Eyesore of the week

By Eric Freeman

Address: 815 E. Grand River Ave., Lansing
Owner: Randy L. Brown
Taxpayer: Randy L. Brown
Assessed: $11,000
Owner says: Could not meet city halfway to make it liveable

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Don’t be fooled by the ramshackle porch and the red tag on the door of this two-story house on Grand River. At one time, this classic wood frame house looked quite smart with a fully constructed porch and elegant detailing at the gables. Decorative detailing elevates this structure from simple to special. It is a shame that the vinyl siding obscures the decorative detail that made this home distinctive.

With a huff and puff, you might just be able to blow this house down. From the porch to the garage to the roof, this place is visibly falling apart. Gaping holes in the siding and a broken basement window reveal a rotting interior and wood structure. An electrical box dangles in the breeze, hanging on by only a few wires.

A notice on the front door says the property owner in April 2006 had been given 120 days to restore the property. Two and a half years later, this old house has yet to receive any sort of cosmetic surgery.

Harrell-Seyburn's drawing below shows what the house may have looked like with its original porch and decorative detailing.


DO: keep
your house distinctive by maintaining the porch and decorative
detailing. Porches are usually not constructed as well as the main
structure and will eventually need to be replaced if not maintained.

DON’T: make the most common error by covering the decorative detailing on your house with vinyl
siding. Too often people trade character for convenience when choosing
to vinyl side their home. Vinyl siding is not maintenance free and
looks common. Don’t trade your distinctive detailing for
vinyl .