Yellow house needs to be saved

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My Views

By Stephanie Jessie

 On Main Street Mount Washington, there is two-story yellow house with intricate white details decorating the front.

The colorful paneling and wide boards always left 7-year-old me fantasizing about what life what like in Mount Washington circa 1920. Even now, at 25, I find myself fantasizing about running a bakery on the bottom floor and making the second floor an apartment to live in.

Come October, those fantasies are gone unless we as a town step up and raise our voices and our wallets to try and save the structure from being the first to go on demo-day when CVS starts to build.

We’re already losing the central garage and the Crazy Red’s/Towne Pharmacy building. But we have a chance to save the yellow house, even if we can’t save the spot.

In talking with mayor Barry Armstrong, he confirmed there had been discussion about saving the house by moving it to a new location. Ideally, the city would move it back to the corner lot that is currently being cleared behind the (now old) library.

The problem comes down to money (doesn’t it always?)

Armstrong was told the estimated cost to move the building is $70,000. That doesn’t include the repairs that will have to happen to fix anything that might have broken in the move or updates the building already needs. Those, he said, could run anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000, if not more.

Unfortunately, that’s a price that he fears the council won’t be able to stomach.

Unless, of course, the price can be lowered and members of the council hear from the residents they represent how much we, as Mount Washington citizens, would like to see it stay.

For lifetime Mount Washington resident, historical society member and current councilmember Alice Harris, the buildings we’re losing hold memories of eating tuna sandwiches, waiting after school for her mother to finish her shift at the garage and visiting the dentist and doctor that lived there.

“I understand that we can’t save every building and not every building is worth saving,” she said. “The Barnes house could be an exception if it is determined that it is still sound enough to move from it’s current location to a nearby parcel owned by the City of Mount Washington, and the cost does not outweigh the benefit of saving a beautiful old structure and the potential rental income.”

It’s not unusual to read the comment online that someone just “loves our little town.” And I get it; I love it, too. But, with each new franchise that arrives, our little town grows a little more into a larger city.

However, we’ve been given this unique opportunity to show just how much we do love this town.

Think about the benefits of keeping this house:

1) We preserve a piece of Mount Washington’s history for future generations.

2) The house can turn into multiple rental offices to help small-town lawyers and insurance agents the chance to stay in town rather than drown in expensive strip-mall spaces.

3) Those rental offices can bring income to the city which could then be put toward saving other buildings that are in fear of being torn down one day.

4) The plot of land the house gets moved to is a plot of land that won’t be sold for another bank or tire shop.

5) The building is on the national registry of historical buildings and puts the city on the map for history-buffs wanting to visit these notable locations.

I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other reasons. If you can think of one I’ve missed, send me an email at sjessie@pioneernews.net or send a message to our Facebook page at facebook.com/pioneernews.net and I’ll add them to my list. 

Let me know if you think I’m wrong, too. Maybe I am one of the only ones in town who’d like to see it stay. Or maybe I’m getting everyone’s hopes up that it is worth staying and, no matter what we try, it’ll come down anyway.

All I know is our time to act is limited. Come October, that yellow house with the intricate porch details will either will moved a street back or crushed to dust.

As Harris told me, there is still quite a bit of charm left in that building. 

Let’s keep that charm around our city for many more years to come.