I hadn’t finished the history behind the last house fire from this weekend when I was alerted to a fire in the old neighborhood. When we got there, it wasn’t just one, but two homes on fire. They were 4217 Manteca, a giant, white two-story with red front doors and a huge favorite of mine, and 4050 Chartley, the lonesome white house on the corner lot of Chartley and Bondurant. The Chartley house is largely still intact, but the Manteca house, like its neighbor just up the street, is completely down to the concrete basement foundation.
When will Lambert learn? Again, I hope the fire district slaps the airport with enormous fines for allowing these houses to be put in this condition in the first place. If they needed them so badly, then they should take them down as soon as the owners move… not sitting vacant and useless for years. Its sad to see them destroyed via wrecker, but its even more sickening to watch them get vandalized and victimized to the point of arson. I hope the airport will now have the dignity to take out the rest of the homes soon before more families watch their homes burn away for nothing. The embarrassing news from last week’s post is bad enough for the residents. Hopefully, this rash of arson will make the news and give Lambert a slap on the other cheek.
4217 Manteca was completely destroyed on April 29th, 2008 by fire. It is the house from the night shot in this post. This house was in the top ten favorites for photographing, mainly because it had good light in the main rooms coming through the holes in the wall, and was fairly interesting overall. It was charming and definitely well-cared for until the very end. I’d even venture to guess that these people had pride in their house as it was updated with good carpet and contemporary kitchen styles. The clashing juxtaposition of an updated and cared for home with the vandalism made for a great subject. I’m not entirely sure when the occupants moved out, but it sat vacant for some time. In fact, it was not subject to vandalism until around the summer of 2007. Once it started, however, I think it became a favorite hangout for kids. Not a weekend went by where something was sprayed on it… including the large, multi-colored ‘Wade’ tagged across the garage door. Disgustingly enough, however, there were racial slurs scribbled across this house. Yet, like most ignorant racists with spray cans, these guys spilled their dim-witted messages with errors. One large swastika was sprayed ‘proudly’ across the road in blue and red… only to have the arms of the sign face left, not right.
4050 Chartley was found burning in the back corner of the house on the same night. The firefighters found this one just beginning to smolder when they were called out to attend to the Manteca fire. They were able to put out the small fire without too much damage, but its suffered much smoke damage throughout the house. I liked this house mainly for its location, and its isolation. Early on, even before I knew I was going to do this whole project, I would photograph this house. Its placement at the wide corner of Chartley and Bondurant and its early isolation from any other houses made for intriguing compositions. Once in a while when I would shoot this house, a plane would fly directly belly-overhead and I would scramble to get its tail in the shot. Once the racist taggers got to this house and managed to draw a correct swastika for once, I stopped photographing this place. That has finally began to wear off and I’m starting to be more interested in shooting here again. Like all the houses left now, its also gone through some pretty dramatic transformations. When I first really noticed it, it was boarded up… in 2002. It remained clean, white and black, intact and boarded up for 5 years, until 2007 when all the houses left started getting targeted by vandals. One thing has remained the same with this house- it has the most amazing burning bush outside its front door that in the fall it absolutely fires up the entire facade. I have never seen foliage turn so glowing red-orange in my life as on this bush. This house, largely, is still left, for now.