An elderly woman is leading a campaign to save her home, and more than 45 others in her neighborhood, from being taken by the city of St. Louis through eminent domain.
Charlesetta Taylor, 79, has lived in her three-storied red-brick home for seven decades — ever since her dad bought it in 1945.
However, in January the St. Louis Economic Development Corp. offered Taylor’s neighborhood, including her home, to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) as a possible site for a new campus.
1. Charlesetta Taylor, 79, is leading a campaign to save her home, and more than 45 others in her neighborhood, from being taken by the city of St. Louis through eminent domain.
The NGA is also considering three other sites which wouldn’t involve bulldozing people’s homes and relocating families, but the city offered Taylor’s neighborhood in hopes of convincing the NGA to stay in the city and keep the 3,000 jobs it provides there.
The NGA makes maps and satellite imagery to the U.S. military and intelligence communities. A St. Louis development spokeswoman told ABC News:
Eminent domain is, indeed, a possibility, but it’s a last resort. If people do need to be relocated, we will have real estate people that will meet with the residents and negotiate a solution.
2. Charlesetta Taylor in front of her three-story red brick home in St. Louis, MO.
However, Taylor doesn’t want to negotiate and more than 91,000 people have signed her Change.org petition to save her “longtime family home”.
The 79-year-old said that she wants to save her neighborhood and keep her home she calls “The Big House”, in which generations of her family have grown up, including her eight siblings. She said:
We were the first African-American family I know on this block and several other blocks around us. It was 1945, and there was a restrictive covenant restricting where African-Americans could live.
But, nonetheless, my father was successful in buying this house for our large family.
3. The 79-year-old said that she wants to save her neighborhood and keep her home she calls “The Big House”, in which generations of her family have grown up.
Taylor is now trying to get her home on St. Louis’ historic registry.
“The Big House” has five bedrooms, two full bathrooms, two “lovely” fireplaces, a dining room with a “gorgeous hand-laid hardwood floor”, two staircases and plenty of unforgettable memories, Taylor added. She said:
We celebrated everything in here, and there was always something going on. During Christmas, dozens of kids would be here: all my siblings, cousins and, later on, their children and children’s children.
Taylor explained that her home has hosted many of her family’s reunions, including last year their 50th, which they called “The Fish Fry”, in memory of an old tradition her mother used to keep of eating fish on Fridays.
4. Charlesetta Taylor, in the upper right corner, pictured here at age 9 with her siblings just before they moved into “The Big House”.
Taylor is currently the only one living in the large house, but she said it’s kind of a “hotel”, where relatives look forward to staying when they’re in town. She said:
Not only do I want to maintain it, but many, many of us do. Even today’s generation loves it here. We give them a tour of the house and tell them old stories such as how my sister was a seamstress and even kept a shop up in here at one point.
Many of Taylor’s neighbors are also elderly and their houses have a lot of history which they would like to keep as well.
For its part, the NGA said it is aware of Taylor’s petition and it “does not expect to make a final site selection until March 2016”.
5. Taylor hopes the NGA will drop her neighborhood from site consideration.
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