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“It was a neighbor that dubbed us ‘The Boys from Cherry Street,’ actually,” one of the duo told me when I asked about the genesis of the name. “We fought so hard to get this house, and stalked it religiously, so they began to recognize our car. Once we finally closed, they celebrated us with a toast of bubbly in the street. ‘Now you’re the Boys from Cherry Street!’ she said!”
The road to this 1920′s colonial revival in Jacksonville’s Avondale neighborhood may have been long, but it was certainly worth it for this couple. Meet Tyler & Julius.
This stylish couple is comprised of two true Florida natives. Julius, a military brat, grew up in Middleberg with his family while Tyler hails originally from Leesburg, a bit further south. Both ended up in Jacksonville for their studies; Tyler attended UNF while Julius is a Jacksonville University alumni who then went on to Georgia Tech. So if it wasn’t a chance meeting at school, how did these two meet?
“We actually met online,” says Tyler with a smile, “but that was back before the scary days of these applications that tell you exactly where the person is.” That was over six years ago, and after two years of commuting down from Georgia to spend time with Tyler, Julius finally threw in the towel and moved back to his hometown area.
“We lived in a few different places before we finally got the home,” Tyler tells me. “For a while we were in those pink apartments across from Publix on Riverside Avenue – that was poison! You could just walk into Publix anytime you wanted! Like, ‘Hmmm, I wonder what’s in the bakery today..’” and then he lets out an infectious laugh while Julius smiles and shakes his head.
“I really, really wanted something historical,” Tyler continues about the boys’ house hunt, “but we almost gave up. Julius was ready to stop the process and just build a new house.” It was after a nine-month wait and during a vacation in Spain that the boys got the call – the house of their dreams was finally theirs. “I felt like it was all Julius could think about then! I said to him ‘Let it go, enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime trip!’ I mean, Hello! We were in Spain!”
Finally, the boys arrived to their long-desired abode, and the blog, The Boys From Cherry Street, was born. “The idea was to have something that worked for us as an online scrapbook, but could also be useful to other people,” Tyler described. “When we moved in, it was tough, because it was a short sale, so obviously emotions were invloved. The house had a lot of memories, a lot of love and care, and a great deal of history. We wanted to honor that.”
“Julius likes to say that I do everything for the blog, which is not true,” says Tyler as he shoots him a look. “Well, you do most of it!” counters Julius. “No, I write a lot of the copy, maybe, but you’ve done most of the historical research, and that’s just as important.”
As the boys take me on a tour of their home, they throw in a lot about the history of the house. “This used to be a nursery,” Julius points out when we’re out in the yard. “Apparently, they sold seed packets with the address on them, and people would still write to the house asking for more seed packets long after the nursery was gone.”
And in a bit of modern history, landscaping again would play an important role for these new tenants of the home. “That was really my first bonding experience with your father!” Tyler says to Julius. “I wasn’t ready to landscape,” Julius tells me, “but then all the neighbors did, and I couldn’t just leave this awful cinder block wall up out front with weeds taking it over. The neighbors called it ‘The Great Wall of China,’ and that just wasn’t going to work.”
It was when Tyler was pulling apart that cinder block wall with Julius’ father that it happened: “Roach explosion!” says Tyler with a wide-eyed expression. “They were just everywhere, and so Julius’ dad grabs this can of gasoline and starts pouring it all over them.” He stops to laugh. “All I kept thinking was how the neighbors told me that they were very eco-friendly and didn’t use pesticides in their lawn. I was worried about what in the world they must be thinking if they were looking out the windows at that moment! That, and if anyone lit a match that the whole house would go up in flames.”
The house itself is absolutely gorgeous. Modern and restored furniture play together in notes of balanced neutrals and pops of color, while personal touches give an established, home-y feel. Upstairs, a frame containing stationary celebrating the Centennial of the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. hangs outside the bathroom. “We used that for our house warming invites,” Tyler tells me. “I saw it while I was visiting and thought, ‘How perfect!’”
Some of the rooms are still in the process of renovation, which tells the story of how far the house has come under the boys’ care. “Beyond the superficial changes like paint color and molding replacement, we’ve had some sewer line issues, and what I like to call a ‘wall goiter.’” It was in repairing the ‘goiter’ that a contractor told the boys that the original plaster used on the house contained horsehair. “It was moments like those where you say to yourself, ‘Am I going to do this cheaply so I can get the job done, or are we going to spend a little more to repair and renovate this home in the right way?” says Tyler.
“When you buy a historical home, it’s really a commitment to preservation, and we feel strongly about that.” The boys talk about respecting the history of both the home, and the neighborhood they reside in. “We are so committed to the Riverside/Avondale Preservation Society,” Tyler tells me with a smile. “We love attending their events, and learning about the history of the area.” Tyler shared with me that he recently applied to become a member of RAP’s Board, and feels hopeful about his appointment. “I would really love to become part of the neighborhood’s legacy. Having young professionals pick up the rallying cry of restoration is important, and I want us to help in any way that we can.”
And these boys from Cherry Street not only help their own neighborhood, but people living in historical homes far and wide through the blog. “We want people to see that it’s a project and a process, but it can be a lot of fun.” The boys shared with me that if you buy a home that is zoned in a historical neighborhood that insurance entitles you to restore it properly. “Not a lot of people know that, and it can help a great deal with the costs of renovation and repairs.”
Beyond help and “restoration red flags” with historical homes, a visit to TheBoysFromCherryStreet.com shows readers all kinds of DIY projects, as well as interactive reader-submitted content, such as their “Doors Project.” You can also follow the boys on their adventures off of Cherry Street, and see their commitment to making Jacksonville a “bold and equal city.“
If you’d like to catch up with The Boys, you can join them during Riverside/Avondale’s Luminaria this Sunday, December 15th. They are helping organize a “home crawl” during the evening, with different signature drinks at each stop.
Follow The Boys from Cherry Street on their blog for information on restoration, life in a historical neighborhood, and adventures abroad. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter (@BoysFromCherry), and Instagram (@theboysfromcherrystreet).
For more behind-the-blog pictures from our interview with The Boys From Cherry Street, be sure to follow us on Instagram @SitCJax.