UPDATE: Soon after the demolition of the Orth House, Nicole Curtis' fans took to Facebook to express their feelings about the issue in a negative way towards City Council Member Lisa Bender, prompting Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges to call out Curtis publicly.
It's over, folks. Yesterday a wrecking crew began leveling the historic home at 2320 Colfax Ave. S. in Minneapolis's Wedge neighborhood.
Last year a developer planning a four-story apartment building won the long, drama-filled battle over the 1893 structure known as the Orth House, which was built by renowned architect T.P. Healy.
People who wanted it saved say the house still maintained many of the features that made it historically significant, and Nicole Curtis, star of Rehab Addict, or another renovation specialist could've refurbished it into a beautiful home. They're also worried about adding a new four-story development in place of the Orth House, which had been converted into a boarding house offering cheap rent.
"We could've maintained what we had," said neighborhood resident Kathy Kullberg as she watched an excavator tear the building apart with a few fellow neighbors. "It was affordable housing, and now we're bringing in a big new development."
City staff issued a 25-page report last spring detailing its decision not to recommend the home for historic designation, writing it had "severely diminished integrity" after it was damaged by a fire in 1991.
City Council agreed, voting 11-2 to approve the demolition last April.
"It's very sad," said Kullberg. "We've been working for three years to save this building."
Curtis says she tried to buy the home and led the charge in trying to preserve it, at one point holding a series of candlelight vigils outside the home.
Neighbors watching the demolition complained the developer, Lander Group, didn't follow city rules throughout the dispute over the building and, fittingly, didn't follow rules when the demolition took place.
At first the water truck onsite wasn't used to tamp down the construction debris, and when a worker (sans hardhat) finally started spraying the debris the stream did little good. Dust and debris from the teardown hung thick in the air.
"They're not following any regulations here," said one onlooker, Brian Finstad. "It's an absolute clusterfuck. Look at that dust; that's all lead contaminant."
A city spokesperson wrote in an email that wrecking contractors are required to wet down all demolition debris with water to reduce dust coming from the demolition site, and that an inspector was being sent out to the site to enforce the rules.
Send news tips to Ben Johnson.