*An order was put forth in Tennessee Thursday to demolish the birth home of Aretha Franklin because it’s a hazard to the community.
A Shelby County Environmental Court order put the deteriorating abode into a city receivership with an order to “abate nuisance through demolition,” reports USA Today.
“Nobody wants to tear it down, but also it can’t stay like it’s been, without being secured or maintained, forever,” said Steve Barlow, a staff attorney for the city of Memphis and a leader of the non-profit Neighborhood Preservation Inc.
The small home sits on a residential street in South Memphis, surrounded by other boarded-up properties. The front of the house is secured, but the left side is sagging, and a fire a few years ago led to a collapsed roof on an added back portion, which remained open to entry as of Saturday.
The Queen of Soul was born in the front of the house on March 25, 1942, and lived there for two years before her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, moved the family first to Buffalo and later to Detroit.
The listed owner and defendant on the court order is Vera L. House, who said she raised 12 children there but hasn’t lived in the house for years.
“I turned it over to the courts to try to find someone who would keep it standing, but they waited so long until the house is about to fall,” said House. “The front, where (Aretha) was born, is still good. I think the front could be saved if they tear the back of it off.”
Complicating matters is a legal dispute between House and the property’s mortgage owner.
“The taxes and everything are still in my name. I didn’t know what to do about that. I can’t afford to pay it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m through with it,” said House, although she also noted that her son was currently living in it “to try to keep people from tearing it up worse.”