by Michael R. Allen
Earlier this month, the flounder house at 2809 McNair (Rear) in Benton Park endured a collapse of part of one of its side walls as well as part of a its front (east) wall. The damage is severe, but the condition is not beyond the reach of some temporary telescoping jacks. In fact, the side wall that bears the roof weight is studded out, so there is a wall in place holding that weight for now. Of course, that wall is made of new soft pine and is not a long-term guarantee of survival. The building needs the corner relayed. No big deal!
As the photograph shows, the flounder consists of an original one-and-a-half story section and an addition at the low end of the roof. Building permits date the original house to 1884, and the addition to before 1900. the house has been vacant for the past five years, with some deterioration and structural problems.
The south side of the buidling has prominent stress cracks, but shows no imminent danger. If the owner doesn’t have fund to repair the collapse, he could remove the addition and restore the original flounder house, which probably had a gallery porch in the spot wher ethe addition now stands. There are always so many solutions that are not total demolition. Will our Buidling Division urge one of these other solutions this time?
A short walk down the alley and back onto Lynch Street, one finds an intact and lived-in flounder house. This flounder has a front-hipped roof instead of the severe side slope seen on others. The group of buildings in which it plays a part is a great example of how diverse forms, styles, materials and setbacks can create a unique urban street face.