199 Albert St is younger than I would have estimated. At my vainest moments I hope people say the same about me, of course, but I rather doubt it. Real estate is hard on the knees.
Good houses, though, are not like people. They settle much more graciously into middle age. This very fine brick home at Union and Albert, for example, overlooking the university campus, was built in 1926. To my mind, at around 92 years old it’s just reaching its peak. I wander these elegant hallways, these rooms left and right, and climb these staircases to peer south over the university campus, and muse gently on how constant the house has remained while all around it has changed so dramatically.
I attended Queen’s in the 1980s and did most of a film degree (it’s a long story). So I’ve walked these streets and met with friends in a lot of these houses, sat on front porches talking too loudly and mostly annoying people who were very much like me now, I suspect, which is to say a little older, and a little more reserved, and every one of them with an eminently defensible opinion on acceptable noise levels.
We change, is what I’m saying. And that may be true of 199 Albert St too.
For a very long time the house has been a single family residence and, to be honest, I’d dearly like to see it stay that way. It deserves to be well-treated, burnished to a 21st century glow. Take a look at the sunroom with its exposed beams and the views over the long backyard all the way to the impressive studio. Or linger a while in the cork-floored kitchen, or the second sunroom off the master bedroom. The floors in the attic have just been refinished and if you did that everywhere you’d have the Home and Garden people calling you up for an appointment with their TV crews. It’s that special.
However. I think it’s just as likely, more likely even, that this house will sell to someone with kids coming to Queen’s. The kids will call up their friends and the group of them will spend four or five years with the absolute best seats in the house. Because you could turn the four bedrooms into seven in a weekend, and still keep some serious, well-lit common space. And then rent out the studio separately. Or put a ping pong table in there and suddenly who needs the pub any more?
There are options, then. All of them feasible, and sensible. Most of them would have been unimaginable 92 years ago, when there were green fields to the south and west. But then if you’d have asked me a dozen years ago whether I could see myself ending up a middle-aged real estate agent I’d have asked you to step outside.
Early offers, if there are any, will be reviewed on Friday June 29.