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This project is about people and a grassroots effort to rebuild an otherwise devastated neighborhood.
This project is about people and a grassroots effort to rebuild an otherwise devastated neighborhood.
249 backers pledged $31,314 to help bring this project to life.

About

The House of Gold: A Gentle Demolition project video thumbnail
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$31,314

249

We met our goal!!!! And we have one hour left! Any and all donations above $30,000 will go to making a bench and installing a light fixture at the bus stop as soon as the House has been taken apart! THANKS EVERYONE!!!

This is the story of the house of gold told by the house and taken from the house of gold website.

“Hi. I’m the house on the corner of Park and Swissvale Avenues in Wilkinsburg – the one by the bus stop. Most houses can’t talk but thanks to people who care about me I have a voice. In 1875, Caroline Richmond owned this land….. Caroline, David and the kids lived here for almost 30 years. 

In 1906 I was sold to Martha Daugherty. She was 22 years old at the time and her husband Henry was 27. They were beautiful, kind, brown people and I was very happy to be their house. Henry was a house painter (I think he would have loved seeing me gold)….. Martha and Henry also lived in me for 30 years and then sold me to Joseph Marcotulli, an Italian immigrant who arrived in the US in 1909. He, his wife Mary, and their kids .... lived with me for almost 60 years. Joe built a storefront in my basement that faced Park Avenue and his wife ran a corner store in it. Everyone in the neighborhood called the market Mary Marcotulli's……

If you’re someone who knows me, who takes the 79 bus or lives nearby you know that - like lots of houses in Wilkinsburg - I’ve been pretty much abandoned these past few years. Being mistreated and abandoned has made me very sad. If you ever looked closely, you’d see my windows have been broken, people have thrown garbage in my yard and all the weeds around me were out of control. But when I was full of people and children I was a happy house, most of my parts were handmade and lovingly cared for. Now it’s time for my life to end. My roof is caving - rain and snow have been pouring in for a long time. After 139 years I will be torn down soon. Before I go it makes me happy to be gold - it makes me feel special. I am valuable and I was loved. You may not remember 1404 Swissvale Avenue or the families that lived here but I hope you’ll remember the house that was gold.”

The House of Gold art project is a metaphor and it’s meant to remind everyone to see the value in people and places before they are gone.

Simply put – I don’t want to throw this house in the garbage. I want it to live on and the first step of that life is a gentle demolition. Taking the house apart – more or less in the reverse of how it was put together almost 140 years ago – will allow us to reuse most of the material to build something really wonderful on the site in the future. A coffee shop, a bus stop, community garden beds - all sorts of cool stuff. It will be a labor of love for me for sure but I think it’s worth it and I hope that you do too. Supporting this project will give this house a chance at a new life and greatly reduce what goes in the landfill. Instead of one guy, one day and a big machine the house will be dismantled by at least 7 people working together over the course of three weeks. And most of all it will create an important case study that tracks the real costs of taking a house like this apart and reusing it so that it can be shared with others. 

**** If you're wondering why the house couldn't be saved - read the answer in the FAQs at the bottom of the page. 

THE TEAM: 

Dee Briggs Artist 

Dee Briggs a full time working artist. Making art has been her primary source of income for the past 13 years. Briggs studied architecture at the City College of New York and holds a master of architecture degree from Yale University. She has also - from time to time - taught in both the schools of art and architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. As an artist working primarily in sculpture Briggs has exhibited nationally in galleries and museums including the Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory, and the Erie Museum of Art. In the spring of 2015 she will install her first major public project for the City of New York in Foley Square.  www.deebriggsstudio.com 

Dee Briggs
Dee Briggs

Mark WalkerDemolition Contractor 

Mark Walker is a professional demolition contractor with years of demolition experience in Wilkinsburg, the City of Pittsburgh and the greater Pittsburgh region. In addition to typical demo he and his crew have extensive experience dismantling building structures by hand when the situation warrants so.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Adam LackettArchitect, Design/Builder + Owner of Engine House 

EngineHouse is a group of designers, builders, and makers working toward a sustainable and enduring built environment. Driven by a passion for integrity, we employ a thoughtful, rigorous approach to create works of uncommon beauty and utility. Founded in 2011 by alumni of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture in Pittsburgh, PA, we provide a full array of design and construction services to residential and commercial clients in the Pittsburgh area. With professional backgrounds in architecture, construction, woodworking, and landscape, our core team tackles design problems with an unusually diverse approach and brings a wealth of practical experience to our projects. http://enginehouse.net 

Adam Lackett
Adam Lackett

Justin LaceyIndustrial Designer + Owner of DayShift  

At DayShift we design and make modern, sustainable furniture. We manufacture customized products from an ever-growing line of our own modern furniture; produce custom site specific furnishings for any space; and work with a wide range of residential and commercial clients to address interior renovation, rehabilitation  and fabrication needs. Our designs are built by hand to last, from sustainable materials, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We're always working on something new and looking for new things to work on. http://www.dayshiftfurniture.com

Justin Lacey
Justin Lacey

Construction Junction – Our mission is to support and promote conservation through the reuse of building materials. We strive to keep usable building materials out of the landfills and provide them to the community at very low cost. A project of PRC, Construction Junction is funded in part by the Heinz Endowment and private contributions. http://www.constructionjunction.org 

Trade Institute of Pittsburgh was established to give young men and women a chance to develop skills in the trades; making them employable, and giving them a chance to increase their earning potential. This gives those non-college bound individuals, or those who have made mistakes in their past, an opportunity outside of the minimum wage job market. http://www.tipgh.org 

THE PLAN:  

I will lead the project and participate in all aspects of the work. We have already cleaned the house out and removed all of the garbage and debris left behind by others. Construction Junction will be the first demo crew inside to remove all of the decorative interior elements. That material will be donated to CJ for the low cost resale to people in the Pittsburgh area with homes of that era so that they can put the decorative elements to good use. Adam and Justin will help identify reusable materials, establish the best ways to remove them and over see much of the removal of the trim, floors and siding. Mark and his team will remove the plaster and lathe, drop the chimneys and dismantle the structure starting with the roof and working their way down to the basement. And several graduates of the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh will assist with some of the above tasks as well as organize, relocate and properly store all of the reusable materials. We are going to do our best to keep the bluestone foundation intact. If funded we will start work right away wight he goal of having the house down, site broom clean and reusable material stowed by the beginning of November. 

This gentle demolition will require highly specialized skills, large-scale equipment such as front loaders and lifts, power tools and lots of good old-fashion muscle. 

Distribution of money if funded:

Risks and challenges

I'm sure there will be challenges - starting with relocating the groundhog who seems to have moved in. But otherwise - I've put together a team of people I know well and have worked with before, who I respect and enjoy being around. And I think that's mutual. I'm sure we'll be faced with situations we didn't predict but I have great faith that as a team we'll find solutions and move forward. It will be a learning process for us all - but we all have a substantial set of construction skills and a deep love for building and buildings. The weather is always a concern with a project like this but if funded we will start the project right away with the intention to have the house down, the site clean and the material stowed before winter.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    We will list you as a GOLD supporter on the House of Gold Website.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    You will receive a postcard size artist print of the House of Gold with a hand written thank you from me.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    An invitation to celebrate the House of Gold site after demolition, meet some of the team, view the salvaged material, tour my studio and have some delicious refreshments!

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    An artist signed and dated 4" piece of the original window molding from the House of Gold. Each piece will be gently cut, cleaned, sanded and sealed and will have at least one surface with gold paint.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    An invitation to the post demo party AND an artist signed and dated 4" piece of the original window molding from the House of Gold. Each piece will be gently cut, cleaned, sanded and sealed and will have at least one surface with gold paint.

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    4 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Limited edition signed artist print of the House of Gold. You'll have to trust me - it will be very cool.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    One of the beautiful 139 year old hand carved corbel/brackets from the House of Gold, signed and dated by the artist.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    An original drawing by the artist, signed and dated.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    In our spare time we've made a very detailed digital 3D model of the House of Gold. You would receive a 14 carat gold miniature of the House. (1/32"= 1') Oh yes - we're serious.

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Funding period

- (30 days)