Inspired by Andy at Building a Better Bungalow, I got a free 14-day trial membership to Ancestry.com to see what I could dig up from the 1930 Census regarding The Box House, which was built in 1925, 1926, or 1928, depending on which records you believe.
It was a little more complicated than just plugging in the address. For whatever reason, that wasn't working. I would get an "address unknown" sort of message. I found another source online that indicated what enumeration district our street fell under, and then pulled up that document on Ancestry.com, checking it page by page until I found the address for The Box House.
Well, I found out that both units of our two-flat were occupied by renters during the census. The downstairs unit, the one we're currently occupying, had a George and Ethel May Tetlow who lived here with their children, George Jr. and Betty Lou, and George's mother, Nellie. Nellie was born in England, and Ethel May's family came from Canada. George was, unsurprisingly, the breadwinner of the family, working as a salesman for an oil distributor. Checking back to the 1920 and 1910 censuses, I found out he had worked as an auto mechanic and a chauffeur. It seemed he always lived within a few blocks of The Box House.
The upstairs unit, which we are currently renting out, also had tenants back in 1930. George Melberger, originally from New Jersey, worked as a department manager for an insurance company. He lived at The Box House with his wife Claudia and his daughter, also named Claudia, age 15.
Both units were paying a rent of $75 a month, which is $968.26 in today's currency. It was the cheapest rent reported on the block. The other rental properties on our street were renting at $88-$110 a month. Most of the houses were owner-occupied, most of the people in them American-born, and most had foreign-born parents. The block seemed primarily English descent, with a smattering of folks of Belgium and German heritage. Each household had at least one radio, and everyone could read and write.
I couldn't glean who owned The Box House from the census info, but it seems obvious it was built as an investment property, as both units were rented out shortly after it was built. I recall one of my neighbors saying The Box House and the next two properties were all built at the same time, so it's possible that one of the owners of those houses owned this one, too. But that's pure speculation. I'll have to dig deeper and haul myself down to the library and/or historical society for the next phase of research.