Let Us Save Spaight Street House In Madison From A Bulldozer!

There is a move underway to tear down and totally destroy an old home located at 1112 Spaight Street.  After the old structure is gone a young couple wants to build a new home on that spot that looks across to Orton Park.

This house is believed to have been built in 1889 or a few years earlier, making it the second oldest frame house on Orton Park, and the third oldest house on the park.

Let me state up front that I have nothing against the young couple that are expecting their first child, and want to tear this house down.  Having dreams about home ownership is one of those grand American notions that all have experienced at one time or another.  I would very much like this couple to reside in our neighborhood, and be a part of our community. I met and talked with them several weeks back, and find them very courteous.

But as nice as this couple are I am not in favor of having an old home destroyed so a new one can be built.

Not in this neighborhood where old homes tell a story, point us back to our roots, and encourage us to do right by them so others can enjoy them, as we do, for many decades to come.

If every time someone who had a desire to tear down a house and build a new one had achieved their aim over the years, this neighborhood consisting of old Victorian homes, and historic buildings of the past would be all gone by now.  There would be no more charm left to the neighborhood. 

It is imperative that we all gather as a community and stop the destruction of this home.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association took the first step in standing up to the bulldozing of this home.

After a lengthy discussion in August the approval of the demolition permit for 1112 Spaight Street was turned down following a tie of four to four, and President Scott Thornton, the President of the Board, broke the tie and the motion failed.

One can make an argument that the property was not listed in a fashion that would allow for a true sampling of home buyers to express an interest in the home.  There were reports of someone else interested in making an offer on the property. This should be known, but it was information that was obscured by the proponents argument that no one wanted the property after a year on the market.  That was not quite true, since it wasn’t listed, and the phone number on the for sale (by the owner) sign was illegible.

All these old wonderful homes tell a story.

The one at 1112 Spaight Street has a rich one too.

The family who lived in it from the time it was built, and for about the next 20 years, was the Christian C. Koffshinsky family.  He, or a son of the same name, built another house on Maple Avenue around 1910, presumably after the family size changed. Some family members lived nearby concurrently and during subsequent generations.

I, along with many from this neighborhood, walked through the house.  Let me report what the facts of the house are, and a bit more about it’s past.

It is structurally sound except for the porches.

The interior floor plan is a side entrance T-shaped floor plan. It is nearly original in layout, and could be adapted to modern use. It had a front entrance to the front parlor, likely for visitors, and a secondary entrance to the “family parlor”. Both front and side door are original and have deep moldings. It has an enclosed stair entered from the front. It originally had three bedrooms, though two were combined at some point.

It was originally heated with coal stoves so had no fireplaces. It has a stone foundation wall, and because it sits low on the lot… and its basement floor accommodates drainage. The basement has a walk-out entrance to a half flight of steps to the back yard. The interior trims are all original or early, but the paint and plaster finishes are in need of replacement. The newer kitchen within the original rear one-story kitchen wing is outdated and in need of replacement.

The second floor bath is outdated and similarly needs to be replaced. The exterior is covered with clay “slate shingles” that cover lapped wood siding. Though the bottom of the posts and deck of the front porch are deteriorated and sunken several inches, the original decorative spindle frieze is relatively intact.

There is a second house on the property though it hasn’t been habitable for some time. It is the small one-room house at the rear of the lot, which appears to have been moved from 1118 Spaight(?). That structure at 1118 Spaight has the remains of its early 1890s interior finishes, but may have been a larger or different sized house at one time.

The point I am making with this information is that the history and background of this house can be told much like if your grandfather were to tell you of his grandparents.  The past makes us richer when we know of it, and appreciate its worth.   We do not discard important things just because they get old, and seek new replacements. 

In this neighborhood we embrace the past, and refurbish it.  We live in harmony with the rich history of this neighborhood.

How many other places in this city have carriage stoops along the curb?  Recall how we worked to save them from destruction when the street project was underway?  Think about the loss of something most remarkable had we not acted in time?

This is not just another Madison neighborhood.

There is history worth protecting here, and homes worth fighting for.

Will you join me in making this home something that will be around for many more decades?

Thank you, on behalf of the house at 1112 Spaight Street.

How Much Would You Pay To See ‘Economist’ Sarah Palin Debate Paul Krugman?

Silly idea, you say!

I think not.

While getting ready for lunch today I turned on the television and heard Sarah Palin will be on FAUX News tonight explaining why President Obama’s job creation bill is “wrong for America.”

I had no idea that Sarah Palin had read enough to ponder the economic pros and cons of the president’s ideas which were laid out to the nation last week.  Frankly, I had no idea Palin could read, period.

Which led to think of a real economist, Paul Krugman, who I always enjoy reading and hearing from as I learn so much.

Then my mind flashed to a great idea, thanks to FUAX News mentioning the Shanksville Memorial for the downed 9/11 aircraft and passengers.  All are aware of the millions still needed to finish this most worthy project in Pennsylvania.

I know this household would pay a live-event fee to our cable company for the chance to see Sarah Palin place her economic credentials up against Paul Krugman in a one-hour debate.

All the proceeds could be used for the Shanksville Memorial.  Millions could be raised over-night!

Might Sarah Palin wish to help?  I bet Paul Krugman would agree.

I will be waiting for a twitter response from the bright one in Alaska to my idea.

Israel Should Have Really Worked For Peace With Neighbors When They Had Chance

For years there has been an intellectual debate in Washington think tanks, and among Middle Eastern experts over the dangers Israel was creating for itself by slowing down the peace process, and more to the point, undermining it completely.

The changing demographics within Israel, along with the transition that was going to occur among neighboring countries at some point (though no one predicted the energy or timing of the Arab Spring) all led many to conclude Israel had chosen the wrong path. 

But as many leaders in Washington have come to understand no one can give Israel any guidance that is not tossed aside.  After all, Israel knows all.

Today the conservative Wall Street Journal had a news story that pointed out the new landscape which Israel now finds itself.  A landscape that could have been different had Tel Aviv paid attention to the experts for all these past years.

Some Israeli cabinet members and experts advocated apologizing for the Mavi Marmara killings, but Mr. Netanyahu went along with hardliners including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who say Mr. Erdogan had made the strategic choice to clash with Israel and denounce its Gaza blockade to boost its stature in the Muslim world.

Having warned months ago of a diplomatic “tsunami” headed toward Israel with the Palestinian’s U.N. bid and the Arab Spring, Defense Minister Ehud Barak publicly urged Israel’s government in a statement on Sunday to reconsider its regional strategy amid “this triangle of Turkey, Egypt, the negotiations with the Palestinians, and of the intimacy with the U.S., which has been weakened.”

Last week, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates was quoted by Bloomberg News calling Mr. Netanyahu an “ungrateful” ally who hasn’t done enough to advance the peace process despite U.S. diplomatic and military support.

The regional crisis reignited a debate in Israel over whether a peace push with the Palestinians would ease Israel’s problems. But the prevailing opinion in the U.S. government seems to view Israel as more vulnerable and unable to influence the region.

Are North Carolina Republicans Interested In Jobs Or Anti-Gay Culture War?

I ran across an interesting story in the morning newspaper that will place Republicans either on the side of job creation and economic improvement, or on the side with anti-gay culture warriors.

The line will be drawn in North Carolina, a state you might recall President Obama  won in 2008.  That fact is key to this whole story.

Now to rally the conservative base and throw some red meat into the mix come 2012 the North Carolina legislature is considering placing a needless ballot measure before the voters.  What is being proposed is a vote to ask if the state statute, which already makes marriage between a man and woman to be the legal standing in North Carolina, also be made a part of their constitution.

In 2006 the same political games were played in Wisconsin as Republicans worked over-time to place a marriage amendment on the ballot at the time of a key gubernatorial campaign.  At the time I often wrote of my dismay at using bigotry as a way to gin up the turn-out for conservative Republicans.

When the Republicans forced the issue of gay marriage on the Wisconsin ballot for November, I was not surprised. Sad, but not surprised. Striking out at gay Americans is the Republican way to rally their base, excite those who feed on this to ensure they then cast a ballot on Election Day. The GOP controlled Wisconsin Legislature felt a Republican nominee for Governor could not make it on his own without some red meat to stir the angry white males–the demographic group targeted by the GOP with their anti-gay message. Perhaps should they have found a better candidate rather than spreading a message of hatred and intolerance?

Now the same appears about to happen in North Carolina.

But there is a twist as many in the business community (as there was to some degree during Wisconsin’s shameful fiasco) want sense to govern the minds of those making the decision about whether to have such a ballot measure placed before the voters.

Why make a stain on North Carolina, the argument goes among some business leaders, in this dark economic hour by signaling out a minority of the state population for public judgment.  What message does that send to others thinking of relocating to North Carolina for business purposes?

Only the most crass Republicans would opt for such a hateful idea all to create a higher turnout for Republicans in 2012.

Knowing conservatives as I do mark my words that the legislature will place this mean-spirited measure before the voters.

I pose the same question today as I did in 2006. 

Perhaps should they have found a better candidate rather than spreading a message of hatred and intolerance?”

Tim Pawlenty Endorses Mitt Romney As “A Turn A-Round Person” For President

Me thinks Tim Pawlenty wants to be Vice-Presidential running mate with Mitt Romney, betcha betcha.  Though I strongly suspect the phrase “a turn a-round person” will not become the campaign ad slogan anytime soon.