-parts stores and fast-food restaurants. But the new bridge is positioned further east into the bay, hugging the side of the peninsula, and what was formerly just a roadway has became pleasant . . . or at least it's working on becoming pleasant. Knightville is still in flux: the car-culture stuff clings, yet there is also a town center now, with store fronts and a busy coffee shop and a place that sells Labrador retriever art (don't ask) and a persistent little dive bar and a shop that sells sew-on patches for your Boy Scout uniform or your Harley-Davidson attire and a junk store that has a copy of Boswell's Life of Johnson in the front window and a really good taco place. People walk around in the little downtown with their dogs and their plaid shirts and their strollers and their rundown shoes and their cigarettes and their phones and their girlfriends and their motorized wheelchairs loaded with a surprising amount of toilet paper. It was comfortable to sit at a formica table and eat sloppy tacos and watch them go by.
The house we made an offer on was built in 1952. It has two bedrooms upstairs, a miniscule bathroom, a long sunny living room, a dining room, a tiny 70s-renovated kitchen that is terrible but temporarily adequate. There is hardly any closet space but a fair amount of attic storage. The doors have glass knobs. The one-car garage smells pleasantly of grandparents. The basement is finished and dry and has a half-bath. The corner lot is oddly shaped and landscaped with tedious yew hedges. If I can get rid of them, there will be plenty of room for me to plan an intensive garden. The place is clean and sturdy but slightly dollhouse-like. The streets will be safe for Ruckus. Tom is formulating his kitchen reconstruction plans. I am sharpening my sword for those yew hedges. As soon as we saw it, we thought we might be able to be happy there.
In the picture below, Knightville is at the top of the photo. The house we're hoping to buy is located just where the trees begin. We'll find out later today if the seller will give us a counter-offer. Everything could fall through. But maybe it won't.