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PROUD HOMEOWNERS // Crescent Lake

The porch and the park were what made Carol and Bill Henderson fall in love with Crescent Lake.

"It is just pure joy to have the use of that porch," Carol said of the 10-foot-wide veranda across the front of her home. It overlooks Crescent Lake Park, popular all day long with joggers, cyclists, skaters, dog walkers and youngsters who clamber on the swings and playground equipment at the north end.

Her view from the porch is right on the park:

"That is the magic part . . . We see all the activity in the park, the beauty of the trees and lake, it's just wonderful and was a very, very strong motivator for us to buy that house."

The Hendersons moved to Crescent Lake Drive two years ago after living for 25 years in Largo, where they raised their family. Crescent Lake lies between Fourth and Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) streets and between 12th and 22nd avenues N. It's near the interstate, near downtown, near the waterfront and near shopping, antique stores and restaurants.

"I always liked the idea of a small neighborhood with a cozy feel, if you will, which I feel Crescent Lake has," Carol said. "The large trees give an umbrella feeling, and the proximity to the streets and to other neighbors . . . gives a sense of neighborhood, a sense of identity."

Homes in Crescent Lake range from bungalows to Dutch colonials to wood-frame vernacular houses, built from the teens through the present.

In the past 18 months, sales in the neighborhood have ranged from about $60,000 to $196,000, said Shirley Rigo, a sales agent with Prudential Florida's Northeast office. "I've seen a big change" in this and other older neighborhoods, she said. "Neighborhood association involvement has really helped. It really tends to help pick up a neighborhood."

The Hendersons' 65-year-old home, which will be open for tours in Sunday's Parade of Neighborhoods, is a combination of old and new. The original house was refurbished about 10 years ago by former owners, who redid the oak floors and installed vinyl siding but kept the telephone niche in the living room. The next owners built an addition on the back that holds a breakfast nook, family room, bath and laundry on the first floor. Upstairs is a giant loft with a balcony that Carol Henderson is thinking of turning into an exercise room.

The Hendersons opened their home for an earlier Parade of Neighborhoods, "and we were overrun with people," Carol recalled. "It's good for the neighborhood. The house is so visible, it goes a long way to promote the neighborhood. Even though we've been there just two years, we've seen a resurgence of activity in the neighborhood. People are adding on and refurbishing but still keeping the neat old stuff."

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