Rubble and Dust

Are some buildings worth tearing down?

I’m all about seeing existing structures re-purposed and houses rehabbed, but is there a ever a time when it is better to tear down? This question comes up a lot with urban redevelopment efforts in Indianapolis and recently I witnessed an old home being demolished in the Monon 16 neighborhood at the intersection of 19th and Alvord.

This was no ordinary demolition.  I was there with about 50 other folks (including the Mayor) to witness the demolition of one of Indianapolis’ most frequented brothels. For years, and with much pushback, neighborhood developers were seeking to purchase this building so that they could shut down this business and eventually bring down this landmark of crime and victimization.  Finally, the purchase of the property was successful and here we were watching the walls crumble.

When something has stood for so long as a symbol or representation of darkness and oppression I think you send a positive, strong, and hopeful message when you tear it down. That was my feeling when this brothel was being laid low by a bulldozer. While I typically don’t like to celebrate destruction, this day I found myself cheering on. Here is a song devoted to this hopeful development via demolition—of a corner of fear being turned into a corner of new life.


Some folks get together for breaking ground
Today they are gathered for tearing down
More than just an eye-sore, a symbol of pain
A house which marred beauty,
And caused undue shame

Here it goes, rubble and dust
Here it goes, a new story will be told
No more tears, no more pain
No more money will be paid

No more fear for kids when they’re walking by
I believe this place will be brought to life
Years and years of heartbreak, a troubled past
Tear down this house, bring relief at last.


Some folks get together for breaking ground
Today they are gathered for tearing down
Oh please tear it down.