AUSTIN — Last month, owners of Austin’s iconic pink house up for sale dropped its listing price to $160,000 in an effort to find a buyer that could give the house the TLC it needs. But now, the family that has lived there for the past 30 years say they aren’t giving up on the house without a fight.
And their realtor wants to help them stay.
At the suggestion of realtor Jeanne Keating, the owners of the home at 556 N. Central Ave. launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to fund costly repairs — and to keep the home in the hands of the family that painted the Victorian its signature pink-and-white color. With the house in need of roof and porch work, the fundraiser aims to raise $300,000.
“We’re going to try and rally together and keep them in their home,” Keating said, “and have contractors that I know come in and put on a new roof, do a new porch, put in a new kitchen. I thought little by little we could get this done.”
Co-owner Yolanda Anderson said she’d be happy enough if somebody purchased the home to restore it themselves, but wants to do whatever it takes to protect the house from being demolished because she doesn’t want to see another piece of Austin’s history disappear forever.
“So many of Chicago’s historic places has been left to degenerate into further disrepair or have been torn down,” Anderson said. “We have seen it happen in the community in the past.”
Since the house has become such a staple in the neighborhood, Anderson hopes the fundraiser will allow neighbors who frequently pass by the house to chip in on the effort to preserve the look and feel of the old Victorians on Central Avenue.
“We thought we would try as a last effort to appeal to our community to help since the house has seemed to become a landmark of sorts,” she said. “We believe in preserving history which is one of the main reasons my parents took on this project several years ago.”
The house was initially built in 1894 and came under the ownership of Anderson’s parents in 1986 after being neglected for years. Since buying the house, the family worked to bring the house back from the brink of disrepair, eventually painting it in brilliant pink and white.
However, after suffering two fires in recent years, the costs of maintaining the old home have outpaced the Anderson family’s ability to keep up. Anderson’s father dealt with all repairs and upkeep on the house himself, but since he fell ill and passed away four years ago, the family has been at a loss for how to keep the house in good shape. Without the financial resources to pay for repairs, they’ve been forced to put the house on the market.
“The house means the world to us as it is also full of memories of my father….We would hate to see it fall into further disrepair or worse, torn down because we are not financially able to continue. We have been working on a solution these past two years with grant searches and placing the house up for sale,” Anderson said.
Keating said that while she had been working diligently to find a buyer for the family ever since the house was put on the market, she would be heartbroken for them to have to leave their home. The realtor donated $100 to the fundraiser and said she is pulling all the stops to make sure they can raise enough money to stay.
“If you know the family and you know the history and the love and the kindness of them, it just makes it so much easier to take the money out of it and just do the right thing so that maybe they can stay,” she said.
For more information or to donate, visit the GoFundMe page here.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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