Orth Fights Back!

orthchimney

The Mighty Bricks!

It was a cold and windy February 25th, 2015.
After a two year fight to save the Theron Potter Healy designed and built Orth House, a neighbor’s email notified us that it was demolition day. The big yellow tyrannosaurus rex was already growling and surging forward, its iron teeth ripping and rending into the wood of the Edward Orth house when I arrived.

The sun was bright but not warm.
It was raining sawdust. The splinters sparkled and exploded. A cloud of (some said) lead dust issued forth in toxic plumes. The workers, one a skinny guy in worn out jeans, and the chunky driver of the backhoe of death were deluged with it.

A few of the advocates for the Orth house arrived and departed, unable to watch. Two served as witnesses, recorders and honor guard for the death of the great house.

The battle to save Orth had been difficult, politically contentious. All involved, on both sides, were challenged, traumatized and damaged in the fight. Another battle scar, another death internalized, another loss, that neither we nor our opponents would ever recover from.

The engine surged forward. The head and neck of the backhoe swung round, it smashed and pounded. The sounds resonated back from the surrounding houses, silent witnesses to the death of one of their neighbors who had been a part of their community for so long. Glass and metal shattered, the violent motions and sounds of rending, crunching and devouring violence continued as the powerful aroma of old wood was released. The splinters of sawdust swirled in agonized vortexes generated by the wind and covered our coats.

We kept recording. At one point as the backhoe of death ascended the debris, lifted its neck and head and opened its jagged iron teeth near the tall ornamental brick chimney that had been a part of the house since 1893. Ezra Gray commented that we might have to be ready to run if the bricks came our way.

The teeth bit into the brick and shook the chimney…layers of ashes (or as I thought the spirit and soul of the house) expelled a dying breath of white smoke.

The bricks burst apart and fell on the backhoe…the operator deactivated the beast for a moment and he and his miserable coworker examined the backhoe for damage.

Someone said she wished that just once a house would fall on one of the backhoes (not the workers) and kill IT in just retribution.

Farkitecture Follies Award #3 Developer greed and tired old men who wrecked an historic treasure that could have been preserved in the heart of the Lowry Hill East neighborhood to build ugly clone apartments that are not needed out of materials that won’t last 50 years.

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