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Neighbors join to save house from demolition

The 112-year-old Goldsmith house on the corner of Northwest 24th Avenue and Quimby Street has been sold to a group of local residents to save it from the backhoe’s claw.

Last week, between 10 and 20 neighbors bought the lot on which the Victorian house stands. They also bought the lot to the north, upon which there is a 1920s cottage of little historical value. The group proposes to call itself Northwest Neighbors for Preservation.

Rick Michaelson says that some of the investors put in more money than others, but they all did it “for a little bit of interest and the joy of seeing the house saved.”

He and his life and business partner Karen Karlsson stress that the house will be turned into a single family home again. From 1964 until last year, it was divided into offices.

The house designed by architect Edgar M. Lazarus was constructed in 1902. The house was first associated with Max Goldsmith, who lived there until 1919. Other families that lived in the house during its early years included May B. Goldsmith, Walter Miller and Doris Wildamenia, Otis and Margaret Vowels and Louisa and H.O. Henderson.

Michaelson and Karlsson declined to divulge how much the house cost them until the sale closes in a week. Northwest Neighbors for Preservation also will hope to name the house to the National Register of Historic Places.

After local residents spent weeks bemoaning the interior deconstruction of the house, Karlsson says nothing irreplaceable had actually been destroyed. “The fireplaces mantels are stored, the original sliding pocket doors still work,” she says. “The trim is still there, although some was damaged. Most of what was taken out is lath, which we has to go anyway when we upgrade the electrical and plumbing.”

Michaelson is a local developer with Inner City Properties. Karlsson runs KLK Consulting, a land-use planning consultancy. Not concerned with profit

Plans include demolishing the cottage and moving the property line eight feet south, so that what is now the Victorian’s parking lot becomes part of the north lot. The north lot will then be developed to the density required by code, adding four to eight new properties, helping offset the price of purchase. Karlsson says the investors expect to break even after the home is restored, modernized and sold to a single family. They estimate the work will cost another $500,000.

Realtor Dan Volkmer of Windemere, also part of the deal, volunteered his real estate skills. “It doesn’t normally come together like this in three days,” Michaelson says of the surprise deal which happened around May 9 when the house seemed doomed.

“I think this story has made the city toughen up the way they deals with these historical demolitions,” says Michaelson. “Northwest is different from 30 years ago when those houses were being abandoned. The neighborhood has stabilized.”

Michaelson adds that under the preservation easement, the group will be able to screen the type of people they sell to, to make sure they are sympathetic.

Kehoe says he has other projects in the works in Northwest — apartments, mainly — but, “I’m not going to do any more of these,” he says, referring to historic properties. “They can fix it up, I went through the numbers with them, they’re not concerned with making a profit.”