JE Martin Shed-Dormer Bungalow
210 East Nelson Ave (ex 205 E Linden)
210 East Nelson Avenue with its shed roof on the front dormer, well hidden by vegetation.
Margaret Polwarth purchased the house as part of the Herring & Wolhforth default in February 1933 and, unlike the prior owners, rented it out pending resale. Michael and Elizabeth Kirby lived there for about a year and half until she sold it to Willis and Emma Bunt.
The Bunts were not a lucky family. Brothers James (b 1880), Willis (1885) and Ralph (1894) and sister Catherine (Katie) (1890) were born in Tannersville, about a hundred miles north of New York City in the Catskills. Katie married Englishman James Smith around 1910. The Smiths moved to Alexandria around 1916, where James was something of a pioneer, opening the King Street Garage at 1400 King St to repair the still relatively-new automobiles showing up.
The business apparently did well, although they suffered personal tragedy. Katie had given birth to Ellen in 1914, and James in 1915, both in Tannersville, and daughter Elsie in Alexandria in 1920. However, two other children had died in childbirth and one at four months old after their move. The garage was a winner, however, and the rest of the Bunt family, Ralph and wife Elsie, Willis, James and mother Mary, moved to Alexandria and all three bothers began working there as mechanics.
An undated photo of Willis Bunt
Ill health continued to plague the family. Katie passed away of her diabetes in January 1927, aged 36. Her husband James died of pneumonia in February 1931. Eldest brother James took over guardianship of the children. With the passing of James Smith the brothers opened Bunt Brothers Service Station at 245 South Peyton Street near the corner with Duke Street.
With his financial future apparently now secure Willis proposed to Emma Dennis and married the 28-year-old from Fauquier County in December 1934. In May 1935 they bought 210 East Nelson from Margaret Polwarth.
It seems that the fates could never leave the Bunts alone for long. In June 1938 youngest brother Ralph suffered a heart attack and died en route the hospital. He was only 43 years old. Five years later, in mid-1943, Emma was diagnosed with cancer; she passed away the following January at 37, leaving Willis alone in the house. Finally, Willis' arteriosclerosis caught up with him, and he was felled by a heart attack in October 1946. Willis had never bothered to draw up a will, probably believing it unlikely that he would survive his younger wife, so the court appointed a commissioner to sell the house and pay out the proceeds to the remaining family, brother James, Katie's children and, surprisingly, his mother Mary.
The house was bought by Sidney and Beatrice Stevenson in November 1947 for $8,500, who immediately turned around and sold it to Joseph and Harriet Varner. Joseph had joined the American Red Cross in 1942 and rose to be assistant director for disaster relief in the mid-Atlantic, and initially they rented out 210 E Nelson to Jacob and Mary Bishop while they continued to live on Masonic View, but in 1951 they moved to E Nelson. A year later, however, he was transferred to the Atlanta office and they sold the house to Bruce and Edna Counts in January 1953. Bruce was a bricklayer with Otis Young Bricklayers and they lived there with his mother Pearl until January 1958, when it was sold again, to Albert and Matilda Baker, who turned around and sold it to Eleanor Montgomery three months later.
The house in 1970, showing the porch already enclosed, although in a different configuration from the current.