Set way back from the street on a grassy lot, the dump at 97 Cumberland Ave. is easy to miss. But once noticed, it’s hard to pass by without glancing over, just to see whether this haggard house is still standing.
Its façade is a striking patchwork of mint green siding and dark chocolate wood, punctuated by a cherry red door. Piles of old boards, a carpet of shattered glass, and two inflated rubber balls — apparently abandoned there by neighborhood children — adorn the front yard. Wasps have taken up residence in the mailbox, pigeons in the eaves, and cats are often seen darting in and out.
A small paper sign taped onto a window around back identifies the owner as John Edwards and provides a contact number for his real estate agent, Hannah Meier. Meier was reluctant to comment on the property other than to note that it “had not been lived in for quite some time when [Edwards] bought it” in May of 2006, for $92,500.
Edwards was much more forthcoming — a nice surprise for a dump hunter accustomed to being either ignored or threatened by owners of derelict properties. “I love houses and I bought it because I felt sorry for it,” he said via e-mail. “I promise it will be beautiful again eventually.”
Edwards said he replaced the roof shortly after he bought the house, and intends to begin re-siding it this month. He said the slow pace of improvements is due to the fact he’s doing all the work himself and frequently takes trips out of town.
It’s hard to imagine this house looking any dumpier, but according to Edwards, it was a lot worse when he bought it. “It might look like it’s in a state of disrepair, but it’s slowly gotten better over the past four years,” he said.
Neighbors said the previous owners, the Arnolds, did not maintain the property. Edwards said “nothing was done” to the house during the 30-year period they owned it. He thinks the last family member who lived there moved out five or six years before he bought the place, leaving behind a building with significant water damage due to a badly leaking roof.
“It [was] not so much trashed as ignored,” said Edwards.
— Emily Guerin