Jolene Struebbe, Beautification Chair


Our feature garden this month comes with a HOUSE! There are so many aspects to Beautification and rescuing a derelict property in North Avondale and making it your home definitely beautifies our neighborhood. Here is one family’s story.

I’d like to introduce you to 3981 Lowry Avenue, home of Chris and Monica Human.

What made you decide to rescue this house? 

We moved to North Avondale from Fairfield. After living in the suburbs for so long we expected this to be a big transition. With not knowing what areas within the city might suit us, we decided to rent a house while we explored different areas. Thankfully we landed on Lowry Avenue at 3986. We were immediately welcomed by neighbors and in no time fell in love with our street and all the families around us. 3981 was almost directly across the street from us. For the first few months, we honestly didn’t even know there was a house there as it was so overgrown you could not see the house from the street. We later learned that 3981 was referred to in the neighborhood as “The Creepy House”. It had been abandoned for about 7 years, was boarded up, had been vandalized, and all the pipes had frozen and burst. One day I walked across the street and around the property. When my wife came home from work that evening, I told her “We’re going to live in that house one day”, to which she replied “yeah right!”.

Had you done this type of thing before?  

We had done minor renovations…a bathroom here and there, a basement, a kitchen. In 2010 we bought a commercial building on Short Vine and did a major renovation there but nothing to this extent. Every inch of 3981 Lowry needed help…roof, electric, plumbing, HVAC, you name it.

Had you looked at others?  

We had looked at other homes requiring renovation, a few in Northside and Norwood.

Any in North Avondale? 

We had looked at a house one street one over on Dickson that was eventually sold at auction.

Any tips for others who want to rescue/restore homes?  

It is not for the faint of heart. It is not as easy as they make it look on TV. However, in the end it is worth every minute.

How long did it take you?  

It took us just about a year to complete the renovations.

Any big surprises?  

There were many surprises along the way. With a house of this age, every wall you open, or layer you peel back can bring a new challenge. The biggest surprise by far was about 6 months into the project, a city inspector stopped by just to make sure we knew that the property had been condemned several years before (this little fact had not come to light in any of the due diligence done before purchase, not to mention as permits were pulled, plans submitted, etc.)

Did you do the work yourself?  

We did a good amount of the work ourselves but did hire in subs for some of the major projects like plumbing, electric, and HVAC.

How did you choose your colors and plant materials?

Colors were chosen by my wife after much research online. For plant materials, I spoke to a couple of different nurseries getting input, but one of my main considerations was that I wanted perennials. I want things to be as maintenance-free as possible while still adding color and life to our landscape. I like to be able to trim things down in the fall and for them to pop back up in the spring. Then with a little mulch and water we’re ready to roll.

(As shared by Chris Human)

North Avondale Litter Report

Saturday 10/23 was Xavier’s Community Action Day! We had an excellent turn out for litter with 11 volunteers including two families (due to it being Family Weekend), a Xavier professor, Grace from North Avondale, and Xavier President Colleen Hanycz and her husband. We collected about nine full 33-gallon bags of trash over about two hours, focusing on Dana Ave. Because the President was there, we’re looking forward to some professional photos to come out in a future newsletter!! Big thanks to Xavier students, families, and staff!

Also, a reminder that I am still looking for a co-chair to help organize pickup events and brainstorm other solutions!

Your neighborhood Litter Chair, Coral Weigel

NANA Community Gardens

October is ending on a high note for our Washington Triangle garden at the intersection of Washington and Clinton Springs. Without leadership for much of the year, it had become a tangle of weeds and undesirable plants, but things are changing. We are grateful to two women who stepped up to manage this garden and are on the way to make this a beautiful garden of blooming plants once again – keep your eye on this space.

We met with several landscape designers who suggested adding a few trees to the triangle. We planted 6 Allegheny Serviceberries at the back of the property that will not interfere with the traffic view. We’ve cleaned out many of the weeds and undesirables and have attempted to arrange more of the same varieties together.

A big thank you to Cecil Thomas, who lives nearby, for his help in clearing the weeds for us and providing water in a very dry period.

We sponsored a workday with several Xavier students and other volunteers on Saturday, October 23 to spread mulch, plant the trees, and put the garden to bed for winter. We are anxious to see this garden next spring as the narcissus and then iris begin to appear. It may take some time to bring this garden back, but with our great team, especially Terri Byczkowski and Megan Rothe in charge, we are excited to see the results. Thank you Terri and Megan and all the volunteers who have helped to renovate this garden space.

On the workday with Xavier Students at Washington Garden October 23 – Cecil Thomas stopped by to see how the garden and tree planting was coming along.  We continue to search for gardeners who might be willing to maintain the small Dana roundabout plantings and the planted border garden south of Marion Park. If you might be interested but would like to know more about what this would entail contact Judy Evans at .

Judy Evans, NANA Community Gardens



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