Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Kappels Move into the Johnson Home--1974

When Carol and Jerry Kappel (rhymes with apple) saw the for sale sign in front of the Johnson Home at 5631 University Avenue in 1974, it was love at first sight.  Ms. Kappel reports that it was autumn and Irvington's trees were ablaze with color.  The young couple had no idea of what awaited them. They took the plunge and began to negotiate with the Cooney family who were selling the manse for $29, 900.  By December, they had the keys to their new home.  Immediately, the couple discovered problems.  Raw sewage leaking from pipes, water dripping through several ceilings, broken windows in the upper stories, and bird colonies roosting in the the home's storied towers were just the beginning of problematic scenarios for the Kappels.  Ms. Kappel worked as an art director for an ad agency while Mr. Kappel, a local actor, ran a children's theater.  Neither of the duo brought home riches from their jobs so when an engineer warned them that the back tower could collapse without some serious repointing and roof work, the couple likely wondered what they had gotten into.  Ms. Kappel laughed as she told me that they named the home "Ugly Gables" after removing layers of bird dung on the bricks of the upper story.  She quickly noted that the title was one of affection and that even though she has not lived in the home for twenty-four years, she still dreams about the place. The Kappel family dwelled in the home from 1974 to 1990.

In the top three photos, taken in 1974 and 1975, you can see what the home looked like when the family moved in.  A side porch, removed in the 1990s, still existed as well as several trees around the house.  The color photo, taken in 1975, reveals the condition of the back tower.  The bottom photo, taken in 1990, was shot in the last year that Carol and her daughter Chase lived in this very special home.

Carpenter Realtor photo of 5631 University Avenue in 1974...note the former side porch

5631 University Avenue in the winter of 1974

Tower trouble in 1975

Gorgeous shot of Johnson Home in 1990...photo by Carol Kappel

The photos and stories for this post are courtesy of Carol Kappel.

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