Thursday, December 24, 2009
JNS BLOG VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Senseless Destruction Of The Pauline Fjelde House At 3009 Park Avenue...
Word came mid-morning that the historic Pauline Fjelde house was facing an "emergency demolition" on Christmas Eve. Though this house is in SOUTH Minneapolis (SoMi) and this blog normally concentrates on NORTH Minneapolis, (NoMi) the public policy questions and preservation issues are important enough--pressing enough--to merit coverage. As it turns out, this blog is the first media entity to report the story of today's senseless destruction of the house, in a blog post which Jeff Skrenes managed to post all the way from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, click here.
The way the story goes in broad outline form, disgusting slime ball owner James Schoffman had an order to repair the roof and secure the building against the weather after a fire had broken out in the house and damaged the property, click here for a story about the fire. This oh-so-mysterious fire came after the city refused to grant a demolition order so Schoffman can build a parking lot.
So after leaving the house open to the elements, the owner finally got an order to secure the roof against the weather. Today--supposedly this happened TODAY--a massive bundle of lumber was being hoisted up for roof repair when--oops, the bundle of lumber slipped and damaged the structural integrity of the house. Somehow, an "emergency" demolition managed to happen on CHRISTMAS EVE. Yes, somewhere in North Minneapolis 1564 Hillside sits day after day, not getting demolished even though there has been a raze order up for months, but somehow a massive backhoe shows up the very day of the (oops!) "accident" and razes the house. ON CHRISTMAS EVE.
It was the opinion of bystanders that some kind of "fix is in" when had nothing to do with fixing houses, but tearing them down.
As a backhoe moved toward the house, one neighborhood activist named Madeleine (spelling unconfirmed) rushed up the front steps and hugged a house pillar, refusing the move. Workmen called police to the scene. Madeleine yelled for other sympathetic bystanders to join her in an act of spontaneous civil disobedience, but nobody among the onlookers felt able to follow through and take such action. As a police car drew near, Madeleine walked away from the house. Two police stood near to keep order, but did not intervene or question anybody about what Madeleine had done.
The house--which had been designed by a renowned architect--resisted the backhoe to an amazing degree. Each individual component of the house seemed to stand all by itself, even when other components were removed. The house fought all the way down and appeared--in the words of one bystander--"as solid as a brick (expletive) house." The house was so solid the driver of the backhoe was willing to trust the beams of the house and drive directly inside, poised over the basement area on the floor of the first story.
Most horrifying of all was the fact no attempt was made to save historic or architectural components from the backhoe. WItnesses saw--and actually videotaped!--Pauline Fjelde's trunk in the third story area exposed by the backhoe, and then smashed to bits. Missing soffit had revealed pretty corbels, which were also smashed and lost. Over $3,000 worth of old radiators were destroyed without the slightest attempt at preservation. Clearly, something is wrong with city policy if an event like this can take place. Salvaging the components would have been cost-free, as there are individuals and companies willing to do it for free. The loss of the trunk was particularly inexplicable and is well-documented.
A crime took place today in South Minneapolis, and there is no way James Schoffman should get permission to build a parking lot after the stunt he pulled with this house.