Good in the hood

A few well-meaning folks, arguing in support of scaled-up commercial development in the town center, have recently asserted that the center today is not actually a residential neighborhood, after all. One suggested that it’s not really even a village.

My wife and I live in the middle of it, whatever it is, and let me say that comments such as these have raised a few eyebrows up and down the street.

They cite the existence of a cluster of small businesses in the center as evidence. There are also municipal buildings, churches, and schools. It’s true, in a way. The area is not exclusively residential; it is “mixed-use” in an old-timey sense. More than two centuries of gentle organic growth have produced a nicely balanced mix of building types and styles. The result is an extraordinary and well-preserved example of an authentic, linear New England town center.

To suggest that “it’s not a residential neighborhood,” however, does not make those of us who live here disappear. We’re still here. And there are a lot of us. Of the 64 total buildings in the center today, 48 are exclusively residences. Of those 48, two-thirds are private homes situated within a cozy 1,000 feet of the intersection of Main and Wattaquadock. The center has always been predominantly residential.

It’s a stable area. The average age of houses on our block is 200 years. We’ve lived in our old house for 15 years. Our neighbor is going on 36 years. A couple of houses up, 33 years. Across the street, 44 years.

There are also young families. One just bought the house down on the corner and moved in with four small children, a couple of chickens, and boatload of youthful enthusiasm. They look as if they are settling in for a good long time. There’s new energy on the block. It’s good.

We get together on occasion. And borrow stuff, and share babysitting and dog walks, and look after each other’s gardens when we are away, and celebrate and mourn—just as many generations have done before us, in these very same houses.

What is there about a neighborhood that we don’t have?   We even have a blog!


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