Wednesday, August 26, 2009

293 Lyon Street Demo

In late May, the demolition of a rear shed at 293 Lyon Street revealed the neighbouring lot's peculiar shed featured in this URBSite post. 293 Lyon is the red-brick building behind the blue and white one at the corner of Lyon and Cooper:

Since then, this Sun story from June revealed that Carmen Argentina had bought 293 Lyon Street in April and plans to replace the oft-vandalized building with a multi-unit complex on the 31-by-99-foot lot. Photo #12 on this Ottawa Sun collection shows an additional interior view with the graffiti.

Because the house is in a zone with heritage designation (it's right at the border of the zone, according to eMAP), there must be a proposal to rebuild within five years before a demolition permit is issued. One assumes plans are ready, because a demolition permit was issued and will be carried out tomorrow.

This post contains a twice the usual number of photos because it combines shots from May and from earlier this week.

Here's the front of the house. In late May, previous graffiti had been recently cleared and the front door and window were boarded off. The window above the porch dormer was open. Since then, more graffiti was added. The plywood boarding up the front door has been removed, and yet another coat of graffiti is visible on the brickwork, as well as the front sidewalk and second-storey windows. A thin line across the middle of the facade suggests there was a full-length porch at some point many years in the past:

The front of the house has a bit of character to it. The roofline looks as though it were sliced off in a haphazard renovation some decades ago. (August photo)

Along the South side of the house, incomplete eavestroughing along the steep roof has led to damage to the brickwork. There's one window on the ground floor toward the rear of the building. (May photo)

The front porch is quite crooked, though the humble little porch light remains intact. (May photo)

On the North side of the house, along the laneway, there are two windows on each level. In May (first photo), the utilities were still connected, and the wall was relatively clean. You can see the yellow rear addition, and the gravel pad (at far right) where the previous shed had been. The shed featured in the URBSite post is visible on the other side of the fence. By this week (second photo), there is much more graffiti, and three sets of services are disconnected. The mesh cover over the basement window at the front of the house is also gone.

The two windows sticking out from the roof are undamaged by vandalism, though they've taken a beating from the elements.

At the rear of the house was an interesting extension. While the exterior wall is continuous, it's clear (especially post-demolition) that only half of it was built on a foundation. The demolition appears to have been done carefully, as some re-usable lumber is stacked up at the rear of the lot. While it was still standing, some Arabic girls drew flowers on the wall, and a dashed line with scissors around the rearmost doorway:

The rear of the roof back in May had a rope ladder slung over the chimney, probably by people breaking in through the (recent looking) rear window, whose screen is sliced and hanging down.

By August, the window has been removed (probably salvaged for future use), and surprisingly, the rope ladder has not.

Here's a view of the whole building from May, showing the relative proportions of the house and rear shed. The back wall has a cute little square window with a couple of panes broken.

Looking through the hole in the window, one could see the wooden dividing wall between the two sections of the rear part of the building (the sections with and without a foundation). The rearmost section was entirely uninsulated, full of litter and covered in graffiti. On the door dividing the section is written "Mort aux capitali$tes" ("death to capitalists")

In the corner between the back of the main part of the building and the rear extension were some bricks and a little shovel with a broken handle:

I was surprised to see the shovel still there after the rear part was removed. It was joined by a kitchen sink. I guess you can find anything at a demo site.

Here's the back of the building with its rear removed. You can see the foundation that was under part of the rear extension, and its interface with the main part of the building.

Looking closer at the side edge, you can get an idea of how the building was assembled, with a layer of brick exterior over a wood-board frame. At some point, a large opening was closed off and reduced to a single doorframe. The big gap in the crawlspace beneath probably made the whole house difficult to heat. And a couple of wires are still sticking out into the pit.

But they don't go anywhere. It's the end of the line for these wires--and for this house.

A couple of people I know who had looked at buying the house when it was on the market knew that it was a "fixer-upper" at least, and more likely a "tearer-downer." One person said it was only on the market for two days until it was picked up.

Let's hope the triplex that replaces it will fit in nicely with the heritage character of the neighbourhood.


  1. "some Arabic girls drew flowers on the wall" ... Just a thought: Does it matter that the girls were Arabic? Would you have said "some white girls" if it had been the case?

  2. A girl wrote her name, "Vanessa," in Arabic on the wall. No, it doesn't matter that she is Arabic.

    It also doesn't matter that she drew flowers, but I described that, too. Does it matter that the anti-capitalist graffiti was in French?

    I hope I didn't cause offense by referring to the house as having "red" brick, and "yellow" siding on the back wall, or by suggesting it is "old".