Garvanza welcomes the revival of a neighborhood landmark

Photo by Katrina Alexy

Photo by Katrina Alexy

Saturday’s open house at the Dr. Smith Residence attracted a long line of people curious to see the interior of the Victorian-era home after an extensive renovation and clean up.

Until renovation work began last year,  the 1886  home had been a forgotten relic hidden by a jungle of overgrown plants and trees in the corner of a Rite-Aid parking lot at  Avenue 63 and Garvanza Avenue.   But on Saturday, visitors donned white booties (got to protect those newly refinished floors) and toured the interior, featuring original windows and frilly Victorian-era wood work.   The renovation was the work of new owner Brad Chambers, who has restored several old homes in the area.

The home was built for  Dr. John Lawrence Smith, a physician, horticulturist and one of the founders of the Garvanza Improvement  Assn., which played a role in connecting the previous owners with Chambers to save and restore the home.

The main house underwent a second story addition in 1925 and a second two-story home was built in the 1910 on the large property, reports Charles Fisher, local historian.


Photo by Current Events/Eastsider Photo Pool


Photo by Current Events/Eastsider Photo Pool


Photo by Current Events/Eastsider Photo Pool


Photo by Current Events/Eastsider Photo Pool


Photo by Current Events/Eastsider Photo Pool


  1. Amazing! Such hard work. Thank you Mr. Chambers for preserving this piece of history.

    Anyone know if the exterior paint colors are the final palette?

  2. We were so happy to visit and tour this incredibly restored house. I’m so glad there are people that care about the historical significance of our neighborhood, Garvanza. It was great to meet more of our neighbors there as well!!

  3. Tina Gulotta-Miller

    Thank-you to the Eastsider for coming to our event and for the great write-ups of the tour. The Garvanza Improvement Association and the Highland Park Heritage Trust were happy to help showcase this amazing transformation in the Garvanza-Highland Park historic district. The GIA has been working on another property in the district that will be going through a similar transformation so stay tuned for that. Please join the Highland Park Heritage Trust as your membership helps us to carry out the important work here in the communities of the Northeast. We were thrilled by the crowds on Saturday that showed up and not only came to see the house and grounds but bought memberships to the Trust, book and, cash donations. Neighbors from within the community and adjacent communities brought their families. And finally thanks to Brad & Wendy Chambers for their generous support in making this event possible and the incredible restoration of this important historic property.

  4. From a question asked over 30 years ago (“What is going on with that house?”) by Rosa Rivas to a chance conversation Tina Gulotta-Miller had with the owner 10 years ago while working to save another property, and ultimately Brad Chambers’ passion for architecture and restoration, the success of this moment is tied to driven people who are dedicated to their neighborhood, history and safety. While we celebrate this beautiful restoration, adjoining longtime neighbors are sharing how much safer they feel walking by the house now that it is restored and lived in. The diversity of those who lined up to walk through a home was also a good reflection of new and established residents confirming why they make this neighborhood their home. Thanks to all that cared, contributed and lent a hand, including the City Council office and numerous City agencies who often do not get the thanks for a job well done to make this change a reality. Driving by at night, this house is now a lit beacon for those who had the fortitude to see this through to the end – and new beginning.

  5. The restored house has definitely spruced up that corner. The addition of new oak trees both around and in front of the property will make that corner one of the envious streets in NELA.

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