Vacant house razed on Grammar Street

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 22, 2000

A City of Vicksburg Street Department crew cleans up the site of a demolished abandoned home on Grammar Street. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

City crews knocked down a half-dozen houses on the north side of Grammar Street Thursday, while those on the other side of the street still face uncertain futures.

A demolition order hangs over all 30 or so houses on the street, although the city has granted reprieves to those houses that are occupied.

Those smashed Thursday were vacant, mostly unpainted wood shells with doors missing, windows broken out.

The houses on the street that parallels railroad tracks near Phelan’s Crossing are in violation of numerous building codes, many are literally falling apart and City Inspector Charles James has pronounced the area unfit to live in.

Since the conditions on Grammar Street became public knowledge this summer, several churches and individuals have asked about how they could help, said North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young.

But since most of the residents were buying their houses through lease-purchase agreements, they don’t have the deeds to their properties, and that complicates spending charitable funds to fix the houses, Young said.

Young said she has received a letter from Lawrence Koestler, the owner of several properties on the street, promising to forgive the debt owed by residents in his properties there and hand over the deeds. But subsequent attempts to contact him about the offer have failed, she said.

“We’ve still not gotten a response,” Young said. “So we’re holding off on tearing any more down until we get that cleared up.”

Koestler could not be reached for comment today.

Demolition is on hold while confusion over the deeds is sorted out, but if the houses aren’t repaired to city codes, they will eventually have to be demolished, she said.