LETTER: House renovation looked at differentlyHow sad it is that South Dakota communities have adopted “nuisance property ordinances.” We are destroying our history.
By: Lauretta Larsen, Mitchell
To the Editor:
I care about my house more than anyone else in Mitchell. I care so much that I want to do it right. An expert in the field of chalkstone was consulted as to the materials and methods appropriate for the repair of the house. The stone used is porous, moisture must be able to pass from stone to stone to escape, and the mortar used must be of the same porosity.
Sometime in the past, well-intentioned owners covered the chalkstone with paint. This caused an efflorescence to form on the surface of the chalkstone because the paint on the top no longer allowed the moisture to escape. I have been working to remove the paint and replace any stones that I do find damaged.
Fortunately, the double masonry wall is 18 inches thick and in almost no place is there damage to the structural portion of the walls or other parts of the house from any cause. And yes, the stones can look ugly until the surface grunge is scraped away, but I am constantly amazed by the beauty in each stone and the resiliency of the material.
There are people in Mitchell who are impatient, and it would appear, have no appreciation for the history of the town. How sad it is that South Dakota communities have adopted “nuisance property ordinances.” We are destroying our history.
We have appeared before the City Council and the Nuisance Property Board, as it seems every time there are new people we have to explain everything all over again. My “neighbor” has been oft quoted, but I recall only being interviewed once for an article a few years ago on the 10 oldest buildings in Mitchell. The recent article I think was basically fair, though it does have some inaccuracies.
Public opinion “tries” these cases long before any hearing and little respect is given to the owners. It is assumed they don’t care about their property when the opposite is likely true. People should look past temporary appearance to potential.
I was taught a different definition for “good neighbor.”
Lauretta Larsen is the owner of the historic Goodykuntz House.