I wanted to make note of a couple of things I discovered during last weekend’s trip to and from my class reunion, which I highlighted in my previous post. Both of these have to do with two old apartments I had lived in during my 12 years in the Green Bay area. (Yes, you non-Wisconsinites, that Green Bay.) The first tidbit concerns the last apartment I lived in up there. Actually, I take that back somewhat: This isn’t about that apartment itself so much as it is about the plot of land kitty-corner from it. On that 1-acre plot was a little red farm house along with matching garage and small barn, all closely situated within each other.
Now, you’re probably wondering what a small farm house with matching garage and barn would be doing in the middle of the city, especially on a street lined with apartment buildings. I don’t know either, suffice it to say that the house and barn and garage were likely there first, with the apartments springing up around it as Green Bay got bigger over the years. You’re probably wondering if, since a barn was there, any farming was done. Again, big city… although I’m sure the land was farmland, say, a century ago at least. What that small barn did have was a horse. I know this because, for one, I could hear a neighing sound emanating from the barn every now and again when I had my apartment’s windows open. Also, I could see a horse trailer parked on their driveway every now and again.
Whatever was residing inside that house and barn, seeing them literally across the street was a treat, as it had gave a little bit of charm to our urbanized neighborhood. Unfortunately, living in a city full of brick and mortar, it was easy to overlook… and easy to forget about after I left Green Bay 15 years ago. And also, when I drove through the old neighborhood on my trip back to Madison, easy to notice that it was all gone. Sure, the apartment buildings that surrounded it (including my old place) looked the same. It’s just that the 1-acre plot that housed that barn, house, etc. was nothing but fresh-cut grass, a tree much taller than it had been 15 years ago… and a “land for sale” sign prominently posted. I didn’t realize the house and barn had been razed, although when doing my due diligence afterward, I figured it had been at least a good 5 years since it disappeared.
I’m not sure what they might do with that land, although my guess is that someone will want to put a fancy house or apartment building there. To be honest, a new building would be in better shape than the red house and barn that occupied it (they were made of wood, go figure). Truth be told, it would also be an improvement over some of the apartment buildings that still dot that street… because several of them appear rather dilapidated and ready for at least a few new blinds, if not a full remodeling. Oh, for the record, my old apartment building looked in pretty good shape compared to those other buildings.
That wasn’t the only old haunts I drove past, and with that, I link back to this post, in which I talked up about my very first apartment when I lived in the Green Bay area, or at least the very first apartment I had all to myself: A small 1-bedroom apartment that was part of several small apartment buildings at the end of a cul-de-sac. In my just under 3 years living in that apartment, I could live and breathe by myself, go anywhere I desired… and dress as Allison whenever I dammed well pleased.
Well, on my drive up, I made a pit stop in Green Bay, and I drove past the small side street where my old apartment was located. Problem was, when I turned my head in the direction of the apartment, I noticed… nothing. Which kind of surprised me a little bit. So, while I was heading back to Madison on Sunday, I made a point to drive down that cul-de-sac to verify what I thought I had seen on Friday. Sure enough… nothing.
Yeah, I was bummed out about that empty lot as well, admittedly more so than not seeing that red farmhouse. Back in Madison, I looked up the reason for that empty cul-de-sac: About a couple of years ago, the village’s powers-that-be condemned virtually all of the apartment buildings (each single level and no more than 6 apartments) on that entire .16-mile street (it’s a cul-de-sac, go figure), along with a couple other buildings on a neighboring street. By early 2016, the residents were out and the demolitions began. As of now, from what I saw on Sunday, only a couple of buildings remain, and they are likely to be nothing but empty spaces by early autumn.
So, why were those apartments demolished? Well, just like some of the apartments on the last street I lived on up in Green Bay, they had seen better days. Dilapidated? You could say that some of them were. Indeed, I know that at least one other apartment building on that same street was such a rickety structure, the village saw it to raze it about a decade ago. (Really, it had the structural integrity of a haystack.) What will take their place? I didn’t come across any official plans online of yet, but saw some mention of luxury apartments possibly springing up there. You know, the kind of apartments so exquisitely constructed, you’d need to plunk down some serious coin every month just to even think about living there. (I should know: One such luxury apartment building is being built across from where I work, and they’ll be charging about $1000/month for a 1-bedroom. Yikes!)
So, yeah, my very first apartment is nothing but a memory — literally. No, looking back on it, it wasn’t anything special. But, hey, it was there, it was available when I needed it, it was affordable, and it was literally within a stone’s throw of one of the jobs I held down while I lived there. And it gave me just enough closet space to stow away a cardboard box that served as my first feminine wardrobe. I live in better accommodations now, but that first apartment will always occupy a sweet part of my memory bank.