Why Rent, When You Could Own?


City Point was one America’s first communities. It’s now part of Hopewell, Virginia, a working class industrial river town with a skyline of smokestacks. Never a big town, City Point boomed with activity for a brief moment when Ulysses S. Grant turned it into a Union shipping port during the Siege of Petersburg.

Later, during World War I, Du Pont operated a large guncotton factory nearby in the planned city of Hopewell. Du Pont soon moved its management into the established neighborhood of City Point. Early Hopewell resembled a lawless Wild West boom town, with wood saloons and hotels lining Railroad Avenue. It wasn’t exactly the best place to raise a child.

The fake ad above is modeled after an actual row house in City Point constructed in 1917, a year before Du Pont closed shop in Hopewell and the boom busted. At the time, the demand for housing was so great that Du Pont was slapping up tar paper houses, hence the reference.  Already, many Americans had tired of the big city, and owning a house with a yard meant you’d made it in life.

Of course, it’s obvious that Bank Street Properties was for the man on the budget. That’s not much of a yard!

Note that the ad isn’t necessarily 100% historically accurate. I tried to stay faithful to the property and time period, but I had to make a few educated guesses. Series inquiries only in the comments section, please!


3 thoughts on “Why Rent, When You Could Own?

  1. Indeed, that is certainly a gracious roofed porch.

    Seriously though, what about $800 up front for $4,500?

    I need this, because I desire to be the talk of the town while living in an exclusive neighborhood.

  2. I found a bunch of old ads for townhomes in NYC and DC, and pretentious salesmanship was commonplace. What really gets me, though, is how many of these developments were bad neighborhoods by even the ’50s/’60s. Times were changing fast and the townhome was a stopgap measure intended to appease people that wanted suburban homes. Of course, in reality, an urban townhome is really just a glorified rowhouse, one of the most quintessential urban structures.

    In hindsight, it’s easy to see how many townhomes were, for a time, doomed. Only in the last two decades or so have we seen such neighborhoods on the upswing again.

  3. Your comment encouraged me to research the difference between rowhouses and townhouses, which I have always used interchangeably. It looks like rowhouses always face the street, are always connected side-to-side and are usually in “less exclusive neighborhoods.” Townhouses can include all of theses elements, but have a bit more flexibility, I guess, so the term is more flexible.

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