Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Wren House at 132 South Arlington Avenue in 1908

The Wren family moved into this lovely new home at 132 South Arlington Avenue in 1908. Sadly, Dennis Wren died just as the family set up housekeeping leaving forty-year old Mary Wren in charge of their five children. Mrs. Wren, whose parents had come from Ireland, used all of her resources to keep the house including inviting her own widowed brother, Bartholomew Griffin and his two children, to move into the house in 1909.  Nine people now crowded into the modestly-sized home.  While living here, the Wren family said goodbye to fifteen-year-old Cecelia Wren who passed away in 1909.  The Wrens and Griffins moved from the house in 1912 for another home nearby on Catherwood Avenue. More tragedy awaited Mrs. Wren at the new house with the death of her brother leaving her in charge of her nephew and niece.  Perhaps even more difficult to bare would be death of her eighteen-year-old son Thomas in 1917.  Thankfully, her other children would live well into their elder years as would she passing away at the age of 71 in 1939.

The historic images below were taken sometime between 1908 and 1910.  The home at 132 South Arlington had just been built and was owned by the Wren family.  The dwelling has just one dormer and it faces south similar to a home at 136 South Arlington so perhaps they were erected by the same builder.  In the top photo, four-year-old Bernice Wren (1904-1980) posed on the front porch of the newly-constructed home at 132 South Arlington Avenue.  Notice the wide open spaces and the dirt still around the house from the construction.  Someone has opened an upstairs window so it must have been a warm day.  In the second photo, taken c1910, Bernice and Thomas Wren posed on the front steps at 132 South Arlington Avenue.  They were clearly siblings! Just look at their faces. Mrs. Wren had put out a potted plant above them.  Sadly, Thomas only lived to be eighteen years old.  The final photo shows the home after a snowfall on February 15, 2014.  You will note that the house has been clad in vinyl siding and the historic front porch was removed at some point in time.

The Wren House at 132 South Arlington Avenue in 1908.  Pictured:  Bernice Wren.  Note the hipped dormer on the south side of the home as there is not a matching one on the north side. You will also note the wood shake on upper story and the original front porch.  

Bernice and Thomas Wren at 132 South Arlington Avenue c1910

132 South Arlington Avenue on February 15, 2014

The historic images are courtesy of the Wren-Griffin family via


  1. I love this. Thank you so much for the pictures and thoughtful writings on our neighborhood.

  2. It is my pleasure! Thanks for your note!