Bleak Future for Huntsville's Historic Home

Preservation officials fight to save a storm-worn historic house, but the ongoing battle with local home owners leads to major negative impacts on the neighborhood.
June 27, 2012, 5am PDT | Emily Williams
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Following a tornado which caused extensive damage to a historic home in the Five Points Historic District in Huntsville, Alabama, the late owner's family members, who had been living in the home since his death, have requested the building be torn down. The Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission, however, continues to deny their request. "There is a constant attrition of historically significant houses that seems to be going on," stated the chair of the Commission, Jack Burwell. "If we let everyone who wants to tear them down do that, that goes against what the historic district is all about."

The house, which is believed to have been built around the 1920's, is caught in the middle of an ongoing battle between Burwell and the home owners' attorney, Buck Watson. "'If it was fixed up,' said Burwell, 'it could be an attractive early structure.' Watson, however, says it makes no sense to pay $135,000 or more for repairs on a house that's now for sale for $89,900."

Despite the uncertainty of the building's future, one thing is for sure: the longer it sits in its current state, the greater the negative impact it has on the neighborhood. "It has lowered the property values of every building on our block. It is an eye sore for the whole 5 Points area," claims neighboring property owners. "It has and continues to attract homeless and other vagrants to the street. They camp on the porch and break into the building."

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Published on Friday, June 22, 2012 in The Huntsville Times
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