How would you like to live across the street from this house?
This house at 715 N. 24th St., on the corner of Dale Street on Colorado Springs‘ west side is owned by Joseph O’Brien of O’Brien Printing. It has been sitting and rotting since it was condemned since 1973.
You read that correctly. The house was condemned when Richard Nixon was still in the White House. It has been a blight on the neighborhood ever since. That’s 37 years and counting.
It was built in 1905 by O’Brien’s grandmother. His son, Glen, has promised the city repeatedly to repair the house. And he has done considerable work, at times, on the structure.
In this photo, you can see the concrete basement he poured after jacking the structure up. Then he built a large addition on the back with the long, slanting roof that overhangs the original peak of the house.
You can also see, through the shoulder-high weeds, the rusting scaffolding that has stood for a decade or more since activity lurched to a halt.
For the past three years, neighbor Kevin Sutherland has had a front-porch view of the mess. He’s called the city, like many neighbors, wondering why something isn’t done to enforce the city’s 2006 blight ordinance and require O’Brien to repair the house.
The south side of the house is not much different. A hand-built ladder leans against the wall.
Inside the house, Glen O’Brien has amassed building materials such as doors and wood for his project. But mostly they’ve just sat, gathering dust. O’Brien did upgrade the electrical service to the house. But much more work remains.
In 2005, the O’Brien house became “exhibit A” in efforts to get a blight ordinance written into city codes. Those efforts finally succeeded in 2006.
But Ken Lewis, code enforcement administrator, said he’s been frustrated in his efforts to get the courts to take seriously the criminal summons his officers write for blight violations.
The O’Briens are an old Colorado Springs family. Joseph O’Brien’s father, William P. O’Brien, operated O’Brien Typesetting and Printing and amassed many properties in the city.
His holdings included a 10-acre parcel he bought in 1962 on South 21st Street now known as the Gold Hill Mesa subdivision.
The property included the old Golden Cycle Mill office building, the mill smokestack – a westside landmark – and a crusher building.
The printing business is on 19th Street, not far from Uintah Gardens Shopping Center. It has suffered the same fate at the house on 24th Street. It is overgrown with weeds and its 10 acres or so includes a collection of junk cars and other things.
If this house sounds familiar, you are a longtime Side Streets reader.