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Artist Raising Money To Help With "Gentle Demolition" Of "House Of Gold"

WILKINSBURG (KDKA) -- At a busy corner in Wilkinsburg stands the "House of Gold."

Owner Dee Briggs says the house, built in 1875, was covered with plywood when she first moved into the fire station next door to set up the studio where she specializes in large sculptures.

She bought the house to demolish it, when the artist in her took over.

"My first reaction was 'Ugh, this house is going to fall down into my yard,'" she says. "But then, once I owned it and went inside for the first time, I realized that it was really a spectacular house."

The sculptor and her colleagues began a "gentle demolition," hoping to save the craftsmanship behind the dust and plaster. They even saved the transom above the front door.

As for the exterior, she says, "I wanted to remind people to see the value of things before they're gone. So this idea of value was kicking around in my head. And I thought, why don't we paint it metallic gold?"

Though a fresh coat of paint couldn't hide the fact that the house is unlivable, she couldn't face the prospect of smashing it to bits, and seeing it "put it in a landfill. What would the price difference be to do it gently and what's the possible re-use of all that material?"

So she started a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $30,000 by late September to finish the work. In the meantime, she says, the gentle demolition is "hands on" all the way.

"This building was made by hand. All of the molding was made by hand. Those brackets you see at the top, those were made by hand. And I think it's just the right thing to do for this building," she said.

She plans to build a coffee shop on the corner where the house now stands. Apparently, Briggs has found a "silver lining" in the House of Gold.

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