High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pimp My Dell, Part 5: Empty Nest


It's time to bring you up to date on 
the Shady Dell's extreme makeover.

In the past year the 87 year old Dell house has undergone extensive renovation inside and out, including a new heating and air conditioning system, electrical upgrade, a new roof, new decking and restored porches, grading, landscaping,
tree and vine removal and new shrubs. Original Dell rats who marveled at the changes made on the outside are in for the shock of their lives when they see what's going on inside!

Toni Deroche 

* Dell Owner 

* Senior 
New Dellie 

* Violet Hill 
Bureau Chief 

The last time we heard from Dell owner Toni Deroche was last fall when the exterior of the house was being painted and winterized. Work is now underway inside the house and Toni is back to bring us the latest photos.


be my guest! 

Shady, before we go inside..... 

I would like to point out that nearly all of the Dell's windows 
are being replaced, more than 30 in all. 

However, the original 
stained glass windows 
on the front of the 
house facing 
Starcross Road 
will remain intact 
because they add 
so much character. 

As we step inside 
the front door, the 
first thing you will 
notice is that the 
long narrow 
hallway is gone. 
The wall on the 
left side was 
opening up 
the interior 

When we move forward a few paces, do an about-face 
and look back at the front door... 

you can see how the removal of the hallway wall allows 
easy access to the front room. You can also see another 
stained glass pane above the door. This must have been 
one classy house back in the day! 

Let's go through the door on the left in the above photo 
so that we can view one of the areas that was off-limits 
to Dell rats. 

This was once the Ettlines' living room. The bay window is 
one of the many amenities to be found throughout the Dell 
house. Plans call for this space to be divided by a wall and 
become a dining room and office. 

If we go back out to the entrance where we started we 
can view in the above picture a portion of the front room 
that can be used for casual dining such as a breakfast nook 
in conjunction with a proposed eat-in kitchen. 

In the image below we have moved a few more paces back, 
allowing us to see the close proximity of the eating area to 
the middle section of the room where the modern, walk-thru 
kitchen will be located. The kitchen will have an island and 
all new appliances. 

On the left side of this picture you'll notice 2X4s running 
along the interior wall. That's where the kitchen cabinets 
and appliances will be installed. On the right you can see 
one of the original restroom doors that now leads, not to 
blessed bladder bliss, but directly out to the Dell's 
magnificent porch. 

Toni, if I may interrupt you
at this point, I would like to remind readers that it was
here in this room (above)
that generations of Dell rats occupied rows of restaurant booths, munched on goodies prepared by Helen Ettline, listened to the jukebox, and took care of teenage business. In the late 60s the booths were removed and a fooseball table was installed, followed in later years by a pool table. All of it is gone now.

Toni, back to you.

Shady, the photo below, taken from the front door, 
shows the same kitchen area from a different angle. 

Notice those 2X4s lining the interior wall which is now on 
the right side of the frame. In case you're wondering, that 
large stainless steel object on the far left is the original 
Shady Dell soda fountain. It was moved out of the way 
while work was ongoing. Beyond it and just to the right 
you can see that the other restroom door, the one that 
once led to the ladies' room, has been converted into a 

Now let's proceed to the rear of the house and examine 
the picture below. The room that for decades contained 
the Dell's snack bar, stools, grill and soda fountain is 
hardly recognizable now that those familiar trappings 
have been removed. 

The area where the old snack bar was located is destined 
to become the great room with sofa, chairs, TV, etc. 
When we walk through the door in the background we 
enter a narrow room where a completely new 1/2 bath 
and laundry will be installed. 

For many years the room was used for storage but there 
is evidence that it started out as a porch that was later 

The picture below, taken from the laundry at the far rear 
of the first floor, gives us a full length view of this side of 
the house.  The great room which was once the snack bar 

is in the foreground.  The center of the picture is where the 
new kitchen will be located.  In the far background you can 
see the space set aside for a table and chairs that will be 
incorporated with the kitchen and used for casual everyday 
dining.  At this point would like to mention that new 
hardwood flooring will be installed on this main floor and 
that plumbing has been upgraded throughout the house. 
The blue and white door on the left in the above photo 
leads us downstairs to the basement, another area that 
was out of bounds to Dell patrons. 

The basement, which consists of the rectangular room 
above and an L-shaped chamber behind it, has been 
cleared of trash and debris, cleaned, brightened with 
white paint, and a new door installed.  The basement 
will be heated and air conditioned.  It doesn't take 
much to imagine this space as a man cave or rec room 
with ping-pong, pool tables and what have you. 

Now that we've seen the basement and the first floor 
let's proceed up to the second and third floors which 
were also off-limits to Dell customers. 

The four bedroom second floor is being converted into three 
bedrooms with two full baths. 

The main attraction will be a spacious new master bedroom 
that is being created by removing a wall between an existing 
bedroom and the Ettlines' old dining room. 

The Ettlines' dining room, shown above, will be converted 
into a sitting room adjoining the master bedroom. 

Panning to the right gives us a better look at the Dell's 
second bay window which will be an attractive feature 
of the newly created sitting room. 

What used to be the Ettlines' upstairs kitchen (above) will 
now become the master bath and a closet.  A deck on the 
outside of the house can be accessed from this room. 

Layers of old wallpaper throughout the house are being 
stripped away. Walls and ceilings will be getting new 1/4" 
sheet rock drywall and insulation will be blown into the walls. 

The entire second floor will get new carpeting. Bathrooms 
will have tile floors.  When we climb the stairway on the left 
in the picture above we will arrive on the third floor. 

The appearance of the three room attic is changing rapidly. 
The picture above was taken around mid March.  The next 
three pictures below were taken only one week later. 

The walls and ceiling have been stripped. Soon heating and 
air conditioning ducts will be installed. Incidentally, the odd 
shaped custom fitted window visible in the center of the 
main wall is one of the few Dell windows that will not be 

Drywall will be applied throughout the attic.  The walls and 
ceiling will be repainted and new carpeting will be installed. 

Heating, air conditioning, new walls and ceiling, fresh paint 
and carpeting...with all of those improvements the attic 
could easily serve as a 4th bedroom! 

Shady... that completes 
our tour of the Dell house 
which at the moment is 
an empty nest, but not 
for long. Our goal is to 
transform the three story 
brick structure from an 
aging fixer-upper into a 
beautiful, comfortable 
modern home that will 
retain a great deal of  
its original idyllic charm. 
Once the interior work 
has been completed we 
will be staging the home with furnishings, decora- 
tions and accessories including vintage 1930s art deco 
ceiling light fixtures and chandeliers, colorful towels, 
pictures, hanging baskets of flowers on the porches and 
other personal touches that will make the home as warm 
and inviting as possible. 

Toni, that's music to my ears. The next chapter of Pimp My Dell promises to be the most exciting ever. We'll get to see the finished product and I know it'll blow our minds. The attic already looks like Hef's private suite at the Playboy mansion!

Thank you very much Toni Deroche for 
your entertaining and informative report 
and for bringing us another series of 
fascinating and historically significant 

I would like to conclude this Dell update with one last image captured by Toni from that second floor deck outside the old kitchen. It shows us what the barn/dance hall complex looks like today.

Winters have not been kind. The barn is in obvious disrepair. For those of us who made it our home away from home all those years ago it's nearly impossible to believe that this shabby shack is the same spot where all of that magic happened, the legendary hangout that once rocked and rolled with hundreds of teenagers a night, a place where
the psychodramas and the traumas of countless youth played out, a sanctuary wherein is recorded our own
version of American Graffiti and dwell our fondest memories. The long-term fate of the barn remains uncertain. Dell rats can only hope that it will not be reduced to rubble but will instead be preserved forever.

Have a Shady day!


  1. It is wonderful to know that the Dell is being restored and will be better than ever thanks to the very attractive Toni. I can hardly wait to see the finished project that will no doubt be amazing. It must be fun for you seeing pictures of areas of the home that Dell Rats were not allowed. Will you actually be taking a tour of the finished project Shady? Oh, and did I mention that Toni is very attractive. Have a great day and a wonderful week.

  2. Odie - I double checked and yes, you DID mention that Toni is attractive! (LOL) Yes, it's a lot of fun for Dell rats to be able to see areas that were off-limits including the large attic. Did you know that the Ettlines harbored battered women up there, keeping them safe from their abusive men? It's all part of the Dell's rich and colorful history which continues to be written! Thank you for visiting and commenting, Odie!

  3. I can't wait to see the finished product. I have such a funky vision of The Dell, in my imagination.. It's going to be even funkier seeing it as a modern-day home.. :)

  4. PencilGirl - It's surreal to see only empty space in rooms where I used to eat subs and fries, drink cherry cokes, watch TV, listen to music and play pinball. The Dell is for sale and is going to make somebody a very nice home! Thank you very much for taking the tour, dear friend P-Girl!

  5. Ah, I think it's brilliant that Dell is being restored. I ought to check by to view the finished nest.
    Afterall without history there is no present. I so enjoyed the journey and the tour. Warmly hope you are well on this fine Monday;-)

  6. FA&OF - Hello again, my dear friend! I'm always delighted to find your calling card on my blog. I'm glad you enjoyed taking a look around my old hangout and I hope you'll stick around for more of my rat tales including the final unveiling. Thank you again for your visit and have a splendid day and week in Paris!

  7. Hi Shady. Yes, Odie, we can all see that Toni is very attractive. Grrrr!! Gosh, it's a huge building. I thought for a moment that it was going to be a hotel or something, but Toni says that it's actually going to be a home. That's going to be some home my friend! What do you really feel Shady, about seeing the place you love stripped bare like this. I suppose the only alternative would be for it to go to rack and ruin and perhaps even be demolished, and I guess you wouldn't want that either. It's certainly some project that they have taken on there! Hope the Typhoons keep away from you!!

  8. Thisisme - You're absolutely right! Others have discussed this and agreed that a teenage hangout like the Dell could not exist in this day and age. You can't go back so you must go forward. When you think of the alternatives the extreme makeover and sale as a private residence is by far the best option. As Belle noted on her blog today "C" is for change and for most Dell rats this is a change we can live with. Thanks for coming over, dear Thisisme, and have a grand day in Devon!

  9. wow that is quite a renovation project. Looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

  10. Amber Blue Bird - I'm sure it will make some eyes pop. We must remember that the inside of the house is only part of the story. The outside is freshly painted and refurbished and the large property has been cleared, graded and landscaped. Another factor is location - location - location. The view from the Dell is terrific because the three story house is perched on the side of Violet Hill overlooking the suburbs of York. Thanks for the fly-by, Amber Blue Bird, and have a great day and week, dear friend!

  11. What a wonderful place. I particulary like the windows and I'm glad the new owner is restoring it in a tasteful manor with 1930's style furnishings. Can't wait also to see the finish!


  12. Leanne - So true! The Deroches are getting the job done right and every Dell rat feels lucky to have that family as the current Dell owners. The outcome could have been much different in less capable or less caring hands. Thank you for taking a look around and enjoy the rest of your day in Liverpool, my dear friend!

  13. Thank you dear friend for stopping by and not forgetting me...Wonderful that the are keeping it alive.(although I do love that wall paper!)

  14. Gingeyginge - It's wonderful to hear from you again, my dear English friend! I fancied that wallpaper myself and yet it's seen better days and had to go. When you look at the place even at this stage of the renovation it's hard to believe it was constructed in the Roaring 20s! Have a fabulous week and please stay in touch, Gingey!

  15. I loved seeing the photos and reading about the metamorphosis of the former Dell. It's good to know the bay windows, stained glass windows and hopefully the transom windows will all remain. I know it must be a little bittersweet concerning the change. I have a feeling a hundred years from now the home's occupants will hear the light strains of 1960s soul music.

    As always, Shady, excellent! Thank you!

  16. Cindy - The fairy tale ending would be for an original Dell rat to buy the place, move in, and live there happily ever after with sounds of the 50s and 60s piped throughout the house and grounds just as they were in the old days. An unlikely scenario, but miracles have already happened up on that hill so I'm not ruling anything out. Maybe you and Clint.....? Thanks for bringing your smiling face over to my space and have a terrific week, dear friend Cindy!

  17. When you said the Ettlines sheltered battered women up in the attic my heart was moved. I knew from your posts that they were loving people, but I did not know they did this kind and wonderful thing for desperate women. No wonder they were loved! My grandfather and grandmother used to take in pregnant teenagers in the 1930s and 1940s.

    I would love to live in a house like the Dell. All the windows and rooms look so bright and cheery, and I've wanted an attic since I read, "Little Women". I'm sure it will look amazing when it is finished.

  18. Belle - Your grandparents must have been a lot like Helen and John because the Ettlines also helped unwed mothers, friends who were down on their luck and needed money and even complete strangers who were in a jam. Back then people like the Ettlines and your grandparents didn't wait for agencies and organizations to intervene. They assumed responsibility for helping people and took action. Thank you very much for your comment, dear Belle!

  19. Just stumbled across this but what I have seen looks amazing. I will have to stumble back again soon when more pictures are up.

    visions unto myself

  20. Just stumbled across this but what I have seen looks amazing. I will have to stumble back again soon when more pictures are up.

    visions unto myself

  21. Kara - Yes, by all means come back. I'm pleased to have you here and I hope you'll find lots to like. Thank you for your comment and have a great evening in Kansas!

  22. Hi Shady! So great to be back to see you! The Dell looks GREAT! How exciting for both of you! I'm so glad Toni decided to keep those beautiful upper windows, they add so much character! Also, I completely understand the need to take down the old wallpaper, but I must say it reminded me of my sweet Grandma's house! I miss wallpaper! I wish it were back in style!

    But I digress! Hope you're well, Shady! Have a great day!

  23. Hi, Joanie! It's great to see you back in action and I'm so pleased that you swung by in time to catch our Dell face lift update. Only now am I beginning to realize how little attention I paid to the Dell house when I was a regular patron in the 60s. I never noticed those stained glass windows, the bay windows or much of anything else. I suppose my mind was mainly on the music and the girls. Thank you very much for making time for me today and please come back soon, Joan!

  24. Wow! This is so amazing to see! It's a pity the original features of the house like that amazing wallpaper couldn't be kept intact, but I suppose having someone take the time and effort to lovingly restore a place so rich in culture and history is a great consolation! It really looks amazing, I'm very much looking forward to seeing the finished result! It must be so strange for you to see it like this!

    Emma x

  25. Hi, Emma! Yes, it's surreal to see the old place transformed into something that I no longer recognize. In my heart I know this is the best outcome, however, because the changes go far beyond cosmetic to include safety upgrades, new electrical wiring, enhanced structural integrity, insulation, plumbing, heating and air conditioning. It all adds up to a scenario that has made most old timers very happy. You are a great friend for taking the time to visit, read and comment, Emma. Thank you and have a fine Thursday in picturesque Ireland!

  26. Exciting Shady!
    Adore the brick facade~

  27. Lenore Nevermore - What's exciting to me is the fact that you took time out from your travels in Singapore to visit me and comment. That's very sweet of you, dear friend! I hope you're having a wonderful time way over there. Please stay in touch!

  28. after following your blog for months i'd love to visit what remains of the dell in person...i understand that sound strange to see a place where you grew up and share a lot of memories turned into something completely's a bit sad

  29. Katia - I'm sure you would enjoy strolling around the Shady Dell both inside and out. Yes, all of the changes make me sad in a way but the face lift is far better than a date with the wrecking ball. Thank you for visiting and commenting and have a wonderful day and evening in Italy, my dear friend!

  30. Hi Shady -
    I'm interested in your blog, and actually anything related to the Shady Dell for an important reason: my Mother was born in Violet Hill and lived in the original house long before it became the teen attraction. Her father had it built and she lived there as a little girl before financial problems caused her family to move. As the youngest of her three children, I am interested in collecting information for a family history, and am looking for information about the property after my grandparents sold it.My mother, by the way, is now 99.She is the last of her immediate family but still remembers some details about the house and neighborhood from the time when she was a little girl. (i.e. She remembers sledding down the hill where the York Hospital now stands and the schoolhouse she attended at the same spot.She also remembers the name of her first grade teacher!) However, since she was very young and understandably traumatized when they moved, she has forgotten a lot. Much information is lost in the mists of time I'm afraid.
    Tom Argento from the York Daily Record is going to meet Mother in a few days. Before he talks to her, I'm going to share the pictures of the house and its renovation with her and see if they help jog her memory. While she is quite frail at her advanced age, she is still "with it" and I think she will enjoy seeing pictures of her childhood home once again even if it is vastly different from what she knew as a youngster. I'm so happy it is being restored since it is part of my family's story. I was really afraid it would be destroyed.
    Since Mother is the last of the original 'children' who lived in this wonderful house,she is quite literally living history whose memories I would like to document before a valuable link to the past is lost.
    I'm looking for information that would help fill in the gaps in her memory. If you think you can help me, or know of anybody else who could, I'd appreciate your help. We have a few old photographs of the family and property from the time when my mother lived there. Perhaps you would like to add them to your website as well. Thank you for your blog; it will insure that The Dell and its unique place in history will never be forgotten.
    I hope to hear from you, even if I'm not officially a "Dell Rat"!

  31. Hi, Kathy! I am delighted to hear from you! Your mother can be a tremendously valuable source of information and I would treasure any pictures that I can add to my collection here on the blog.

    I am very eager to make an email connection with you. Please submit another comment to this same post and include your email address. This archive section of my blog is moderated and I promise that your email address won't be published. As soon as I receive your email address I will get in touch with you.

    Thank you very much for contacting me, Kathy! I look forward to hearing from you again soon!


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