Sunday, October 2, 2011

4-plex Twins: The Serrano and The Alvarado

Here are two 4-plex apartment buildings that are twins, one on Herschel Street, the other on Oak Street in the Riverside neighborhood, Jacksonville, Florida.  They back up to one another, which makes for a pleasant surprise when taking a walk around the block!  The twins are near the intersection with Cherry Street and are an easy four block walk to the St. Johns River (link to map at bottom of post).  First, The Serrano on Herschel Street:

The Serrano, 2830 Herschel Street.  This Spanish-style 4-plex dates to the 1920's, with two apartments downstairs and two upstairs.  The Serrano is a well-maintained, attractive apartment house with arches and columns defining the facade.  This house is an interesting counter-statement to its red-brick neighbors.

The picture above gives a closer view of the entrance and decorative features, including the columns, archways, and stylized name of the house above the address tiles.  Note the french door in each apartment that opens to the front porch.

Here's a closer view of the upstairs porch on one side of the building.  Contrast this with the obligatory (and usually narrow) balconies that provide outdoor space in most contemporary apartment buildings.  There's a reason you never see anyone using them!  Here is a comfortable, shaded outdoor retreat designed for the apartment dweller in an age before air conditioning.

The side view of The Serrano above includes a giveaway to the number of units within-- note the meters for each apartment to the left of the archway.   Each upstairs unit has a back stairway; the ground units' back doors are under the stairs. 

Now let's take a walk around the block (or through the backyard) to The Serrano's twin sister, The Alvarado:

The Alvarado, 2813 Oak Street, identical to The Serrano behind it, and one block closer to the river.  In both houses, the center upstairs window has been replaced by single-pane glass.  Other windows and doors are appropriate to the originals.    Here are two closer views of The Alvarado:

There are apartment houses in the Riverside neighborhood that are more significant architecturally than The Alvarado and The Serrano, but these well-maintained twin sisters are pleasing examples of the old Spanish-style that was so popular in 1920's Florida, and are good citizens in their neighborhood.  Buildings like these were once ubiquitous in the sunshine state.  Clean and simple, they are elevated by their style and are a welcome presence on the streetscape.  Don't you want to move in?

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