Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sometimes the dinosaur eats the house

Earlier this morning I stood outside, watching a dinosaur devour an old house. Crunch, crunch went the enormous jaw, as the dinosaur climbed up onto the pile of old bones and guts to reach for more house. It was at once comical and disturbing, to see the insides of a house as the dinosaur cocked its head and took enormous bites out of windows and chimneys. The house was naked, exposed, its secret insides put on display for all the world to see. The hungry dinosaur roared a mighty diesel-fueled roar, its metal neck clanking and hissing, as it took bite after bite of history and digested it into rubble.

Today marked the beginning of the end for a historic Denver house. Once a stately mansion on a street lined with stately mansions, the Woodward House was the last such structure on the block. Now surrounded by office buildings and apartments, the house was deemed too expensive to renovate, and, being state property, finally got the axe earlier this month. As I understand it, the place was filled with asbestos and no takers were found when the offer was put forth to have an independent person pay for renovations in exchange for a lifetime lease.

The house sat empty since state employees stopped using it as office space sometime in the '70s, and weather, vagrants, and animals all contributed to its delapidation. It was the last reminder that once upon a time, this part of town was where the millionaires lived. You can read more about the house here, which I found to be an interesting history.

I gotta say, it was simultaneously gut-wrenching and fascinating to watch this piece of Denver history be reduced to bits of old wood and brick, and while I watched I imagined who once lived in the house, who stoked fires in the fireplaces, who had babies or got sick and died in the bedrooms. Every old house tells a story. This house was no different. It continues to tell a story of violence and loss, of reducing something once great into worthless junk, of the importance of preserving pieces of the past so we remember how time changes all things. In a few months, where the Woodward House stood will be a parking lot.

1 comment:

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Don't sweet juniper's detroit photos kind of give you that creeped out feeling?

Abandoned buildings in living cities are like corpses propped up amongst living bodies. It was fascinating watching Montreal's resurgence while I was in college...looking at what came down and what was deemed good enough to keep up.