“Hope House” on Hwy 74

"Hope House" Hwy 74 09-23-2014When I was a kid on our way to Advance, we’d always keep an eye on a house being built on Hwy 74 just west of what is now I-55. (I-55 wasn’t even a gleam in Dwight Eisenhower’s eye back in those days.)

The builder got the basement finished, put tar on the “floor” of the house to make it a roof, and got no further. I’m pretty sure someone lived in it because I vaguely remember smoke coming out of the chimney.

I think there was a church that took that approach on Independence, William or Bloomfield Road. I know of a couple of houses in Cape that did that, too, but I can’t place where they were.

Called a “hope house”

"Hope House" Hwy 74 09-23-2014When I Googled “living in basement until house is built,” quite a few hits came up. The practice of doing this was common enough, I found, that it had a name: it was called a “hope house.”

Modern day building codes and permits would make this hard to do today, someone pointed out, because they call for firm start and end dates. A construction project that went on for five or 10 years might not get approved.

When I slowed down to make the turn down the lane to the house, Mother said, “I figured you were going to do that.”

The basement walls look like they are in pretty good shape, and I could see that interior walls of concrete block had been roughed in. Several windows at ground level would have let in light. Unfortunately, the old tarred floor had deteriorated to the point that it was letting in more light than the windows.

In the end, there was more hope than house left. I wonder what happened to the owner.