Mary Topolski and her family bought a substantial home at the corner of Taylor St. and Peterkin Ave. in 1951. They purchased it from the original owner who had it constructed in 1945. Mr. Topolski died in the ’90s and Mary died in December 2002 while shoveling snow from her front porch. When I first met her in 2001, she was more than 80 and a little feeble. She was something of a pack rat and her house and yard were filled with memoribilia [and just plain trash]. She was a master gardener and there were once eleven different subspecies of lilacs arranged in her yard, which by the 21st century was densely overgrown. Her 150×125 ft. lot comprised three of the present day lots. There was a smaller house behind the main one, a playhouse and a garden shed. There was a swing set and kids’ bicycles from the ’50s in the yard. I used to notice her on certain summer evenings, standing in the yard next to the adriondack chair, admiring the shrubs and trees while a radio played country music at a low volume from the kitchen window.
After her death, the house sat there for three years while negotiations proceeded with her descendants [none of whom lived here, apparently]. The house had all of its original features, siding, trim, windows, the whole thing intact. An original cast in place concrete basement, a masonry fireplace — elements pretty common elsewhere but more rare in Anchorage. Most of the Mt View houses of the ’40s had minimal if any foundation. Mary’s house probably had hardwood floors throughout and was framed with douglas fir floor joists and studs and rafters.
There was what seemed to me a deliberate misinformation campaign to justify the house’s destruction. Rumors circulated that her house had been condemned and she was camping there against the municipality’s wishes. The party line from the people that knocked it down [not without some difficulty — the basement took weeks to break apart] was that it was too far gone due to a lack of maintenance. I just didn’t see it. The roof had obviously been replaced in the last ten years. It was in need of paint and TLC.
The lack of any kind of effort to preserve what was the oldest and most well-built house in the neighborhood was a complete disgrace.