It's no small feat to live your entire life in one house, especially when you've raised a family of your own in that house, But that's what Joe Clayton did. He lived in the same house in Egg Harbor City since he was born in 1954. For the past 19 years it was also home to Joe's wife, Karen, and their two children. The four-square style house occupies an oversized lot on a quiet tree-lined street of older single family homes, many dating to the early 1900s. Built in 1919 by Joe's grandparents, Loreto and Potenza Sciore, it stands at the corner of St. Louis Avenue and Arago Street.

"My grandparents built it when they came over from Italy," Joe recalls.

In addition to a residence, the house was also a corner grocery store for more than 40 years. A photo taken in the early 1920s shows Joe's grandparents sitting on chairs on the front porch beneath a sign that reads: "Groceries, Candy, Cigars and Cigarettes."

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When his grandparents passed away, Joe's mother and father ran the store.

"I remember working there as a kid," Joe says. "We had penny candy, canned and frozen goods, all in one room."

Sometime in the 1940s part of the second floor was converted into an apartment where Joe's uncle and aunt lived. When Joe's father died in 1964 his mother closed the store.

Today, the house looks much as it did 94 years ago. The covered front porch supported by stone and wood columns runs along one side of the building. The porch used to wrap around two sides but one side was enclosed to add more space to the grocery store. A back porch was also enclosed and is now a large utility room that also serves as a laundry room.

The first floor includes the living room, and a spacious country kitchen with updated cabinets and recessed lighting, and a full bathroom. Three adjoining rooms are currently used as a bedroom, a den and an office.

The second floor features a large bedroom and a hall bath with an original claw foot tub. A full unfinished attic is accessed from the bedroom. The rest of the second floor is devoted to the apartment, which has a separate entrance from the outside. It includes a bedroom, a kitchen, a living room, office and full bathroom. It's currently rented for $600 a month.

All the rooms are heated by original cast iron radiators. Most of the doors are original solid wood raised panel with glass knobs. The house also has its original wood trim and hardwood floors, most of which are currently covered by carpets.

A full unfinished basement has only about feet of clearance and includes a 5-year-old oil furnace.

The large back yard used to be a garden where Joe's grandparents grew tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables.

"The town used to have a tomato growing competition," Joe says. "It was a big deal."

After a lifetime spent in the same house in Egg Harbor City - population about 4,200 - Joe just made a major life adjustment. Because of a job change, he and Karen have relocated to Houston, Texas.

"It's a lot different," he says. "The weather is nice in Texas but Egg Harbor City is a nice, small town where you see the same people over and over."

For more information on this property, which is listed for $169,000, call Karen Salvo of Century 21 Frick Realtors, 609-652-5600 or direct at 609-513-8127.

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