Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Family spends four generations in same house

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ChristopherAnderson⁄The Gazette
Eric Kidwell,his wife, Kristina,and their4-month-old daughter, Lillian, posein front of their Riverdale Park home. The home hasbeen in the family for fourgenerations.
There’s something about Riverdale Park that makes many of the town’s residents want to stay in the area—and their homes—for a long time.

Eric Kidwell is no exception. He has lived in his Riverdale Park home for 32 years, and with the birth of his daughter, Lillian, four months ago, his family has lived in the same house on Tuckerman Street for four generations.

Kidwell, who was born in Riverdale Park, moved into the house where he now lives with his wife and daughter when he was about 5 years old.

‘‘My grandfather owned four houses on this side of Riverdale, five including this one,” he said.

Kidwell said his grandfather, who raised him, died in 1997, leaving him the house. And Kidwell never considered moving.

Kidwell lived in the two-bedroom house alone and about three years ago, before he got married, he had the kitchen and bathroom renovated.

‘‘It was a bachelor pad,” said Kidwell’s wife, Kristina, who grew up in nearby Edmonston. The couple has been married for a year.

A month after his daughter was born, Kidwell and his wife decided to build an addition to their home, adding two bedrooms and nearly doubling the square footage of the house.

‘‘It was just more cost effective for us to remodel [than to] buy a new house” to meet the needs of his growing family, he said.

But Kidwell said many of the residents in his neighborhood have lived there for years.

‘‘Most of the people in this subdivision have been living here for a long time...there are a lot of the same people, a lot of the same faces,” he said, adding that the neighborhood has changed very little. ‘‘When I was a little boy there were a lot of kids, but then there weren’t many for a while.”

But Kristina Kidwell said in the past few months, the neighborhood has welcomed four new babies and four other women are pregnant.

‘‘It’s like the neighborhood is being replenished,” Eric Kidwell said. ‘‘That’s good to see.”

Mayor Vernon Archer said the town seems to have a social structure in place that makes residents want to stay.

‘‘Part of it is [that] the fiber of the community is stronger in small municipalities, that are basically neighborhoods,” he said. ‘‘It’s not uncommon to this have folks stick around for a long time.”

Eric Kidwell said he doesn’t see himself living in Riverdale Park for the rest of his life. But Kristina Kidwell said they hope to stay in Riverdale Park for at least the next 10 years.

Archer said most residents don’t move out of Riverdale Park unless they are moving far away.

‘‘At least that’s how I feel. If I’m going to live in the Washington metro area, I’m going to stay here,” he said.