by Michael R. Allen
There is a certain charm to the row of three stone-faced houses on the south side of the 4200 block of West Evans Avenue. The bracketed wooden cornices and stone sills with carved consoles add elements of the Italianate style prevalent in the United States in the middle-to-late 19th century. The carved moldings around the tops of the window and door openings provide stylistic flair and craftsman’s expression to the front walls. Although two are vacant, the group — which probably dates to around 1888 –seems to be in great shape.
Great shape except for the stolen side walls, of course. Brick thieves have stripped away the most valuable parts of the westernmost house at 4258 West Evans — and the lovely carved stone pieces and articulated cornices are not what has street value now. Red brick does. Not surprising, perhaps, is that these houses are just a half-block west and across the street from a “doll house” that I photographed in December 2009 (see “Depletion, West Evans Avenue” from December 3, 2009).
The battered house is owned by Laverne Henley of Compton, California, and has been condemned for demolition since January 25, 2010. The other two houses are privately owned, and thankfully one is occupied. At least two of these houses should survive into the near future. Perhaps also in the near future will come laws that will curtail brick theft once and for all.