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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ft. Thomas Matters (Demolishing Historic Home, Enquirer vs. FTPD, FortThomas Florist Yard of the Month


- Got a lead from some concerned citizens regarding a house that had been razed at 407 N. Fort Thomas Ave recently (above). It's across from the Highlands United Methodist Church Parrish house. There was a meeting in the City Council Chambers this past Tuesday to discuss the new proposed construction.

The letter informing neighbors was not signed by anyone, nor did it speak in favor or against the new construction. FortThomasMatters' staff is working on getting comments from City officials on this matter.

The Campbell County PVA site only goes back to 1996 on this house and only has had one owner (I believe since 1982). Taxes have been paid on this house each of those years. It's current assessed value is $197,000.

It's difficult to tell from the images attached to the letter, but it looks as if the new construction looks like  some type of multi-family home. A few commenters on our Facebook page have opined that they think it may be the construction of a new, single family home.

So first there are two issues here regarding keeping an old, historic Fort Thomas home vs demolishing a vacant, deteriorating domicile. At the moment, this is a moot point as crews have already turned the home into a mud pit. 

In my humble opinion, 9 times out of 10, new construction supersedes a vacant "historic" home. I get the whole nostalgia angle. I get that erasing history is sad, but at the end of the day finding owners to rehab these homes is becoming increasingly difficult and thus, they sit. New construction (generally) means higher property tax, which means higher revenue for the city, which means continued funding for our schools, parks and everything else that makes our city stand out. 

The VA homes are a different story in my mind, but I won't begin to even start to go there again. 

UPDATE: (Via City Official, Don Martin)
The owner of the property razed the house for the purpose of building a new, single-family house.  There is no "development" slated for this single-family lot other than replacing one house with another, which is rather typical in Fort Thomas.  The Board of Adjustment meeting was not regarding the demolition of the house, per se.  Rather, it involved a request by the owner for a side yard variance so the new home could be built closer to the lot line.  The Board of Adjustment granted the variance.
- As a rule, I've tried to stay above the fray on the whole McCafferty trial and I'll continue to do so. No more needs to be said on it. I did find a newsworthy item from the Enquirer's latest article on her most recent hearing, though, dealing with Journalism and an open records request:

"The Kentucky Enquirer has waged a 49-month legal battle to obtain the Fort Thomas Police investigative file on Robert McCafferty's murder in hopes of leaning more about the domestic violence call that was made less than 24 hours before the killing."

Again, the FortThomasMatters' staff will work to try to get a comment from Fort Thomas officials on this. 

- This weekend Fort Thomas Florist will select the 1st Yard of the Month. Be looking out for that. 

- My bride and I's Friday routine typically involves New Garden takeout. She's a sucker for their sushi. I took this picture last week as the sun was going down as I reflected on three new businesses that were brought to the Midway District over the last year. The hard work that the city has done attracting and retaining these businesses should be commended. 

If you weren't already aware where Designer Ally and Lovell's Hardwood Flooring were, now you know. If you are remodeling or thinking about remodeling, go see Ally Nolting and Bobby Lovell today. SHOP LOCAL!


  1. Your SHOP LOCAL campaign should be commended. I'm happy you're taking the torch on this.

  2. I disagree that newer homes increase property values. I am writing this from Philadelphia where older architecture significantly trumps the value newer construction. Maybe that doesn't apply in Ft. Thomas, but I feel sorry for the homeowners on either side of this "remuddling". Hopefully, the cheap new construction will not stick out like sore thumb. Surely, in the coming days the argument will surface that the house was in disrepair and this had to be done. But it plays like a broken record as we hear it everytime an old house gets torn down, and rarely is it ever true.

  3. A couple of comments about the house: First, the pictures only show the side and rear, not the front. I have seen pictures of the front, and the design looks very 1930's-1940's, so not "like a sore thumb." Second, the lot is very narrow; in fact, the lot size does not meet current minimum requirements, so in order to maximize living space and fit within current zoning, some creative design was needed so that it wouldn't be the "sore thumb" thing. And trust me, this will not be cheap new construction.

  4. The house's structure was beyond repair, and that's why it was not salvageable and the purchasing owner demolished it.

    For those interested, the original house at 407 N. Ft. Thomas Ave. was built in 1910 by Cornelia Payne. In the early 1900s, there was no North and South Ft. Thomas Ave. Instead it was referred to as Mt. Pleasant Ave. Payne was a schoolteacher and a member of the DAR. She originally lived on Overton in Newport, Ky. More about her can be found in local genealogy records and censuses: for instance, a Kentucky Post article from April 5, 1934 "Schoolteacher's will is Probated."

  5. What is beyond repair is most always in the eye of the beholder as well as his pocketbook. Admittedly, I have no idea what structural problems existed with the house but I checked out the listing and I do not recall it being sold as any kind of tear down, nor was it condemned by the City or County. Clearly, this was an economic choice by the purchaser and it happens all the time. Some folks want old and some want new. I just hope it does not become a pattern in Ft. Thomas. Although four-square craftsman homes are a plenty here, they are a critical part of what makes our neighborhood charming and we just lost one.

  6. It is my understanding that the 407 North Fort Thomas property was purchased by a man that is in the home renovation and remodeling business. I think it's tragic that he chose to tear the home down rather than restore it!!