Goodbye, Stromsem Home
By Fritz Hirst, RCA President
A little Cape Cod was demolished on Wyndale Lane last week. The house itself was unremarkable. But beyond the façade is the rare story of an original Rollingwood resident.
In 1949, Harold and Sally Stromsem purchased a newly constructed home at 7416 Wyndale Lane in Rollingwood’s Ridgewood Village subdivision. The Stromsem’s were among the early pioneers. At just under 1,400 square feet, it was their American dream. Harold lived in the house for 64 years, remaining independent, sharp, and vigorous well beyond his years. He died last May. He was 97.
Harold and Sally were together for 56 years until Sally passed in 2002. Harold retired from the federal government in 1978. He was already in his eighties when my wife and I moved to the neighborhood.
Harold referred to nearby houses by their original owners. He said the land on which my home sits had been given to the original owner in consideration for road construction services in the neighborhood. Harold pointed to towering maple and black walnut trees that he planted on a nearby patch of county land.
Delighted by all the action, Harold would take pictures of trick-or-treaters who came to his door on Halloween. Months later, he would hand out the printed photos to parents as we wandered by.
The Stromsems raised two children in their small Cape Cod – Bill and Nancy. Now retired himself, Bill told me the house was a financial stretch for his parents in 1949.
Last Monday, Bill Stromsem stood in the street as heavy equipment dismantled his family home. The house was smashed into pieces in a systematic and callous fashion. The earth shook. Within hours, the house would be gone.
Bill and I talked for a short while. A small house on valuable land, we agreed there was probably no other future for the little Cape Cod. The house had been sold to a developer. A new 4,000 square foot house is going up at 7416 Wyndale. Surely another young family will grow roots there.
As it crashed down before us, I was awash in the home’s history – a simple house made extraordinary by the longevity of the patriarch who lived there until the end. Harold was an original neighbor; and with his passing so goes part of Rollingwood’s heritage. In mourning the loss, Bill said he is comforted that the home had known only the Stromsem family.