The Talbott-Wall House is now featured on the national old house website Old House Dreams: https://www.oldhouse...-fort-worth-tx/
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Posted by John S. on 09 July 2017 - 02:40 PM
JohnS, the total list I posted includes 2 properties on the east side of Samuels, one south and one east of the TW House. I think there might also be one in the court that is listed. Others in the court have considered listing their properties but are kind of waiting to see what happens to the others first.
In the transitioning situation we have at the moment in the Samuels Avenue/Rock Island neighborhood waiting and seeing what comes next is about all we can do. Logically, the east side of Samuels (away from the west side where the bluff overlooks the Trinity River) is less coveted than the bluff side. however, from from a development perspective, the level, regular lots located there are just as suitable for construction as were those on the east side of the street near Nash Elementary School. Only the downtown views are limited and admittedly the frequent trains can be noisy, (they are on the Bluff side too) but as far as location and nearness to the downtown, they are the same as the west (Bluff) side. I expect that once the Bluff side is fully redeveloped-and I won't even hazard a guess as to how long that might take-then the east side of the street between Samuels Avenue and the BNSF railroad tracks will begin to be bought up for development. As stated in my previous post, it took about 15 years for development to reach northward to the 900 block of Samuels (there was also a Recession during that time) so I wouldn't advise anyone to start packing up their things yet. I had once thought that by now we would have sold and moved on, and it could still happen, but it would be foolish for me to try to guesstimate when. Developers aren't known for sharing their plans with the public until a long planned project is almost ready to break ground. Even then, sudden changes in market conditions and other unforeseen changes can alter the timelines or even lead to a project being shelved indefinitely. The best approach in my opinion is to take a cautious wait and see position which includes not making any plans until a property is under contract with a firm closing date. Some of the properties Embrey Development bought were pending under a sales contract for well over a year. That is quite a different buying/selling approach than is customary in the general housing/residential marketplace. Those property owners contemplating selling should also be wary of anyone calling, making them an up front (usually low) phone offer, as well as promising a very quick closing. We've had a couple of those already. In any case, Andy, good luck if you decide to sell your properties. Otherwise, its nice to have you as a neighbor.
Posted by John S. on 28 May 2017 - 01:18 PM
Just curious, is there a separate message thread on the recently re-announced Carleton Properties apartments project titled "Rocklyn" in the 600 block of Samuels Avenue? The prior project was announced in October 2013 but was ultimately cancelled or shelved a year or two ago. An informal neighborhood meeting with a Carleton representative a couple of weeks ago revealed a new design with more units planned than were in the previous project. The ground breaking is supposed to happen by September with completion coinciding around the same time as the Embrey Development project (variously called The Garvey House Apartments; The Kelley, and The Domain) which begins at 761 Samuels and continues to the 900 block on the west side of Samuels. I will be happy to scan and send or try to upload the "Rocklyn" conceptual drawing if it hasn't already been linked to. When asked why the name "Rocklyn" was selected for the project the Carelton official said it was based on the "Rock Island" name (part of the neighborhood has been informally called Rock Island for decades because of the former Rock Island railroad tracks that run through the neighborhood. However, I'm not sure the west side of the 600 block of Samuels was ever considered part of the traditional Rock Island area. Still, I'm Ok with the new name and I like the new design better than the cancelled version from 2013.
Posted by John S. on 25 May 2017 - 03:50 PM
Did the name change on this project? I've seen some articles calling this The Kelley at Samuels? Maybe the thread title needs to be updated. If I recall correctly, the Kelleys were the last owners of the Garvey-Viehl house.
I too wondered about the name change when I read the article. The late Gordon and Brenda Kelley were early preservationists on Samuels Avenue with them buying the Garvey House in 1972, if I recall correctly. Mr. Kelley was instrumental in the first historic resources survey of Samuels Avenue in the late 1970's. (many of the houses in this rare survey are no longer extant; they provide an idea about the magnitude of losses since the 1970's) The two Kelley sons/brothers resided on the Garvey House property until they sold to an investor several years ago. I'm sure the Kelleys would be pleased to have their names memorialized in this manner. They saw potential in the Garvey House and the surrounding neighborhood at a time when few others did. Brenda Kelley was a spirited, colorful character and her enthusiasm about the preservation of the old homes on Samuels Avenue was helpful in convincing my spouse and I to buy our 1889 home on Samuels in 1989. When she asked me to engage in historic research about the Garvey House I did not hesitate to consent. It was a preservation high point when the RTHL (Registered Texas Historic Landmark) dedication occurred with former House Speaker Jim Wright and Judge Tom Vandergriff were present. In summary, either The Garvey House Apartments, or The Kelley would both be appropriate. I would expect to see some kind of official sign soon on the newly cleared land announcing the upcoming apartments. (maybe the intended name will be revealed as well)
Posted by John S. on 25 May 2017 - 01:37 PM
In the many years I've been involved in historic preservation issues, moving the Talbott-Wall House is one of the most gratifying victories and saves to date. I too would like to add my personal thanks to the many individuals who helped take the Talbott-Wall House rescue plan to fruition. (By the way, John, I was told a potential buyer for the Talbott-Wall house is available but I'll PM you on that) John is correct in that back in the early 1990's the Texas Historical Commission's architectural historian, Tory Laughlin-Taylor, visited Samuels Avenue and she concluded there were too few surviving and contributing historic structures for a contiguous historic district on Samuels. Instead, she proposed there could have been individual property nominations for inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places. On the other hand, a number of prominent and long time neighborhood property owners were downright hostile towards any suggestion or plan made to preserve the historic character of Samuels Avenue. From this group of anti-preservation minded property owners, came the initial land sales to developers around 2003-2004. With that action, the present and future redevelopment path was established. The Recession years of the last decade merely provided a short reprieve, but now development city-wide is again in full swing. At this point, its unlikely that any plan, except a piecemeal approach, can guaranty the survival of the remaining historic homes on the west side of Samuels. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 but from my personal observations two things presently stand out from which future lessons can be learned.
First, I believe that once the scope of a development project has been identified, those historic structures in the path of development should be proactively and thoroughly salvaged if moving them is not feasible. Workers removing historic/period elements were busy right up until sunset late yesterday trying to get salvage materials taken out of the two cottages near the intersection of Bennett and Locust streets. Some useful additional materials should have been salvaged prior to hazmat remediation such as posts/columns, period windows, doors, and period door hardware. Unpainted door and window casings/trim were removed by the hazmat workers and placed in a pile next to the white cottage, However, later, before they could be reclaimed, they were scooped up and disappeared into dump trucks. I managed to salvage a few of these trim pieces but a better timed and carefully coordinated salvage plan should have been put into place. Certainly its a moot point now as both cottages were disintegrated within 30 minutes early this morning. Now their remains are on their way to a permanent home in the landfill.
Second, the last and largest (Post?) Oak tree was brought down a few minutes ago near the northwest corner of Samuels and Locust streets. A trench was excavated next to the large tree and after some of the larger limbs were dismembered, pressure by the huge excavator was put on the main trunk causing the century old Oak (probably older as it was larger than some of our trees which were growing when a circa 1910 photo was taken of our 1889 home. ) to topple to the ground with a loud crash. Some Cedar-Elm trees of dubious merit were marked and saved but both Live and Post/Pin Oaks trees were destroyed. I still maintain that if such mature trees must go, at the very least they should have been harvested for their hardwood lumber. (for firewood if nothing else) Quarter-sawn Oak boards cost a fortune these days if you can find any. But now that the largest Oak is down (a few other damaged Oak tree trunks have been pushed off to the sides) that too is no longer a relevant topic for discussion. Happily, the ancient Heritage Oak near Bennett street is being preserved and integrated into the apartment complex design.
Overall, I can't complain much because Embrey Development has more than met local requests to save what could be saved. The Garvey House is shrouded in plastic sheeting right now but like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, the refreshed exterior should soon be a sight to see.
Speaking of inspiring sights, the newly cleared views of downtown from the rise where Bennett and Morrison streets meet are nothing short of stunning. One can view the entire downtown skyline with the panoramic view ending on the northwest with the channel of the Trinity River. In the many years we've lived in the Samuels Avenue-Rock Island neighborhood, I wasn't aware such beautiful vistas existed.
Thanks again for everyone's efforts to help save one of our neighborhood's architectural gems. I also applaud Embrey Development for demonstrating that the goals of development and historic preservation are not always mutually exclusive.
Posted by John S. on 11 May 2017 - 11:02 AM
The c. 1910 Rominger House at 905 Samuels is no more. Demolition of the house began right after 7 AM (its just feet away from our bedroom window) and now, nearing 11:30 AM, only the chimney remains standing. I and several of my neighbors as well as stopping-by onlookers have taken photos of the demolition but if you've seen one house reduced to rubble by huge pieces of equipment then you've seen them all. I've nicknamed the large excavator with a vicious biting bucket "Jaws" as observing it in action makes it easy to understand why. In just a couple of hours, this 3,000 foot Foursquare type house was rapidly reduced to fine rubble. There are still about 4 houses to go for demolition then two garage apartments await the same behind the Garvey House. Changes to the Garvey House include removal of a back portion to be replaced with a wall of glass on the back side facing west. In the meantime, H.D. Snow and crew are preparing the 1903 Talbott-Wall house for its move. The latest I've heard is that the move is being scheduled for early next week but I also noticed that no concrete work has occurred at the home's new site at the corner of Samuels and Pavilion Streets. A cured out concrete foundation must be ready before the house can be moved and placed down on it. Or, perhaps the house is moved over the foundation framework and then the concrete work is done? It's my understanding about the Garvey House (769 Samuels) that all of the Cypress clapboard siding will be removed and replaced with Hardie synthetic boards having matching clapboard profiles. I believe that the Kelley family tried to scrape all of the old paint off the house after they bought it in 1972 but lead based paint was still available then so it could still have lead paint contamination. When "Jaws" was using its heavy bucket to pound and break out the concrete in the bottom of the swimming pool at 905 Samuels yesterday, every time the bucket hit the bottom, our house shook. I hope no damage has occurred to our 125+ year old fragile foundation. Otherwise, the momentum seems to be picking up with this large apartment project.
Posted by John S. on 12 March 2017 - 08:54 PM
Thanks for making your first Fort Worth forum post and welcome to the Garvey House discussion. The damage to the stained glass landing windows began years ago (I knew the two brother-owners well as I also did their elderly Mother for whom I spent 7 months researching the history of the Garvey House and the Garvey Family in 1992) . Lula Foster-Garvey, William B. Garvey's spouse, was the granddaughter of Baldwin Samuel the street's namesake. Repairs were made to the staircase stained glass landing windows in the 1980's but the replacement panes are not exact matches with the originals. The stained glass windows were afforded some measure of protection when acrylic plastic (Lucite?) storms were added but they too have since been damaged and deteriorated. A greater loss in my opinion was the wheel cut glass transom over the entry door (that had a wheel cut wreath design) which was broken by vandals tossing a metal pipe at it about 10 years ago in the night. Another wheel cut window with a swag design in the parlor has been damaged by BB pellets. Only two small entry wheel cut sidelight windows survive intact today. I suspect the front facing window seat window (an Inglenook) going up the staircase originally had some kind of art glass either wheel cut, leaded and beveled, or stained glass. The Kelley family bought the house in 1972 and it had already suffered years of decline. A prior owner allegedly took the wheel cut entry door pane down to their lakehouse . Old house restoration was in its infancy back then and the standard approach for most old house owners was to keep some of the original details but otherwise modernize the interior to suit modern lifestyles. It appears the Garvey's themselves decided to update the interior as the plain brick fireplaces in the front parlor and dining room reflect the less ornate Arts & Crafts era from 1910-1915. (the year both Garveys passed away) From the many period homes I've seen from the 1890's, surely the original fireplaces were hardwoods (quarter-sawn Oak was a favorite) and probably had columns and design motifs reflecting the Classical Revival Queen Anne style (sometimes described as "Free Classic") houses of this period. Foster-Munger was a giant Chicago based house parts company at the turn of the last century and you can find matching millwork items seen in the Garvey House in their 1900 catalog: https://archive.org/...age/n1/mode/2up The Oak mantels they offered were common across the country at the time. Mr. Garvey was either on a tight budget or merely wished to be economical because the millwork throughout the house is the more economical Southern Yellow Pine including the staircase newel, pocket doors, and staircase balustrade. The only hardwoods are found in the patterned inlaid parquet flooring which could be ordered from catalogs (requiring the customer or installer to send in careful measurements) like this one from the 1890's: https://archive.org/...age/n0/mode/2up
The finished product was shipped by rail to the customer although doubtful the Garvey House floors came from the linked Cincinnati supplier. Most lumber yards of the day had millwork and flooring catalogs customers could order from.
But the Garvey House is not going to be about local history or a museum house; instead, it will be renovated to be used as the leasing and management offices for the new apartment project pending on Samuels Avenue. How much of the original interior to be retained is up to the developer to decide. I'm glad you took documentary interior photos of the Garvey House (maybe you should take some of ours which dates to 1889?) as perhaps in another 40 years when the still to be built apartments are nearing the end of their service life, someone else may want the Garvey House to more closely resemble its original form and configuration. Things change over time.
Posted by John S. on 06 March 2017 - 01:50 PM
Quick update: Embrey Development has apparently since closed in recent days on the properties to be used for the Garvey House apartments. This morning, (Monday, March 6) a pre-fab construction fence has gone up along the boundaries of the project fronting Samuels Avenue. With this minimal change, the scope of this pending project is finally visually evident. It's my understanding that actual construction work is still several weeks away but this now confirms that the project is underway; or at least the initial phase of it. I suppose we should appreciate having a "front row seat" to this new project but I am concerned about the streets around us being dug up, dust and trash blowing onto our property, as well as the increased traffic volume and noise close by as heavy equipment moves in to start moving dirt around. I have spoken to the project construction manager/engineer and feel that Embrey Development is trying its best to be a good neighbor. I wish them well and look forward to the Queen Anne Victorian style Garvey House getting a long awaited renovation to again make it the historical/architectural focal point of our neighborhood. I had almost given up on this day ever coming due to delays and a similar apartments project by a Dallas based Developer being cancelled several years ago.
Posted by John S. on 21 February 2017 - 11:40 AM
That kept me up past my bedtime last night. Thanks for the link. I had heard some rumblings that demolitions would start in February, but I haven't seen anything yet.
Neither have I seen any activity. A fairly reliable source hasn't confirmed the developer closing on their properties yet. (I counted about a half dozen property sellers within the project) However, they may have different closing dates set for different properties. It makes sense to not spend the land acquisition money until the storm-water drainage issue with the Corps of Engineers is resolved but this resolution has been pending for over a month.
I'm very pleased to see the Heritage live Oak west of the northwest corner of Bennett Street is slated to become a landscaping centerpiece. When we bought our Samuels Avenue property in 1989, the elderly owners next to the Heritage live Oak claimed the estimated 400-500 year old tree was used for hangings in early Fort Worth but that kind of passed-down folklore is seldom confirmed by diligent research. I suspect very few Old West type hangings actually occurred in early Fort Worth and those that did were conducted in public accessible places, not on an obscure privately owned locale on the bluff bank of the Trinity. Early maps do indicate a "Live Oak Point" located on the north end of Samuels near the historic, Traders Oak (Park). Today, there are only a few surviving large live Oaks near the Traders Oak but surely there were many more extant a century and a half ago. The near Bennett Street example was probably spared the cross-cut saw or ax by some long ago landowner. Thankfully, its centuries of survival will be honored and commemorated as part of this new development. I highly commend the developers for doing that. Given that we are now only a week away from the end of February, it's likely any initial site work won't happen until March at the earliest. These large development projects do tend to extend years from concept to completion. I first became aware of it in November 2015. It may take until November of this year (or longer) before leasing of the completed apartments is underway but only the developers know their exact project timeline.
Posted by John S. on 24 November 2016 - 10:45 AM
Zetna and John S., it sounds like this is a house worth saving, and I'm betting there are parties working toward that goal, as we speak.
John S. this is in reference to your comment about Fairmount. Supposedly, at one time, there was a map in one of our former Mayor's office that showed proposed land uses. This map was drawn before the creation of the Fairmount-Southside Historic District. It generally indicated almost all of the neighborhoods inside the loop as commercial/medical, or industrial uses. Ryan Place was an isolated residential enclave surrounded by business uses. Fairmount was a Medical District, and Rosemont and Worth Heights were shown as all industrial. I never saw the map, so it is only a rumor that it ever existed. I also don't recall what the uses for parts of the North, East, and West sides were indicated.
John Roberts, thanks for the encouraging information about the Greathouse cottage. I can also easily believe your account about the proposed use map showing most areas inside the loop south of Downtown as being redeveloped for medical, industrial. and commercial use. Some of that development has come to pass as we all know. The back-to-the-cities movement which believes American cities can provide great residential housing inside an urban environment was barely a blip on the cultural trends screen back in the early 1980's. Suburbia was where residential living was at from the post WWII era until over time a change in attitudes towards city living began to evolve. Jane Jacob's in her influential 1961 bestseller, The Death and Life of Great American Cities outlined the advantages of cities and why they remain relevant in modern times. Thank goodness people listened in Fort Worth and the gritty industrial city-scape proposed in the map never came to fruition. More could have been preserved and restored but rather than look at the glass as half-empty, we should celebrate the things that were accomplished in recent decades. Saving and restoring the Greathouse cottage makes sense as houses of this vintage and style are almost in the exceptionally rare category in our city. Portland, Oregon, which is caught up in the West Coast real estate development frenzy, recently passed a Deconstruction ordinance for structures built in 1916 or earlier: https://www.portland.../article/582914 Perhaps the concept that even the materials used for house construction from a century or more ago have value is valid. Fort Worth could demonstrate an enlightened attitude if the small number of 19th century structures remaining here could be afforded the same saving ordinance, or better, offered some incentive for saving. Demolition is easy and cheap; perhaps too much so, but if we value the architectural character of our city remaining from the past (as we do our city's fabled Western heritage) we should do more to save and make demolition a less attractive choice for those small numbers of old historic architectural assets we still have. I will watch this message thread and keep my fingers crossed for a positive outcome.
Posted by John S. on 23 November 2016 - 03:37 PM
When we moved to the Fort Worth area from Abilene, TX in the mid-1980's I recall exploring this area and the old residential neighborhood (the Padilla Addition) east of Hemphill. It was generally a faded, seedy area of neglected rentals, boarded up vacant houses, and some burn outs. But here and there among the blighted properties were some architectural gems from the late 1890's and first decade of the 20th century. I can remember when Washington Street on both sides of this example was solid houses going up to Rosedale and going west towards 8th there were sporadic late Victorian era homes still standing there as well. Nearly everything is gone now, casualties in a never ending demolition war of attrition that decimated the old housing stock. Especially sad was seeing the area near JPS Hospital lose more of its old housing stock with every new expansion or added parking. There were a few architectural interesting houses there around May, Jennings, and St. Louis streets which should have been kept and restored but that's all a moot point now. Going north towards Rosedale there was an enclave of late Victorian era cottages between Rosedale and the nearby Hospital district to the north. All also gone now.
In summary, this is a rare early survivor and one of the last vestiges of a now almost vanished neighborhood. In style, it is a modest Queen Anne style cottage with the centered turret. I've seen very similar designs in popular turn of the last century house planbooks from William A. Radford, Herbert C. Chivers, and Fred T. Hodgson. Extant Victorian Queen Anne style houses with towers and turrets are a vanishing species in Fort Worth and I'd hate to see this one also disappear. Moving it to the nearby Fairmount-Southside district would seem like a no-brainer but despite its one dollar price tag, the costs of moving, setting up on a new foundation, and getting utilities hooked up are substantial. Sadly, Fort Worth now lacks even one relatively intact late 19th century neighborhood. In other cities, their old Victorian era neighborhoods are often the most sought after but we have surrendered our old residential architecture to the wrecking ball in return for the new and modern. If the protected Fairmount-Southside Historic neighborhood had not been created shortly after we came to the area, I shudder to think what it might look like now. I can only hope and keep my fingers crossed that somehow this rare example of late Victorian architecture will get a reprieve from the fate of demolition. Frankly, I was surprised to learn it is still standing but that's probably not for long.
Posted by John S. on 17 October 2016 - 01:57 PM
The Fort Worth City website is like navigating a Byzantine maze...I spent over an hour looking for the decision rendered concerning the visual design of the upcoming Garvey House Apartments that were sent back for re-design in September. (?) As far as activity around the future site of these 353 apartment units, there has been none in recent weeks which makes me wonder if the project has hit a snag of some kind. I could not find a .pdf for the Design Review Commission's most recent meeting and the city's search query form is useless unless you know the exact words to enter and submit. Where should I be looking on the city's site? Every commission/board has their own page but no meetings minutes or link to the next meeting agenda. Only the Federal government is more convoluted in its public accessible data, but not by much. Can anyone help me to find out whether the revised design (and the progress of the project itself) was approved or not?
Nevermind; I found it using Google http://fortworthtexa... Mtg Agenda.pdf but would have never found it via the City's website. Somewhere there are videos of these board meetings but that is not needed at this time. Hmm...no video of the Oct. 10th meeting exists so I must ask, was the design(s) submitted approved? If so or not I'm curious to see what the apartments just feet away from us are going to look like?
Posted by John S. on 02 September 2016 - 02:29 PM
Thanks for sharing, Austin55. I'm pleased that the name of the new project may honor in its official name the history of the Garvey House as well as preserve its form for the future. The wife of the original owner William B. Garvey, was Lula Foster-Garvey. Her mother, who lived right next door at 761 Samuels (since demolished) was Mary Cornelia Samuel-Foster, one of the daughters of pioneer landowner and street namesake Baldwin L. Samuel. The Garvey house rightly deserves the honor as it is a tangible link to early Fort Worth history and the origins of the Samuel's (as originally spelled) Avenue neighborhood. The apartment renderings seem rather plain compared to the conceptual renderings earlier in the year but they look typical for the Fort Worth market. (kind of a West 7th vibe) I do hope the wide metal awnings indicate a "Green" or LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficiency & Design standards) approach to construction which would be innovative in this neighborhood. I guess the fine tuning of the final design will come between now and the October DDR Commission meeting. Mentioned was made that Samuels Avnue/Rock Island had not yet been included in the Downtown Design Review District (which requires new construction to be at least 3 stories in height) so theoretically, single family homes could still be built in the neighborhood at least until the DDR standards are adopted. I've had some inquiries recently concerning what is allowed to be built here and I thought the DDR standards already applied, now I'll need to correct that error. Some single family residential in the neighborhood's undeveloped areas might soften the probable future of Samuels Avenue as being nearly all apartments. But developers and the City will determine the future fate of this oldest of Fort Worth neighborhoods and I can only hope they get it right.
Posted by John S. on 02 August 2016 - 07:25 PM
You are welcome, Mr. Roberts. We're thinking about renaming our place "Fort Apache" (after the 1981 movie) as we may be approaching a "Gran Torino" situation here because the few neighbors we rely on to keep an eye on each other are going to be forced to relocate because the places they are at will soon be demolished after developers acquire the properties. The developers did us no favors by opting out in advance of buying our block yet encircling it with future development. I'd like to have the genius who came up with that devilish plan be our guest for a while and personally soak in the neighborhood "atmosphere". The time between now and actual construction may be a year or longer and from my 65 year old perspective, that experience could become quite perilous. When we began our "urban pioneering" adventure on Samuels I was in my 40's and was blessed with good neighbors on all sides. I sometimes feel like I'm being punished because I supported Historic Preservation on Samuels for nearly three decades. Anyhow, we will try to survive until the new development surrounds us but if any developer thinks we will capitulate and sell our property at fire sale prices, then they are very misinformed. Right now I'm on the verge of taking our property off the market in perpetuity no matter what the consequences, I don't like being pressured into a "sell or else" situation (no one would) so my estimation of developers generally is approaching my estimation of a developer-turned-politician who's been in the news recently. (for all the wrong reasons) Anyhow, the Fort Worth Police, my wife, and I, will surely become best of friends in the days ahead. We were founding members of the Samuels Avenue Citizens on Patrol and with the decline in neighborhood crime, we had looked forward to a hopeful future in this oldest of Fort Worth neighborhoods. We will survive the dark days ahead and hopefully so will the historic Garvey House.
Posted by John S. on 02 August 2016 - 08:32 AM
A Visit to the Garvey House...
Late yesterday afternoon my spouse and I walked up to the Garvey House. Sunday night at 11:30 PM there had been a suspicious pickup with a loud rumbling muffler pulling into and out of vacant lots on Bennett Street which runs parallel to Samuels Avenue and due west of it behind the 800 Block. I noticed yesterday morning a mattress and box springs had been dumped off Sunday night in the yard of the boarded up small 1950's crackerbox house on the west side of Bennett. I wanted to check to see if everything was OK at the Garvey House which has been the victim of repeated vandalism and neglect in recent years. As I approached the Garvey property, I noted that protective plywood had been removed from a window in the northwest corner of the house and one of the pieces of wood trim to the side of the window was missing. I walked up to the window and noticed the lower sash glass had been smashed and someone had taken the lower sash weight out of the hollow space behind the removed trim. I'm frankly not sure if it is even possible to secure that historic home from miscreants short of posting a security guard on the premises 24/7.
Three low income rentals are next to the Garvey House (I know the absentee landlord who lives in Saginaw but he speaks little English) and as I walked by one of them I counted 10 cars in the large parking lot behind the rental facing Bennett Street. (aren't there rental occupancy number restrictions in our City?) Between the three house rentals, there must be several dozen people residing in them. I deeply regret that we no longer have a Police storefront on Samuels which was very near this area of rentals. Neighborhood patrol officers used to keep an eye on activity there. But the storefront was permanently closed during the Recession due to city budget constraints and I've noted increasing suspicious activity in the area especially on weekends and late nights.
I walked by the back door of the Garvey House and someone had pounded on the metal doorknob to gain entry but despite the damage the door was still intact and unbreached. Metal scavengers/thieves are a stop-at-nothing, hardy bunch who often go to extreme lengths to steal anything of scrap value to support hard drug addictions in many cases. One such character who shall remain unnamed woke my wife and I up early in the morning with loud noises back when he was in the neighborhood and we discovered he had acquired an old pickup from somewhere and with nothing more than a Sawzall equipped with metal cutting blades, he sawed the entire pickup into pieces he could load into his old beat up truck to take to the scrap yard. His novel recycling approach put a whole new meaning in the term "chop shop". The same individual once acquired a box springs from a discarded bed and decided it was worth his time to extract every metal spring out of it. It must have taken him hours of work to extract the steel bed springs for probably less than a half dollar's worth of scrap metal. But this individual was always "high strung" and full of energy, if you get my drift, so no amount of work was insurmountable if it yielded a few dollars worth of scrap metal. Thank goodness he departed the neighborhood some years ago but apparently either he or someone of his ilk is now picking on the poor Garvey House. I realize that a long awaited rehab for the Garvey House looms in the months ahead, but in the interim, it's as highly endangered as it ever was in the past. I sincerely hope the beginning of rehab work is not too far off. My wife and I have lived on Samuels Avenue since 1989 and not since the earliest years have parts of it had such a negative atmosphere or look of abandonment. New development cannot come here too soon.
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