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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Shawen Acres Now

So if you read the previous post about the history of Shawen Acres and the Montgomery County Children's Home you would realize that the facility stopped being a home for orphans in the 1970s after it was determined that children were better off in foster care with individual families. The large administration building remained in use until 2001 when the modern Haines Children's Center building was opened. The original buildings have sat vacant and unused for 11 years. During that time the roofs of many buildings developed leaks or were accessed by racoons, birds and squirrels. Some of the basements flooded and the humidity inside the structure has caused paint to peel and floor boards and joists to buckle and warp. Vagrants have accessed the buildings for shelter and thieves have removed air conditioning units and copper plumbing. The porches have become popular locations for prostitutes to perform the horizontal hoochee and the 19 acre grounds are too large for the county sheriff to police. The county has submitted a proposal for demolition and a re-use plan that includes expanding the green space on the property and preserving the original nursery building which was restored and is currently used. The neighborhoods support the plan but the Landmark Commission voted 4 - 3 to preserve the structures. The county intends to bring the case before the city commission on May 30, 2012 because we have the ability to overturn the Landmark Commission recommendation. When I heard this I asked to see the interiors of the buildings. Some would say that I know a thing or two about renovation work. You are about to view a series of pictures. They are not labeled as to which building is which but I can tell you that all the buildings except one which was preserved several years ago are in similar condition. The structures are ALL concrete block institutional type buildings with no insulation and iron joist beam support for the second story in each structure. Many of the interior rooms are very small with concrete interior walls. There are no outstanding architectural details inside any of the buildings. The arts and crafts fire places are very plain. The only attractive feature about the buildings is how they appear from the outside. The tile roof, fancy chimneys and stucco English cottage style are the only good thing about the buildings. The buildings have deteriorated because the county uses money allocated for children's service to attend the needs of children and not to maintain and heat empty buildings. These buildings are not really relocatable due to the masonry construction and if they were renovated on site they would have to be used to serve "helpless and unfortunate children" due to a deed restriction.
The front of the administration building will be salvaged and reused on the grounds.
This is the back of the administration building. The attached gym was demolished in 2004.
A vulture flew out of this hole in the roof while I was there. Maybe it was feasting on something inside!
This is just one of many large piles of raccoon poop present in one of the buildings.
This ridge under the carpet is due to a warped floor joist that has risen some six inches.
This is looking up through the ceiling to the light shining through a hole in the roof.
The renovated former nursery looks like this.
Now that you have read all this and seen the pictures you would likely agree that the only future for these structures is to demolish them. However, if you have the funds and a reuse plan for the buildings that serves the purpose as listed in the deed restriction then you can call the Assistant County Administrator, Amy Weideman at 937-225-5802 to discuss your ideas. If they are feasible then the county may throw in funds that are saved from the demolition budget which is almost $350,000 for the entire project. I would do it before summer though because these will start to come down in the fall of this year assuming we overturn the decision of the Landmark Commission that is.

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At 4/30/2012 11:57 PM, Anonymous Kate H. said...

If demolition is the only solution, could the metal windows be salvaged and sold? They're not necessarily energy-efficient, but very appropriate for somebody renovating a house of that period.

At 5/03/2012 10:33 AM, Blogger Gary said...

We have one of the best deconstruction programs in the country. I believe they have expressed an interest in salvaging what they can. The county will save the roof tiles for reuse on shelters to be built on this site after demolition.

At 5/07/2012 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who will look after the racoons when we tear down their homes. How about we make a miniature of the cottages, just big enough for a racoon family. It would be a home for lost and wayward racoons. They'll have to be potty trained, so we don't have a repeat of the current situation.

At 5/13/2012 12:45 AM, Blogger P.j. said...

Pretty scary looking inside those buildings, even for someone familiar with restoration. They are charming on the outside though, so hopefully someone will come up with a good plan before they're torn down.

At 5/16/2012 1:54 AM, Blogger Real Estate Philippines said...

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At 6/07/2012 7:44 PM, Anonymous Kevin Noel said...

Judging from those pictures, I think the building is still capable of undergoing a renovation. It would be better renovated than demolished, especially if the orphans will benefit from the former. However, if $350,000 is not enough to do that, it's best to just look for materials in that house that are still usable.

At 6/18/2012 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would assume that it'll end up being cheaper to demolish the buildings and build anew. It would be nice if any new construction could take the history of the ground and the style of the buildings into account when building something new though.

At 7/17/2012 12:51 AM, Anonymous Linda said...

After reading some post on Ancestry.com from some of the children who were sent there, perhaps some of this funding monies could go to the children who were beaten and sexually molested by the staff members and older children of Shawen Acres. I had no idea that this type of abuse went on there. I thought Children Services are to protect children. So sad also that this type of abuse is also taking place in foster homes and other places children are sent to.

At 11/27/2012 9:50 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

That sounds like an awesome idea. These photos look like its a wreck.

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At 11/30/2012 8:11 AM, Blogger UKAmerican said...

I know that the restoration of historic properties is always astronomical, but it is sad to see something so large and full of history, good or bad, go. I understand all of the reasons for demolition and love the idea of salvaging what they can. I want to get my masters degree in Community Planning and this is one of the reasons why.

At 2/21/2014 6:33 PM, Blogger Just Me said...

I came looking to see what happened to Shawen Acers as I used to live there as a child. So sad to see it's condition here, and was wondering what happened to it as of this date? If someone would contact me and let me know..that would be super nice.

At 2/21/2014 7:01 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Google maps shows that the demolition has occurred.


At 4/26/2019 11:38 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I grew up here so many memories.


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