End Of The Line
House on Pennsylvania Ave. Hit 6 Times
Bad feng shui brought down a downtown Warren residence.
David and Laura Demers purchased the house at 6 Pennsylvania Avenue W. – between East and Water streets – 17 years ago.
It was a great location – right next to her parents’ home and right across from a city park – Celoron.
“We bought the house in 2003 when we moved to town, because we fell in love with the historic charm of the inside,” Laura Demers said. “My mom warned us that we wouldn’t like living on the avenue, but we couldn’t be swayed from the idea of restoring the beauty of that house.”
The beauty was somewhat hidden. She described the interior as ‘horrific,’ with five apartments before the renovation.
“My husband, my dad and I spent all day, every day for a year gutting and restoring that house in 2003,” she said. “We turned it into a single-family home.”
With the inside renovated, the main problem lay outside… and outside their control.
“It’s just a terrible location,” Demers said. “Our house sat just where the road curves after a long straight stretch.”
Pennsylvania curves at Franklin Street. From there, westbound traffic is aimed right at 6 Pennsylvania Avenue W.
Demers’ parents remember six crashes next to their property since the mid-1990s.
“A few years ago, in the middle of the afternoon, a car ran into the porch of the white house next door to ours,” she said.
By then, the Demers were already out. The final straw for them as far as living there had happened years before.
“In 2006 or 2007, a drunk driver ran over the tree in front of our house, clipped our porch, and then hit our truck in the driveway at 2 a.m.,” she said.
They had had enough. It was not the right place for the Demers to raise children.
“After having two babies and getting hit by the drunk driver, we couldn’t wait to move from the avenue,” Demers said.
They moved and the house because a rental property.
“We had one tenant in the house for the last 11 years,” Demers said.
At about 2 a.m. Wednesday, June 17, 2020, a tractor trailer westbound on Pennsylvania Avenue kept going straight when the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
That truck clipped the house at 4 Pennsylvania, then plowed into the side of the Demers’ property and “ran into our living room.”
The tenant was home, and in the path of the truck.
“He was sleeping right over where the semi hit, but he was not hurt,” she said.
The driver had shown problems before crashing into the house.
“Police were on the scene almost immediately after the crash because someone had already called to report the erratic driving of the semi as it was going down Penn Ave East and then drove through the red light at Conewango,” Demers said.
The house survived the impact. It was still standing. But there were impacts from the impact.
“The semi shifted our house off its foundation, which caused extensive damages throughout the house,” Demers said. “Considering the damages and the dangers of the location, we just couldn’t justify repairing the house again.”
City officials inspected the damage, according to Code Official Jessica Roudybush. They did not require that the house be torn down. That decision would rest with the owners.
The owners decided to demolish the house.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to tear down something we worked incredibly hard on for so long,” she said. “We did not make the decision lightly.”
Then they decided not to.
“We changed our minds on demo nearly every day for several months, even wondering if we could cancel our demo appointment,” Demers said.
There was public backlash. Strangers attacked the decision and demanded explanations on social media.
But, those who commented had not lived in the house. They did not know how often vehicles have driven into their home.
The house was demolished on Tuesday, Dec. 22.
Before the house was torn down, some of the interior was removed.
“We did have some people come and salvage the beautiful historic features of the house before demo – the gorgeous staircase, built-ins, mantels, glass tiles, leaded windows,” Demers said. “It made us very happy to see those pieces saved and to know someone new will appreciate their beauty.”