An Old Wooden Wheelchair

It was certainly a busy Friday for me to where I was pretty much on the move from the entire time I was at office, but when looking back on it now, much of it is a blur of episodes.

Since yesterday, we’ve been working with an offer on 818 N. Pennsylvania, and as chance would have it, an agent from another office text me saying he would be emailing me an offer on it momentarily. Without question, dealing with those two offers consumed a noticeable portion of my morning.

A long-time client of mine called and asked if I would show him that new listing at 925 N. Adams which hit the market several days ago, so I called the agent and was given the go ahead, but since the property is in dangerously rough shape, we all had to sign “hold harmless” agreements before entering.

When I got there, I walked up and got the key out of the lockbox, opened the front door, and moments after walking in, I could “feel” a sense of foreboding coming over me. The more we looked, the more I was in absolute shock of how it had been stripped out of lathe and plaster on the main floor, while others not having been touched, and to think a single male had lived in that mess for years. There were remnants of damaged furniture, a very old wooden wheelchair near a window, tattered fabrics, bundles of wood, and just about everything else imaginable including a child’s swimming pool in one of its rooms on the main floor and being used to catch water from a leaking roof above. Is it beginning to sound like the makings of another horror story?

I’m a little more in the know about that structure because a very many years ago, it was foreclosed on by Metropolitan Federal, and during that time, I was contracted to sell a number of their bank-owned properties in the aftermath of our Savings and Loan crisis. As chance would have it, I not only had the listing on it at the time, but was also being the selling agent, and the person who purchased it was a certain Marie Hollinger who lived on a farm just outside our City where she boarded, and I think even raised dogs while her husband had his own business of installing tile floors in homes.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but soon thereafter I found out she’d purchased it for her son to live in with the intention of restoring it. Months turned into years, and years into decades, and all the while he lived there, that home continued to evolve into a neighborhood eye-sore to where I think the surrounding owners finally created such a ruckus with the City over its condition, it ended up getting painted, yet both double garages to the rear remained untouched, and now have both of their roofs caving in. What a waste.

There were stories told me by the neighbors about how difficult he was to deal with, yet I dare say I was in his presence but once, which was during the time his mother was looking at purchasing it. Since I’ve worked that neighborhood for years, I’d driven past it often, and each time I’d look up at it wishing I’d sold it to someone else at the time.

While having it listed for sale way back when, I was informed that it was moved onto that lot from somewhere around our library and it having been originally built by the MacNider family, and when you look at the above photo of 115 S. Connecticut which is in that district, you can see the “neighborhood” similarities. It certainly sounds believable because back when I had it listed, you could see it was a grand home at one time, but unfortunately it had been converted into a seedy apartment conversion. I think I know which investors at the time owned it, but I’d have to check our courthouse records to be sure.

We must’ve spent at least an hour inside where we looked at every nook and cranny there was to be found on all three floors, and while going thru it, I was internally angered when seeing someone had recently stripped out all the more goodies there were to be had and likely sold to people who deal in vintage doors, built-ins, fireplace mantles, and the like. There were a few of its original doors in the attic which didn’t get taken, and likely because of it being a hassle to get them down that steep and narrow flight of stairs.

You’re likely wondering now if I had any brushings with an entity or two while inside. Well, I can say the basement was a real creeper when seeing another very old wooden wheelchair, a set of vault doors leading into an opened cistern, and a cellar entrance which was barricaded shut. If I sensed anything while within, it was while up in the attic where for some reason a deep sadness started seeping into my bones which seemed odd because there weren’t any visual “triggers” to be seen. One of my buyers took a cellphone photo of that wheelchair and wicked little me had to add, “Don’t be surprised if you see a ghostly outline of a person seated there.” Yes, I can be a bit inciteful.

After we finished up and standing outside looking up at it, I think we all agreed it would be an extended labor of love for someone with bulging suitcases full of cash. The most unfortunate thing about the home, is that there’d been major changes done to its original floor plan, and especially the way in which the main staircase was majorly altered. We visited a little more and then bid each other farewell, and while driving away, all I could think of, was the amount of its originality which had been stripped out and sadly altered. Yes, that’s going to be some poor devil’s life lesson on how to eat an elephant.

A good portion of time was spent setting up and subsequently showing a home that just came on the market today over in Clear Lake. After showing it, I was once again reminded how their prices have exploded this year because if that home were here in Mason City, it would sell for a good $80K less. Now that’s something to talk about.

Tonight’s one-liner is: You are not born to fame if you do not know the value of time.

Related Property:
818 N. Pennsylvania Ave. Mason City 115 S Connecticut Ave. Mason City
Joe Chodur

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