IMG_0086_2.jpg
IMG_0133_2.jpg
IMG_5001.jpg
IMG_5446.jpg
IMG_5538.jpg
IMG_5822.jpg
IMG_0086_2.jpg

one


SCROLL DOWN

one


Hi. I'm Dee Briggs - the artist behind the House of Gold project. This house has a story to tell about its history and about our future. With the help of great friends, I painted the house gold, prior to demolition, hoping that it might encourage everyone to see the value in people and places - before they are gone. From the beginning I have seen the project as a metaphor for the lives of young people in my community and communities like it. Just yesterday 12/15/14 the body of an 18 year old boy was found, shot to death, about 8 blocks from the House of Gold site. If more people had seen the gold in that young boy - he, and so many before him, would still be here. 

 A never ending pile of lath.

A never ending pile of lath.

 Mark working on the interior demo.

Mark working on the interior demo.

IMG_0133_2.jpg

two


two


After making this web site and painting the house I couldn't bring myself to smash it into pieces - the way of a typical demolition. So I assembled a team and came up with a plan to demolish the house - gently - hoping to save as much of the material as possible. This is not the fastest, easiest or cheapest way to demolish a house - but I felt it was the right thing to do. With the help of 249 people, I raised over $30,000 on Kickstarter to support the project. I hired a professional demolition contractor based in the community to lead the heavy lifting. And then hired 7 of my neighbors to help me process, trim, de-nail, organize and store all of the material from the house. All told it took us 7 weeks to complete the gentle demolition. 

 From the living room looking toward the kitchen.

From the living room looking toward the kitchen.

 Dominic and Snoop on the roof. 

Dominic and Snoop on the roof. 

IMG_5001.jpg

three


three


 Howard folding up the tin roof.

Howard folding up the tin roof.

 Debbie de-nailing the most beautiful roof board.

Debbie de-nailing the most beautiful roof board.

IMG_5446.jpg

four


four


This project has been a tremendous challenge and hugely rewarding. It created new friendships and professional relationships  across the lines of generation, race, economics and gender. It created work for people who need to work and people who love to work. It gave an old house with a fantastic history a grand farewell and saved over 85% of the building material from the landfill. It helped people remember what the neighborhood was and imagine what it could be in the future. It got a lot of people in Wilkinsburg talking - about blight, taxes, jobs and art. And on the sunny days when we weren't freezing in the snow there was even some dancing.

 Floor joists.

Floor joists.

 Twenty foot long 2" x 5" studs.

Twenty foot long 2" x 5" studs.

 The siding that was hiding under the fiber cement shingles.

The siding that was hiding under the fiber cement shingles.

IMG_5538.jpg

five


five


One day during the beginning of the demolition, a boy about 12 who I'd seen around the neighborhood stopped me on the street and asked, "Why are you tearing down the House of Gold? I love that house." An opinion I am certain he didn't have before it was gold. I pointed to the houses around us - all broken down and boarded up - and said, "See all of those houses? They're all gold - on the inside. Just like you and me."

IMG_5822.jpg

six


six