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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Cribz: 1205 Broad Street is about to get a noise complaint

Peta Barth and Owen Duffy, both `22, fill their home with music and color. Photo by Ariel Richards.

During the harsh winters of Grinnell, Iowa, it’s more appealing to look out the window at the winter wonderland than it is to go out there yourself. Good thing the residents of 1205 Broad St., Peta Barth `22 and Owen Duffy `22, have the perfect bay windows for both watching snow fall and students rushing to Grinnell’s Humanities and Social Sciences Center. 

“I think the windows [are] my favorite part of this house because they’re almost from the floor to the ceiling. It’s like six or seven feet tall and south-facing. It’s pretty great,” said Barth. As they said this, golden hour sunlight fell through the windows and onto the chair they sat on.  

 Directly across from the windows is one of the house’s two radiators. They cannot control the radiators or the heating, but “when they’re hot you can lay on them or sit on them,” said Barth. 

“Or dry your clothes on them!” added Duffy.  

 In addition to watching the same people hurry to class each day, they also enjoy looking at their landlord’s house just across the street. “You never know when they’re watching you … so I like to stand in the window and shiver so that they know to turn on the heat,” said Barth.  

There are many instruments scattered throughout 1205 Broad, including a large double bass that sits in the entrance to their main living room. Music is a key part of Peta and Owen’s lives, and in addition to the double bass there is also a box drum, a couple of guitars, a record player with many vinyl records and a keyboard setup with a microphone.  

“We’re lucky our neighbors don’t complain. We haven’t had a complaint this semester, it’s good. Some days like he [Duffy] is playing music all day,” said Barth. 

1205 Broad St. used to be one huge house but was split into three separate apartments. Some of the walls, like the one separating Barth and Duffy’s bedrooms, were simply doors that had been screwed shut. Other walls, however, are made of sturdy wood and have many colorful and uniquely patterned pieces of art and fabric hanging on them to add softness to their home.  

“The walls with wood paneling are my favorite wall because they’re just warm and cozy. This is just an old looking house with its arches and the nice tile floor over here. There’s just so many little old features,” said Barth. 

In addition to the fabric hanging on the walls, the cloth couch covers are another unique feature of their home.  

“The covers of these couches were sewn by some past resident, and they made me pay for them. There’s like a Venmo rollover where they’re like, ‘Oh, someone made us pay $80 when we signed the lease,’ and I feel like each resident has been doing that to the next for many leases. Like each time someone is just like ‘Venmo me $80,’” said Barth. 

Barth plans on ending this tradition when they move out.  

Near the bay windows and other pieces of furniture are two plants and a shelf with various knick-knacks. On the shelf is a collection of stuffed animals and small toys, slowly expanding over their time living there, meant to make the house homier.  

The features and decorations of their house highlight how comfortable they are with each other. The two met during their first year at Grinnell when they both lived on different floors in Cleveland Hall. They grew closer over time and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and students were sent home, Duffy was one of the friends Barth ended up staying the closest to.

Peta Barth and Owen Duffy, both `22, look out at passersby from their infamous bay windows.

When it was time for students to move back to Grinnell for in-person classes, Barth began reaching out to peers and Facebook for landlord numbers. After looking through pictures of potential homes, they signed their lease in June of 2021 and moved in in August. 

“We didn’t see the house before we bought it because I was looking at houses online during quarantine, and so I didn’t know what to expect. When I first got here, I was really worried it was going to be small but I opened the door and saw the whole place from the back to the front. And we have two living rooms! It was lucky,” said Barth.  

Finding a roommate was not difficult for Barth, as Duffy was a perfect fit.  

“I was like, ‘I want to live with Peta!’” said Duffy.  

And still, there’s more than meets the eye about 1205 Broad Street. If you see Barth or Duffy around campus, feel free to ask them about the dark spooky basement with a cat living in it or their sewing table covered in countless pieces of colorful fabric. 

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