Saturday, August 22, 2009

Being in a Pickle isn't so bad

On Wednesday, I had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pickle Mansion.

John Haas, the owner, was our tour guide. He's in the process of rebuilding the mansion for his family by returning it to its original state of a three bedroom home. He's a landlord in the Fort and owner of the Fort Sanders Yacht Club, so I'm told, so it makes sense for him and his family to live there. I'm not sure when it will be done, but what an amazing home it will make one day.
He's owned the house for about three years now and has been busy fixing the foundation. This included removing extremely large and incredibly heavy water containers (I don't remember the technical name of them) without making the whole house collapse. The stone work is gorgeous on the ground level. He showed us several archways he's had to rebuild.
From what he said, it sounds like the foundation is set, and so he'll finally be able to move on to the second and third floor, which, of course, is all necessary for the installation of the roof. The damage that was done originally by the fire and over the past six years by water is extensive. I finally realize what a task he has taken upon himself to fix the Pickle Mansion. Calling it a labor of love is an understatement; a labor of insanity is more accurate.

I didn't even know before visiting how the fire six years ago started, but I learned that the mansion used to be split up into several apartments. Supposedly, one of the tenant's girlfriend had just broken up with him, he couldn't pay rent, and as a result, was asked to vacate his apartment.

Shortly after his eviction notice, his neighbors heard him come in, make a bunch of noise, and leave. A few minutes later, smoke was coming out of his apartment. His neighbors tried to break the glass on the fire extinguisher to find it was not glass, but lexan, an unbreakable material. The landlord had replaced the glass with lexan because his tenants had (gotten drunk and) broken the glass one too many times.

The neighbor beat the encased extinguisher until the whole thing fell on the ground. By then they had to leave because the fire was spreading.

All this is hearsay, and the disgruntled tenant was never convicted. It could have all been an accident. All we know now is that John Haas has his work cut out for him for the next decade or two. I hope he finds it within himself to keep going, and to invite me back over when it's all said and done.

12 comments:

benjamin said...

first of all, amazing title for this post - puns are probably my favorite form of comedy.

also, why is it called the pickle mansion and where is it in the fort?

B said...

According to wikimapia (which I did not know existed until today), "The house, located at 1633 Clinch Avenue, was built by G.W. (George Washington) Pickle, a Confederate veteran and former state attorney general."

So Mr. Pickle and his family lived there. The year it was built is in question, but it was around 1889.

B said...

PS glad you like the title. I revel in the cheesiness that are puns.

monad said...

extremely large and incredibly heavy water containers

cisterns

benjamin said...

wow, yea i totally went to a party there my freshman year at UT. with big dave, for those of you who know who that is...

i remember going to the party, and then about a week or a month later i drove by it and noticed that it was completely burned. weird.

i didn't even know i was in a pickle.

micah daniel said...

great post b. i have always been intrigued by this place. i look forward to its rebirth!

max. said...

i saw some guys in lawn chairs drinking on the front second story balcony one night.

Anonymous said...

I walk by the pickle mansion everyday on my way to work. Is there any chance Mr. Haas gives public tours? My desire to see the inside of this place has invoked an itch i have to scratch!

Johann von Brittbrau said...

when i was in UTarch sch, i lived at 1805 clinch in the mid 70s… i had a frd who lived in the pickle house & a frd in the apts next door at 17th and clinch. the pickle apt he lived in was incredibly gorgeous and hundreds of plants inside , it was a like a shangra-la…

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