The most iconic, photogenic, and yes-my favorite home in Carrollton have burned to almost nothing the evening of Friday, July 18th.
When you document a static place consistently for almost two years, you find small niches where you return to again and again. 4245 Manteca was a house where I felt comfortable within, which is completely unexplainable for such a pathetic, haunting place. Every time I return to the Carrollton wasteland, this house never seemed to lose that feeling that it was someone’s beloved home. Despite the boarded up windows, glass patio door reduced to shards and welcoming in the elements, trashed out interior from wayward transients, and layers of boring graffiti, it still managed to carry on its former family’s presence. I have no idea when this place was abandoned; it was vacant long before I started this project. Considering it had boarded up windows and the airport stopped the practice of boarding up anything since 2003, this place had to have been abandoned for 4 years or more. I would venture to guess it had been vacant for even more years than that.
This house had some unusual characteristics such as customized interior archways and bold, bright colors. There was a terriffic skylight in the kitchen that cast a warm glow over all the glass and debris that vandals left in their wake. An umber-toned brick mantle was the focus of a living room that was slowly being claimed by English ivy. The yard was filled with the evidence of its former family. There was a kid’s playset out back, nice quaint landscaping with pretty flowers in selected garden spots, a doghouse, birdhouses, etc. The overall look of the interior was rather outdated. A brown built-in stove matching dark woodwork in the kitchen and a dated color scheme suggested that remodeling was put off until they knew what would happen from the airport expansion. Remodling in Carrollton was simply not done after the buyouts began since people knew they would not get their money out of it. Keep in mind that rumors of the buyout were circulating in the late 1980s and the process actually began in the early 1990s. Therefore, it makes some sense that this house may have not updated since the 80s. I have come across more than a few houses that had some pretty old features, and 4245 certainly was no exception.
Its sad to think that some people had to wait as long as they did before they knew the fate of their homes, living in places that perhaps they wanted to upkeep but knew it was senseless to spend the money to do so. During the buyout process, homeowners were not allowed to remove any feature of the house, including appliances- even if they were brand new. If something was removed or broken, they would be charged for a new replacement and an added fee. Lambert Airport had contracts with refurbishing and removal companies who would come into the Carrollton houses and remove diswashers, washing machines, freezers, fridges, microwaves, ceiling fans, light fixtures sinks, moulding, cabinets, bathtubs, mailboxes, shutters, carpet, anything the company wanted. Homeowners could pay a flat $500 fee if they wanted to take any listed items from the home, but if someone wanted just their mailbox, they were screwed. A family friend had to buy two microwaves when moving out; one for the new home and one to replace a damaged one for their Carrollton home. Sure, it makes sense to recycle these things (and I applaud the recycling efforts) but it was done in a way such the homeowners felt ripped off of their belongings as others gained a bargain. So many tacky practices were done in this buyout, and by not allowing the homeowners access to their own fixtures was just one.
My grandfather was remodeling his home in 2000. He wanted some cabinetry and moulding so he went to one of those contracted companies’ warehouses. His contact told him that almost everything in that particular warehouse was Carrollton removals, and they had even more warehouses full of stuff. My grandfather was told they were so full of items from Carrollton that the company wanted to end their agreement. Nevertheless, Lambert was still somewhat stringent with their appliance and feature non-removal practice when my mom moved out 2006. She bought some cheap fixtures to replace more expensive ones she wanted to use in her new home. My husband and I swapped out her good refrigerator in Carrollton for our old, barely-working one from our house. The closers from the buyout didn’t seem to notice any of it. When her house went down, some of the listed fixtures went with it. I have photos zooming in on the ceiling fan and sink in the kitchen, with all the cabinets surounding it intact.
One family we know of had a teenager who threw a nice little going-away party in their house shortly after moving out. Since the house was going to be demolished anyway, the kids thought they’d help out the crew by taking some sledgehammers to the walls and added some good-bye messages in spray paint. The parents were fined (I believe) $1000 for property destruction. Yes, they were fined for destroying property that was destructed shortly thereafter. I guess the airport wanted to set a precedent for not destroying property. Too bad their high standards for keeping property intact is not going so well after all.
Watching 4245 Manteca go from a simple, boarded up house with some quaint, homely characteristics to a defaced, battered mess, to finally nothing more than an umber-coloured chimney arising from a blanket of black ash has been one of the most saddening experiences in this project. This place was truly, yet unexplictibly, my favorite house in all of Carrollton that remained. There is one left standing that I am partial to, but none of the rest have given me the same insight as this one.