Alley House

- 538 Blair Avenue -

Many houses were built on narrow lots, with smaller “mother-in-law” or alley houses built in the backyards. Although a few alley houses can be found in other neighborhoods, most of Saint Paul’s are unique to Frogtown. Alley houses in some cases began as the main house on a lot. When an owner’s financial fortunes improved, the smaller house was moved to the rear and a larger house became the main house. Or in some cases what began as a summer or year-round kitchen addition was moved, renovated and turned into a little dwelling.

Summer kitchens, buildings pressed into service for food preparation in the days before air conditioning, sometimes were detached from early houses and converted into homes or sheds.

Like many older neighborhoods, Frogtown has a number of buildings that were relocated and repurposed over the years. This is one good example. The larger house on the lot, which has charming front and rear porches, was moved here in 1901. It had served as a school building, rectory and weekday chapel for Saint Agnes parish during the 1880s. At that time it stood at the northwest corner of Kent Street and Lafond Avenue. The little alley house was once a kitchen for the larger house.

Frank Lentsch purchased the house from the parish and moved it to 538 Blair Avenue.