I have read on another blog that the owners of this house are very strict and do not wish to do anything with the home, they wont sell it. meanwhile it sits rotting down. Ive seen photo’s inside, its spectacular but is n need of much love and care to bring her back to her glory. such a shame, this house is spectacular. There was even a roof top type deck, which im sure is not safe to walk on now.
This one breaks my heart because you can see the beauty and love that was originally put into this beautiful old house ~ how selfish of the owners to not sell it so it can be restored to it’s original beauty by someone who would give it the loving attention it needs.
Unfortunately there are hundreds of homes and structures across America in similar condition owned by similar folks. For whatever reason – fear, anger with the world, the insistence that “If I can’t make a buck off it, no one will,” family disputes among siblings and heirs – none of these folks will budge.
In most countries with historic preservation laws, there are “demolition by neglect” condemnation powers for local and national governments. These are not used often or frivolously. As an example, Great Britain’s government recently used these laws to take possession of one of that nation’s most historic homes because the owner neglected it to the point of near collapse. The owner was compensated for the property, and a great house was saved. It is under basic restoration. Once that is complete, it will be sold to someone for private or institutional use, and they will finish the restoration. The sale will include covenants to protect the home from future abuse. These same powers are used by cities and towns to condemn abandoned row houses, industrial and commercial buildings, etc., to get them resold, repaired and back on the tax rolls and protecting the investments of adjacent property owners.
The one significant challenge is for the local and national governments to find the will to use such laws, because you have to compensate the owner, and take responsibility for the building’s security and future. Can you imagine most American city and town councils taking such responsibility?
In New England, one of the region’s great houses sits badly neglected by its owners; the spectacular city block long carriage house and ballroom are ruinous, slipping down a hillside toward collapse. It could pay for itself, but who has the will and the money to help them or step in?
LEAVE THE HOUSE THE WAY IT IS! Yes, the house has beauty but at the same time it has history and a story to why it was left like that. Fixing it and making trying to make it into something it’s not only ruins the house!
Please, a ruin may look romantic, but it has a very limited lifespan, and this house has approached its end with increasing speed. Ruins are subject to arson attack, and water infiltration will destroy the structure of a home like this in a surprisingly short period of time. As a preservationist of some 45 years experience, I have literally hundreds of photographs of similarly neglected historic structures. Almost every one has been lost to this type of “demolition by neglect.” They are now gone. Forever. Hardly romantic, or authentic, or picturesque. Just gone.
Virtually every one of the Western European countries and Great Britain have laws allowing purchase through condemnation of major endangered historic structures when they are allowed to deteriorate like this. Many American jurisdictions have enacted similar laws to save major landmarks like this one. These laws do not constitute an “unlawful” taking, at least not according to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Notice that the brickwork has begun to shift, the windows are all broken out, and the exterior woodwork and roofs are failing. Water pouring into the building through the failing roofs and broken windows causes severe deterioration of the interior structure. It undermines the foundation by “puddling,” or softening, the earth around the building walls. The tremendous weight of the building shifts on the softened ground, allowing uneven settlement. This uneven settlement splits the masonry, which opens cracks in the brickwork, allowing additional water damage and the mortar between the bricks to wash out. In a short time, the walls will split and collapse.
This home will be past saving very soon. In its present condition, it is already past the financial ability of the average family to save it. Yet just a few years ago, an ambitious middleclass family could have tackled this home successfully.
Very soon, even a rich patron won’t be able to preserve it simply because the deterioration will be so extensive.
Leave it as it is? You might as well demolish it now and save the owners the money and trouble.
There is a reason Jeanne Mast the owner of this house will not sell. Look at the tax records. The house in it’s present state of decay is only worth a few thousand dollars, but the land it’s on and it’s mineral rights are worth millions!
as a preservationist, you should know the most destructive water-related damage to a masonry structure is de-laminating of the brick superstructure caused by freezing water. much more destructive than ground shifts due to moisture. that building is junk and a public nuisance/danger. that nothing has been done about it shows the laziness and ineffectiveness of code-enforcement personnel in fairfield county, ohio. also indications of corruption if the county officials condone the practices of local law enforcement teaming up with the irresponsible property owner mast in apprehending trespassers.
BTW, the house is not worth ‘a few thousand dollars’….it is worth absolutely nothing. even trying to salvage any part of the building(s) is not worth the liability of having people there taking it down/away. in fact, any person there at all (even law enforcement or officials) is a libility to the property owner, particularly with the presence of uninhabitable structures. as for the land value- it’s next to nothing. its agriculture or nothing. there are no minerals in that ground that couldn’t be had more cheaply in states with less agressive environmental regulations/agencies. the owner is truly stuck with the property.
Unfortunately, for whatever reasons the current owners have in deciding not to take action to secure or reoccupy this home, perhaps insufficient money, or no clear property title, or the rest of us fussing and obsessing about their property, the residents of the region, well known for its Victorian era architecture, will not be able to enjoy this house much longer.
The owner has the final say of whether they want to sell or not. Its not the communities right to take the property, no matter how well compensated. Government and liberal fascists…hands off private property!
Montana Buckeye – You are very, very mistaken. On so many levels!!!
A very conservative United States Supreme Court decided years ago that condemnation for the benefit of the community, and that includes Historic Preservation, is entirely legal within the confines of our national constitution. Sorry if that offends you, but there it is.
( And you will have to tell us how you have managed to link Liberalism and Fascism in the same name…. )
If someone opened a porno shop next door to your children’s school, or next door to your home, you would probably appeal to the local or regional government to protect your children and the community’s children from this genuine menace. That is actually a “taking.” By using zoning or public safety laws forbidding inappropriate uses, say a sex shop or whore house in a school or residential zone, or a business using dangerous chemicals in a residential zone, a public authority has “taken” one of the property owner’s rights to do whatever they want with their property as they see fit.
And in that case, they are not even compensated for their losses. Historic Preservation condemnation requires the party who lost land to be fully compensated.
By the way, Landmark Designation is not considered a “taking,” at least not by our Supreme Court. In addition, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of Civil Governments to Landmark Private Church Property, and block alteration or demolition of the landmark to the full extent of the law, just as they would for a private non-religious owner.
If you lived next to the Mudhouse Mansion, and your children were constantly fascinated by its ruinous allure while not understanding the dangers in an abandoned building, you might not be so happy to leave the owners to do whatever they pleased. Fortunately, this mansion is not in a neighborhood with lots of kids.
Sadly, it is still a wonderful example of a Second Empire or French Renaissance Revival style house. It is still worthy of preservation. IN FACT, Heritage Tourism is, or was when I last checked, the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. Tourism of course refers to those visitors who stop to fill hotels and motels, buy meals, books, souvenirs, and the like, and help local businesses keep local folks employed.
Other than that, I really liked your note.