My brother, Vincent, has lived in the Marble Hill neighborhood of the Bronx/Manhattan for 20 years. He was content with his little studio dwelling in a large apartment building, which was cozy and warm. Although he was able to accommodate us as guests throughout the years, the apartment wasn’t that interesting, and didn’t allow for any privacy. No complaints, though, because it provided us with free NYC accommodations, and great access to Manhattan and Brooklyn.
All of my visits to this little abode required me to begin the journey home through an interesting neighborhood. Each time I meandered through the city streets, I found myself noticing a certain house, and how it was set back off the street, a little farther in than the others. I couldn’t help but wonder what stories this old, vintage house could tell.
In 2009, Vincent decided that he wanted to be a home owner. He took serveral months, and finally found that the house that I was always curious about, was for sale. He bought it in April of 2010. The family who owned the house at that time, wasn’t related to the original owners, but they had some pictures and some historic information about the original family and house.
The original owners were named Buzzini. At that time, in the early 1900’s, there were only 45 states in our union as evidenced by the flag that seemed to be proudly displayed out front. (1907 saw the addition of Oklahoma. New Mexico and Arizona were admitted in 1912, and of course, Hawaii and Alaska in 1959).
The Buzzini’s were in the “Everything for the Kitchen” business. As a result, they had what might have been considered a state-of-the-art kitchen at the turn of the 20th century.
So, Vincent has been busy for the last 2 years renovating this old house. He has some friends who have talent and experience in interior design, who are creatively leading the efforts by providing ideas and advice. The house has 5 floors. The top three are the “living” space, with 2 floors in the basement. Two or three fire places enhance a few of the rooms in the “living” spaces, and a sun deck is situated off one of the bedrooms.
In addition to the 2 floors in the basement, this sub terrain also has an entry way into a tunnel that is thought to have once been a secret passageway for troops during the Revolutionary War. The tunnel doesn’t go too far, as it collapsed during a city street improvement project some years ago.
The kitchen no longer has any old appliances, however it does have the original tiled floor. This floor is such a gem, and a peak into the past.
The house is far from being done. I’m not sure it will ever really be done. But, I can say that every time I visit, noticable changes have taken place, and the next set of plans have been launched. I look forward to being entertained for years to come, as I watch this house transform into his home.