On my way home from Kroger just after dark tonight, I was met with a strange sight: a Christmas tree aglow inside the P.J. O’Connor House at the corner of Lincoln and 32nd.
I had lived in the neighborhood for over 15 years before seeing any light at the grand 19th century house, which some may remember as having lattice work nearly completely covering both porches. Only in recent weeks have their been lights as a full restoration has gotten underway.
Back in May, I wrote a City Talk column about the house when the Historic Savannah Foundation was trying to find an appropriate buyer after acquiring the blighted property through the nonprofit’s innovative revolving fund.
The house was subsequently sold to Jim Abraham, a SCAD historic preservation professor with some real credentials. I got to know Jim and saw his thoroughness first hand when he spearheaded the restoration of the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home. I was thrilled when he purchased this other O’Connor house (yes, P.J. and Flannery were related) from the HSF.
And it was sort of thrilling tonight to see it lit up, even if the lights were partially obscured by the scaffolding.
From the Savannah Morning News coverage of the recent sale:
Built in 1885, the P. J. O’Connor House is an architecturally significant Victorian house featuring 2,310 square feet of living space. Located at the corner of 32nd Street and Lincoln Street, the property includes period details like original fireplaces, hardwood floors, molding and gingerbread detailing.
The house was originally built by Savannah attorney, alderman and philanthropist P.J. O’Connor, who served as the National President and National Director of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and was a cousin of legendary Savannah author Flannery O’Connor.
You can get a sense of the quality of interior details in this shot I posted to Instagram back in May:
That particular block of 32nd Street was pretty ramshackle when I moved to Thomas Square back in 1996. The block has looked much better in recent years, but the entire neighborhood has been dragged down by the big neglected house on the corner.
But no more.