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Two Southeast Houses Collapsing–Not Work-Related

November 30, 2012

Two rowhomes on the 200 block of S. Madeira Street are collapsing and, in an unusual twist, the reason appears to have nothing to do with shoddy workmanship on a basement digout.

Contractor George Waldhauser snapped a few pictures of the houses at 241 and 243 S. Madeira Street, both of which have been condemned as uninhabitable by city inspectors. (The photo at left is his. It depicts the steps of one house separating from the sidewalk). Waldhauser says the tenants moved out just before Thanksgiving. Attempts to reach the respective owners, who according to tax records paid $242,500 and $219,000 for the homes in 2005, were unsuccessful.

The houses have been crumbling fast for the past few days, but Waldhauser—who does a lot of work in the area—says water seepage has been a problem for months. Department of Public Works spokesman Kurt Kocher confirms that his agency has tested the water and determined that it’s not from city pipes: “We are doing a thorough investigation,” he emails. “Preliminary cause, as confirmed by repeated testing, is groundwater.”

Why groundwater is suddenly a problem in a neighborhood that was built 100 years ago is a mystery though.

“We’ll let you know when we know,” says Kocher.

More sad pictures: