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For added than 40 years, the abode at Indianola and Tibet has been Bob Erickson’s curious, inventive task in progress. Now he skill lose it.

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Admirers and detractors settle for their very own names for the abode on the bend of Indianola and Tibet: the Swiss Ancestors Robinson home, the Ewok abode (in a nod to Star Wars), Peter Pan’s Place, the Eighth Admiration of Clintonville, the Human Hamster Abode (maybe due to the lengthy, lined aisle accession from the capital abode to the deserted barn on the aback of the property).

However about anyone who’s lived in Clintonville for any breadth of time is acquainted of the castle-like anatomy on the southwest bend of Indianola Avenue and Tibet Street, which has been in assorted levels of reimagining for the completed 45 years. Few, nevertheless, apperceive why purchaser Bob Erickson added three turrets to what was already a plain-Jane brick sq., or why he congenital the snaking, aloft aisle on its arctic aspect, or why he created an amid cupola towards the rear of the house with a ladder as its deserted entry. “As related as I’ve lived right here, I’d canyon it and admiration about it,” says Libby Wetherholt, administrator of the Clintonville Breadth Fee.

Some settle for in contrast it to the Winchester Abstruseness Abode in San Jose, California, breadth the fabulously prosperous added Sarah Winchester, of the Winchester gun fortune, tailored a babyish residence right into a seven-story Victorian abode with added than 160 rooms, luggage of doorways and trapdoors and staircases to nowhere. However whereas the widow’s related structure and rebuilding of her residence for a number of many years within the backward 1800s and aboriginal 1900s appeared to simply accept little goal above her personal whims, Erickson’s additions to his 100-year-old abode settle for been abounding with goal.

Sadly, goal too typically outpaced progress, and because the years glided by, abounding of Erickson’s initiatives went unfinished, abrogation plentiful of the about rising abode in assorted states of blunder or disrepair. If the house wasn’t already a much-talked-about concern within the neighborhood, the apocalyptic orange “Hazard” indicators slapped on the abstruseness residence’s doorways aftermost yr by the burghal kicked the whispering and account into overdrive on amusing media and past fences. Now Erickson—who had been alive there deserted afterwards a divorce—is confronted with an acclivous assault to accompany his much-beloved abode into acquiescence afterwards the burghal of Columbus accounted it uninhabitable

A blue-blooded endeavor

Erickson and his afresh spouse, Dot, purchased the two-story, three-bedroom abode in 1972 afterwards they confused to Columbus with their 3-year-old babe and a boyish acquaintance they had been caring for. Erickson, a abbot in Falls Church, Virginia, had been murderer a yr beforehand because the founding administrator for the Clintonville-Beechwold Affiliation Assets Middle, which the Arctic Broadway United Methodist Church was beginning. The Ericksons, whom their daughter, Ali Malley, calls “hippie amusing amends individuals,” certain drew absorption to their new residence by portray the trim aqua and orange. “It finest up the blush of the brick, I believed,” muses Bob, 76, as he talks about his residence’s historical past. At atomic one eyewitness complained, however they weren’t deterred.

The Ericksons had been plentiful too alive to anguish about one particular person’s critique. They’d adopted a babyish lady, Robin, whom they’d fostered aback she was an toddler, abacus to their household, which included adolescent Ali and a son, Charis. They had been closely complicated in affiliation service. Bob was perception for his doctorate in admiral from the Methodist Theological College in Ohio, amid in Delaware, and Dot was alive on the Girls’s Useful resource and Coverage Improvement Middle.

By 1975, they completed they naked added amplitude for their very own household, the advance accouchement they had been caring for and their advance work. They could not permit to maneuver, so Bob’s acuteness went to work. “We capital to accommodate lodging for added than our personal brood,” Bob explains. “We had been abnormally admiring to accouterment acquittal for dependent, deserted youngsters, who typically had been contrarily on the streets and, later, to all-embracing acceptance and others with assorted wants.”

And so the renovations and additions started—and continued, and continued. They capital a past acquisition space, so that they dug out the basement and created a 500-square-foot amplitude they alleged “residence base” that included a ancestors room, a kitchen (changing the tiny one on the aboriginal ground), a half-bath and a laundry room. The youngsters naked a comedy house, so Bob amid a aback balustrade and fabricated it right into a carpeted, alveolate allowance they abounding with pillows and dubbed “the pit.” “It was about Four anxiousness down, and we acclimated to leap into it,” Malley says.

Youngsters grew to become aggravated of administration sleeping quarters, so steadily Bob activate a method so as to add bristles added bedrooms, principally in an accession on the arctic ancillary of the house. Malley bought plentiful on the age of 18 and naked amplitude to accession her daughter, so her dad aloft the attic roof and congenital a third-floor lodging with a kitchen, bathtub, two bedrooms, a alive allowance and a eating space. They naked a spot, in Bob’s phrases, “to place junk,” so he added a added attic to the traditional, deserted barn on the rear of the property. Then, both for consolation’s account or due to a burghal declare (household recollections range), he congenital a 45-foot-long, aeriform walkway, adhering it to the home.

Bob capital a workshop, so he created one within the storage, afresh added a paved barn abutting to it for cartage and play. Anyone capital added accepted areas for gatherings, so that they added three amphitheater turrets to the house within the superior and a accouter on the again.

Jennifer Wray, who lives on Tibet a number of blocks from Erickson’s abode and grew up in Clintonville, says she’s persistently activate his abode architecturally fascinating. “It is persistently fabricated me smile to see it, and acutely accession lives there who has a affection for what he is doing,” she says. “It sounds prefer it’s a abode with a admirable historical past and a few affection to it. I would adulation to see the central someday.”

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Amanda Runyon Lynch lived on Tibet past the artery from Erickson’s abode from 1976 till 1989. “First it was aloof a accustomed home, and afresh the structure began,” says Lynch, who now lives in Beechwold. “For accouchement enviornment outdoors, it was a plentiful place. That they had braiding swings and there was a pool. I spent nearly all of my adolescence exercise aback and alternating amid my abode and that home.”

She says dad and mom on the artery had been persistently apprehensive what Erickson was abacus to the house, however nobody complained so far as she knew. “I do not completely anticipate our bodies completed how forward-thinking he was. He was completely alive a St. Francis actuality and sacrificing his personal alluvial wants to perform amplitude for his accretion household. It is black that some our bodies cannot settle for that.”

In a cardboard he wrote about his home, Erickson declared his structure motion this fashion: “Affected by a abiding mixture of under-appreciation for conformity, over-active acuteness and abridgement of coaching in building, I had added aplomb in my very own instincts. I advantaged what fabricated claimed sense—nevertheless acceptable and obscure—than clever others. I would fairly settle for beneath anticipated accession approaches.”

He deepened the superior balustrade and broadcast its roof with large beams so he may physique on prime of it, a motion that advance adolescent Bo Lee, now 46, remembers acutely as a result of a 600-pound axle about fell on them afore it slid into place, arresting catastrophe. Bob capital turrets fairly than balconies, for instance, as a result of he forged angular shapes and across-the-board views, not as a result of he capital so as to add whimsy to the home. “It grew to become added like portray an image, fundamental a poem, creating an ambiance afterwards a template,” he says.

A haven

Within the aback of his thoughts, Erickson persistently had a past goal in apperception for his residence. He and Dot dedicated themselves to adopting youngsters. Although he does not typically acknowledgment it, Bob was a advance adolescent himself, and finally was adopted. Dot, now Dot Erickson-Anderson, is a accountant amusing artisan and has fashioned with a array of adolescent abundance organizations all through her life.

She afresh tallied up all the children they’d helped through the years and warranted they’d fostered six preschoolers, bristles infants, eight children from the Ohio Youth Fee, 47 youngsters via clandestine foster-care businesses and 33 plentiful adolescent girls and their 30 infants. They moreover offered performing acquittal affliction to 99 adolescent our bodies and opened their residence to seven foreign-exchange college students, six all-embracing adults and a academy apprentice alive with deafened youngsters.

Quite a few organizations moreover met on the residence—some alike had places of work there—because the Ericksons’ task broadcast through the years.

Not agreeable with aloof one home, in 2000 they bought the abode abutting aperture at 2927 Indianola Ave., each as an advance and as a “moat,” in Bob’s phrases, to guarantee the capital home. Bob tailored that too, however in a added accepted look so it might be busy out.

A antagonistic time

By the mid-2000s, task on the capital abode apoplectic as bloom issues, job adjustments and, lastly, Bob and Dot’s break fabricated advance difficult. Bob aback activate himself alive within the once-crowded abode alone, and initiatives that had already abounding him with pleasure stagnated as he permitted to acquisition his basement on this new actuality.

To manage, Bob confused into the third-floor lodging and busy the blow of the house to a buddy, Robert Caldwell, who lived there for about seven years together with his spouse and youngsters. “We painted, bankrupt it up and did slightly modify work,” says Caldwell, controlling administrator for AnswerPoverty.org. “My youngsters alleged it the Swiss Ancestors Robinson Treehouse. It was plentiful for us as a result of we naked a abode to acreage and we had been blessed to be there.”

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On the aforementioned time, Bob had began on a brand new challenge, what he now calls a conservatory on the northeast bend of the home. He dug out beneath the muse, added two perception of home windows and deliberate to place in an alfresco aperture and a aisle within the 14-foot-by-10-foot house. However afterwards years of affairs permits from town’s structure administration for his initiatives, he fabricated a mistake. He let his oft-renewed admittance for the conservatory lapse. The burghal swooped in.

Vacate orders

For years, explains Anthony J. Celebrezze III, an abettor administrator with the Columbus Administration of Structure and Zoning, the burghal had its eye on Erickson’s residence. His task was unconventional, and infrequently accession would alarm and accuse concerning the tarps he’d put up or the irregular additions he was making. However inspectors had no account to analyze the house’s autogenous till a yr in the past, aback that structure admittance expired.

That accustomed cipher inspectors to airing via the whole home, they usually weren’t blessed with what they discovered. “There was obvious wiring, amateurish structure areas that had cruise hazards and railings that could not authority an individual’s weight forth walkways,” Celebrezze says, “There are ablaze equipment which might be blind bottomward from the beam by wires, a aisle that is a 2-by-Four laid past rafters and abstruse lodging within the rafters you admission by a ladder.”

Orange admonishing placards had been slapped assimilate the superior and aback doorways. “Hazard: Do Not Enter Alarming to Occupy” apprehend one; accession declared the structure “Vacant: Public Nuisance and/or Hazardous Constructing.”

On April 21, 2017, Erickson was ordered to desert the anatomy and get a brand new admittance to perform repairs. He confused in with a acquaintance and has lived there since. “He’s able-bodied accepted aural the burghal administration as a result of we have had complaints about his work, however he is persistently had alive permits, which prevented us from arising alarming orders,” Celebrezze says. “All our brokers settle for met him they usually apperceive he is a pleasant man. Sadly, ending initiatives doesn’t assume to be aerial on his record.”

In Could, the Columbus Division of Fireplace moreover inspected the house and bent it was a disaster to occupants, says military arch Steve Martin. It moreover might be a disaster to firefighters if it was afire they usually needed to chase for accessible occupants, Martin says. “We go into barrio on a regular basis which might be beneath building, and we acclimate to that affectionate of stuff,” he says. “But when we’re ample bottomward a alley and it takes us to a abode breadth we might be trapped or may abatement off from a aside railing, effectively, a acceptable alleyway is so much simpler.”

Erickson and his ancestors had been abashed and abashed by town’s order, which plentiful aliment that naked to be fabricated afore anybody may take in the house once more. He moreover was instructed to nominate a structural architect to audit the abode and attain suggestions. “This abode has gotten as plentiful acumen as any abode within the metropolis,” says Erickson, who calls the inspectors’ appointment a “fishing expedition.”

Lastly, in September, Erickson accustomed a brand new admittance so he may activate structure once more. Aback afresh he is been alive seven canicule a anniversary to accomplishment the conservatory and accompany it as much as code, in accession to authoritative added acceptable aliment and alive to perform the structural engineer’s suggestions, which included abacus added abutment within the cupola and authoritative aliment to a aback balcony. The burghal does not settle for a particular borderline for Bob to accomplishment the aliment naked to perform the house accouter once more. “We urge for food him to be aback in the home,” Celebrezze says. “It is his property. However he is bought to get the abode as much as a protected customary.”

If Erickson does not comply, the burghal may booty him to Franklin County Municipal Courtroom’s Environmental Division, breadth a adjudicator may adjustment him to promote the acreage or set a borderline for repairs. However Erickson, forth together with his ancestors and associates, has no urge for food of absolution that occur. His grandchildren and Bo Lee, his above advance youngster, settle for been allowance him with building. His babe Ali, as able-bodied as a abutting buddy, settle for gone with him to acquisition out from structure administration admiral completely what must be finished. Anyone is allowance him break on task (he admits he will get calmly distracted) and befitting his acuteness in examine.


In November, Erickson anesthetized an evaluation for some basement and basis task on the solarium. He feels he is authoritative above advance and will accommodated town’s calls for aural a number of months. “I accumulate pondering, ‘What’s the avenue to get this scarlet letter off of my door?’” he says. “That they had some accepted apropos and I’ve bought to amuse them.”

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After that, he desires to apple-pie up the alfresco of the home, which has age-old and attenuated through the years. He wants to change siding, accommodate parts of the roof, repaint and adjustment the turrets and physique columns on the superior porch. “It is nonetheless exercise to be ‘the awe-inspiring home,’” Bob says. “But it surely’s bought to attending clear.”

He hopes that may allay a few of his critics, who settle for about mentioned his residence on the Clintonville Dialogue Discussion board’s Fb folio at atomic thrice, beginning in 2014. Whereas abounding appointment individuals suggested the house an aberrant allotment of Clintonville, a number of anticipation it was alarming and a bane on the neighborhood. One Clintonville citizen who acclimated to alive adjoining says she anesthetized the abode continuously and noticed deserted related states of disrepair, afterwards any progress. “It is an full eyesore,” says the 37-year-old lady who requested that her identify not be used. “It is a agglomeration of baffled structure work.” But alike she bidding accord for Erickson. “I can brainstorm he is aggravating to do plenty of the task himself and he is overwhelmed.”

Different Clintonville affiliation settle for been fast to seem to Erickson’s aegis on Fb, proposing that those that do not like Erickson’s forged of assortment ought to transfer to the suburbs, whereas others settle for mentioned it’s a home-owner’s claimed enterprise if he desires so as to add on to his residence.

Many admired they might bout the central of the abode afterwards watching it abound and alter through the years, and a number of other acceptable a affiliation “assist day” for the property. Bob, who’s a affiliate of the discussion board, responded in 2014 with “a accepted acknowledgment to anniversary of you apropos this interminably animal challenge” and vowed to “enhance my clip towards convalescent all-embracing cosmetics.” In a added contempo alternate, he commented that his absorbed had by no means been to exercise up frustration, criticism, acrimony or sympathy. “Slightly than commercial excuses for negligence, I am going to artlessly reiterate my cost to abide urge for food to perform it greater and higher; but, afterwards urge for food (or alike try) to anytime bout everybody’s tastes,” he wrote.

Wanting ahead

The approaching of the abode charcoal unclear.

Erickson abdicate his job as a lobbyist for the Starvation Alliance a number of years in the past, and he is alive on retirement belongings and borrowing cash to perform repairs. He does not settle for the cash to nominate staff, so he is conducting the task abundantly by himself, with the recommendation of ancestors and associates. Already he is completed, he says he’d wish to promote the abode to a nonprofit alignment that might abide to make use of it to recommendation others.

Celebrezze on the burghal structure administration says that might be troublesome. “It could be a claiming for whoever bought this home, as a result of it has plenty of liabilities,” he says.

Bob says his money owed could power him to promote anyway. “I would adulation to have the ability to canyon it on to the group,” he says. He ticks off some concepts: widespread residence for a faith-based group; a rooming home; a house for advance accouchement in transition; an artwork commune. Or, maybe, aloof an absorbing rental for a ample household.

The home, says Erickson, is in transition, “hopefully to grow to be a anchorage for a brand new anatomy of kindness, conceivably a special adaptation of caregiving, widespread alive house, specialised account to this group. I’m nonetheless perception precise assorted ideas and am accessible to concepts.”

Malley says it is adamantine for her to brainstorm her ancestor affairs the house. “It is so plentiful of you,” she tells him. Erickson smiles and sighs. “My grandchildren do not urge for food me to promote it, but it surely’s bought to in some way be productive. I am unable to abide to pay for issues and never settle for article seem again.”

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