When we were first looking at neighborhoods in Detroit, my wife was kind of obsessed with the idea of buying an old mansion in Boston Edison, a neighborhood of stately homes built by the early auto barons and other Jazz Age tycoons. My wife has always wanted a "house with a name" and even at that time you could buy a 6,000 foot castle with a 3-bedroom carriage house for $270,000. Before we decided to leave San Francisco we hastily backed out of a contract on a $560,000 780-square-foot condo in the Lower Haight (a teenager was shot and killed on the same block the night we signed that contract!), so her thoughts on real estate were skewed a bit by that insane Bay Area market.

We still love the neighborhood and I really think it's amazing how the residents have banded together in the current crisis, mowing the lawns of foreclosed homes and parking their cars in other driveways to make vacant homes look occupied. Still, there are the tell-tale plywood and anti-scrapper windows on some of these beautiful old homes. Some of them, like this one on the edge of the neighborhood, are very Miss Havisham.

Some enterprising person should try to rent one of these and throw a kick-ass Grey Gardens party where no one is admitted without a head scarf.


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