Monday, June 29, 2009

Al's house


Al Emmons, 71, of Greenfield, WI had a house that needed to be demolished, but the contractor wanted $10,000 to do the job. So he gave everything away, and he had people standing 16 deep, "picking the place cleaner than a Thanksgiving Turkey."

Green shoots in recycling or green shoots in desperation? You make the call!

The story:

Greenfield — In these tough times, you don't just throw stuff out.

Even if that stuff is a house.

So, when Al Emmons, 71, needed to tear down an old two-story, four-bedroom place at the corner of W. 90th St. and Plainfield Ave., he decided to "recycle" it.

"The contractor wanted $10,000 to demolish the place," Emmons said. "I figured there must be a better way. Time to go green."

With the help of his son, Emmons posted pictures of the house on Craigslist, an online advertising service. He offered to let people come and take what they wanted.

You won't believe what happened next.

People lined up, sometimes 16 deep, picking the place cleaner than a Thanksgiving turkey.

They took shower curtains and piping, toilets and sinks, aluminum siding and truckloads of floorboards.

The City of Franklin claimed the rubble for fill on N. Cape Road.

Someone even dug up the onions in the backyard garden.

"One lady took the rose bush," Emmons said. "Someone else wanted that apple tree over there, but I think that's too big to move."

The house was built in 1937. Emmons bought it 18 months ago, hoping to fix it up. But the place was in such bad shape that he couldn't get an insurance company to cover it. Without insurance, a bank wouldn't offer financing.

"Tearing it down was the only option," Emmons said.

He sold $800 worth of windows but gave away everything else. There were five layers covering that old house: wood, fake brick, aluminum siding, stucco and Lannon stone. So there was plenty to take.

Shane Stewart, 30, of Menomonee Falls hauled away a big pile of two-by-fours that he plans to use to build his cabin in Tomahawk.

"It's saving me a lot of money," Stewart said.

Rick Kusisto, 53, of Greenfield filled five truckloads of wood siding that he plans to burn in his outdoor fire pit. He spent hours pulling nails out of the boards and selling buckets of them at the dump.

"My kids think I'm nuts," Kusisto said. "But you know what? We can't just throw everything away and watch all these landfills fill up. It's got to stop somewhere."

That was precisely what Emmons thinks.

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