When Joanne Mariano learned that her Brookside home was going to hit the century mark this year, she was delighted.
By JENNIFER BHARGAVA
Special to The Star
When she found out seven other homes on her street were also turning 100, she decided it was time to party.
“This centennial is a landmark time — none of us will be here for the next one,” Mariano said.
The chiropractor, along with her business partner and co-homeowner, Sandy Lane, reached out to neighbors and local historians to mark the occasion with a block party and giant 100-year banners draped over each colonial style home, which all sit on West 62nd Terrace.
On Saturday afternoon, neighbors, friends and family members house-hopped to six of the century-old homes, while enjoying homemade food, bottled wine and lots of laughter.
They capped off the evening at the three-story home of Mariano and Lane.
One of the party-goers, Eric Youngberg, a local historian, was thrilled and kind of awed by the celebration. After all, he pointed out, having eight homes on the same street celebrate a centennial during the same year, is a rare occurrence.
“Typically, one hundred years ago, houses were developed individually, with one built here and one built there, over several years,” said Youngberg, a board member of the Wornall Homestead Homes Association. “It’s not like today, where a developer builds a whole street of houses completely at once.”
He saw the party as not only a celebration of Brookside’s history, but also a time for neighbors to get to know each other better.
His sentiment was echoed throughout the festivities.
“Brookside is kind of like a little village in the middle of a big city,” said Jayne Dreyer, who lives in one of the 100-year-old homes with her husband, Kelly. “This area is a very tight-knit community and it was evident from the moment our moving truck arrived on the street nine months ago. Everyone is very welcoming.”
As an architect, she admitted it was fun to take a peek at her neighbors’ homes during the house-hopping.
“It’s interesting to see that stuff like floors and fireplaces and radiators have stood the test of time because it really speaks volumes on how well houses were built 100 years ago,” she said. “And I love that each house isn’t too old-fashioned — you can still incorporate modern décor. These type of houses offer a forgiving pallete for a lot of different styles.”
Plus, many of the Brookside homes still offer quirky reminders of a bygone era.
Eight-year-old Ava Cusumano loves all the strange gadgets in her 100-year-old house, such as the button on the dining room floor, which was once used to summon a maid, and the contraption outside her house where coal was once delivered.
“You can’t really tell my house is old,” said the young party-helper, pausing to think. “Well, maybe you can in the front.”
Those amenities, however, are one of the reasons people fall in love with their homes, Youngberg said.
Since he moved to Brookside five years ago, he has been astonished and pleased by the interest area residents have in their homes. Homeowners often ask him questions, and he tries to research and answer them as best as he can. Many residents also do their own research and present the findings to him.
He believes it is that historical element, along with the welcoming spirit, that draws people to Brookside.
And according to enthusiastic party-attendee and Brookside homeowner, Jennifer Grant, his theory is correct.
“This is not a cookie-cutter neighborhood,” said Grant, who dreamed of living in Brookside since she was a kid. “Every season is beautiful, even winter. It’s nice to drive around and see the icicles on trees and children playing in the snow. I never want to leave Brookside, ever.”