After the fire, community steps up

'I said my goodbyes to the Pink House before, but now it's coming down for real'

Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday will mark the three-month anniversary of the arson that devastated the Pink House - the Basin Road home of Ryan Stanley, his wife, Laura Hosey, and their 3-year-old daughter, Meadow Stanley. Tuesday, the remnants finally came down.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

"I said my goodbyes to the Pink House before, but now it's coming down for real," Stanley said of the 100-year-old home.

In his blog, basinroad.com, Stanley describes the demolition as bittersweet:

"We will be saying a final heart-wrenching goodbye to the home we lovingly tended for several years and started raising our family in. ... As Meadow says, 'poor, sad pink house.'"

Hosey, who stood in the rain all day Tuesday watching the demolition team take down her house, feels "tremendously lucky to live in a community like this, where everyone supports each other."

"We're so grateful and humbled," she said of all those who have donated money, time and services to help them. "The support, it just goes on and on."

Stanley described the three month process like a complicated, epic book.

"You don't know what's on the next page, and the next page isn't even written until you're finished dealing with the page you're on," he said. "So we're just going one page at a time."

Page 1: Insurance

Stanley and Hosey paid $180,000 for their quaint pink house four years ago and had just finished putting about $68,000 of renovations into it: a new roof, new flooring, complete interior and exterior painting, new furnace and new kitchen.

"We put a ton of equity into the thing," Stanley said. "Our plan was to finish all the refurb, all the renovations, and then refinance and reinsure."

At the time of the fire, Stanley and his family were in their fifth year of the five-year refurbishment loan. On the very day, Stanley said he was finishing sanding trim and putting it up.

"It's pretty demoralizing," he said. "Essentially the fire just erased those last four years of equity."

Their contractor told them the home would cost about $200 a square foot, or $400,000, to rebuild from scratch. Stanley had the house insured at $170,000.

"That's about half the amount it would cost to build the house again from scratch," Stanley said. "But they didn't really tell us, 'You need to go and make sure you know how much it's going to cost to rebuild from scratch,' so we just kind of signed on and didn't pay much attention to it."

If he could do it again, Stanley said he'd get total replacement insurance.

"It costs more, but it doesn't have a limit; they just replace your house, period," Stanley said. "The most important thing is to find out how much it would cost to rebuild your house from scratch and adjust the insurance for that amount."

Community effort

Stanley, a technology director for SERRC, and Hosey, advising coordinator for the University of Alaska Southeast School of Arts and Sciences, said both had support from their workplaces. And Hosey was born and raised in Juneau, so it wasn't difficult to find local help.

"It turns out that one of the people who baby-sat my wife when she was a little girl is an appraiser in town," Stanley said of Orlinda Kittredge, of Capital Realty. "So Laura calls her up, and she went out the next day, and we had an appraisal in three days."

Other major contributors include Red Cross volunteers, who stayed with the family in the hours after the fire, and contractor Jerry Godkin, who is working on the demolition. Foggy Mountain Shop let the family pick and choose off their sale rack the week after the fire, and engineer Art Morris donated the foundation inspection.

Also, with the help of family friend Sara Chambers and United Way of Southeast Alaska President Brenda Hewitt, 30 volunteers with Crusaders for Christ came to help clear out the contents of the house.

"A group of these 30 dudes who are on kind of a mission in Alaska fixing stuff up came out to the house," Stanley said. "Because there is a separate pot of (insurance) money for the contents and the dwelling, it helped us out to evacuate the contents of the house."

Kirby Day, of Tourism Best Management Practices, contributed $200 worth of Subway sandwiches to feed the volunteer crew, and Bruce Abel, of Don Abel Building Supply, helped acquire gloves for the workers.

Tom Carson, of Carson Dorn Inc., the firm that performed the asbestos test on the house, only charged Stanley half of what he originally quoted. And Eric Vance, district manager of Waste Management, was able to waive Stanley's landfill fees - approximately $10,000 worth - as a donation to United Way.

The Alaska USA Pink House Donation Fund is also taking contributions. Tasty Tweets, a group of Twitter users in Anchorage, are even holding a bake sale benefit for the Pink House this Saturday.

"The general community response has just been really touching," Stanley said. "I'm just blown away and touched by the generosity of everyone, how everyone cares about us. That just means the world to me. ... Any doubt I had about humanity is completely washed away."

As for the future of the Pink House, Hosey is committed to rebuilding it in its early-1900s style.

"It's really part of the landscape on Basin Road," Hosey said. "I want to restore it to its old self so it's in keeping with the spirit of that area and the neighborhood - a mining-era neighborhood, homes with humble beginnings."

Stanley and his family are currently renting a house on Gold Street. They hope to start rebuilding by next spring. For more updates, visit Stanley's blog at basinroad.com.

The arson remains unsolved.

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at 523-2272 or kim.andree@juneauempire.com.



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