A House for $1. Now, that’s remarkable!

UUFE Board Member John Mistrangelo answers The Five Big Questions

Where were you raised, and how?

I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, and lived there until halfway through the fifth grade, when the family moved to Groton, Massachusetts. After a few years, we moved back to New Hampshire, Milford specifically.

My parents were from Vermont.  I find it a bit interesting that they were married in my mother’s church in Northfield, Vermont.  That church, the Northfield United Church was a hybrid, a mixture of Congregational (now UCC) and Universalist – a New England oddity.

How have you made your living?

As a kid, I was very active in the Boy Scouts.  I had planned to work as a professional, or paid staff member.  I attended Springfield College.  Springfield had a long involvement with youth development.  It was originally called the International YMCA College.  Both Springfield and the YMCA played a large role in the establishment of the Boy Scouts in the USA, which is why I went there.  Most of the faculty in my major had degrees in Social Work.  That factor influenced my move away from the Boy Scouts and towards Social Work.

Around 1970-71 at Camp Wanocksett, Dublin, NH. I was Activities Director. I’m on left with two other staff. All three of us were Eagle Scouts. This was a Cooking Merit badge class.

My practice in social work has included all kinds of jobs.  Initially I worked in the mental health arena, first with outpatient services and later with inpatients.  I have also worked with patients dealing with hand injuries, managed a home health agency, a psychiatric hospital, and several inpatient treatment programs for all ages.  

What’s the most remarkable thing that you’ve done?

My wife, Mary, and I purchased a rundown house in Baltimore shortly after we married (43 years ago) for 1 dollar.  We thought we had made a pretty good deal.  It was an end of row house with lots of windows along one side. Baltimore City decided to condemn the wall, and we were left to figure out how to fix it.  We sold our small day sailboat and one of our two cars to help pay for the work.  We learned a lot doing the renovation.  The house turned out beautifully.  When we sold some years later, it was the only realty transaction where we shed a few tears.

1513 E. Fairmount Ave in 1981
John and Mary at 1513 E. Fairmount Ave, in 1982
1513 today.

What’s the next big thing for you?

I don’t believe that you can pick or forecast the next big thing.

How do you serve UUFE and why?

I am now serving on the Board and the Planned Giving Committee.  In past  years I have been on the Finance Committee.  

My mother and father were both very active in their church and community.  My Dad was the Church Treasurer for over 20 years.  He had also been active with the Lions Club, Town Planning Committee, and School Board.  My Mom was active with the local Women’s Club, and Church Committees.  Everyone has something to offer to make this a better church, community or world.  Whatever that ability or resource may be, we have an obligation to use it.

Mary and John Mistrangelo
Mary with Brady, a White West Highland Terrier, four years old.

4 Responses to “A House for $1. Now, that’s remarkable!

  1. This is a wonderful story. So nice to learn about you, John and Mary. That townhouse in Baltimore must have been amazing!

  2. Wow! A lot of sweat equity must have gone into that house. Kudos for improving the city as well as enhancing your own lives.

  3. Thank you John for sharing your story with us. I look forward to meeting Brady, he looks like a fluffy stuffed animal

  4. It is so interesting to learn about our board members. It’s so wonderful that you grew up in such a giving family! I appreciate the work you do at UUFE.

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