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On the morning of February 25th, excavation trucks turned up on site at 2316-2320 Colfax Avenue South. Then came the backhoe. By around 9 o’clock, demolition was under way. The backhoe went at the Orth House all day, but still hadn’t completely demolished it. Compare that to the usual time it takes to demolish a modern dwelling–less than an hour.
Two men worked on the demolition, one on the backhoe and another guy walking around seemingly aimlessly, heedless of peril from lead-filled particulates and falling debris. Neither wore respirators to protect themselves from the toxic dust. At one point the machine operator knocked the chimney and a large chunk of the front gable and cornice onto the front of the backhoe. The site was not roped off, and at times debris fell onto the sidewalk.
Brian Finstad, who watched the demo, reported on this OSHA nightmare: “The Orth House demolition was done without proper procedure for lead containment. Neighbors watched as literally plumes of lead contaminated dust rose into the air and on a very windy day disbursed upon the neighborhood. Only after well into an hour into the demolition (and they probably realized they were being photographed) did they bring out a hose to spray down the dust, but even that was only a token effort and the contaminate continued to disburse into the neighborhood.”
Le roi est mort, vive le roi! The Orth House is gone, long live the legacy of T,P. Healy, King of the Queen Anne!
Photo credits: Anders Christensen, Will Lumpkins, Trilby Busch, Bob Roscoe.