Saturday, March 21, 2009

Montreal Shoeboxes

My pal Susan Semenak has a fantastic piece in today's Gazette about the charm of the "Montreal shoebox", those compact bungalows you find in the city's older neighborhoods. She's such a great writer and reporter that reading her stories is like slipping through a cool pool of water on a hot summer day. Effortless, refreshing. Plus, she talks to all the right people: urban geography maven David Hanna, another guy who grew up with two siblings in one of these two-bedroom homes and me!
We had a great morning a few weeks ago touring the neighborhood around Jean Talon market to admire the rococo architecture of these otherwise humble dwellings. We then had a delicious and cheap lunch in a Vietnamese resto on Beaubien St. Photographer John Mahoney took some lovely pictures to go with the story.
It's amazing to me that you can grab one of these vintage (1900-1930s) houses with all their character and style, usually in a really neat neighborhood, for less than $280,000.
The house pictured above was listed for sale in January at $259,000. It was snapped up like that in five days by someone who paid $267,000. It's on Bordeaux St. near Jean Talon. It has about 1,000 square feet of living space, two bedrooms and a finished basement with family room and laundry. It also has a nicely landscaped back yard with a gazebo. The photos show lots of vintage woodwork and plaster and a built-in china cabinet. All this and combined property/school taxes under $2,000. I'm in love.

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