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City’s Demolition Of Oswald Apartment Building Is Underway

Emily Trube KRLD Emily Trube
  Emily Trube started a career in broadcast journalism in 2003, after...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The city of Dallas has begun the demolition of an apartment building in the Bishop Arts District that Lee Harvey Oswald used to call home. A crew is removing drywall and the roof this week. Bulldozers are expected to tear the 1920’s era building down on January 14th.

Oswald and his wife Marina moved into a ground floor apartment at 600 Elsbeth Avenue in November 1962 and lived there for a little over a year. Oswald would move two more times before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.

The building has no historical designation and had been largely forgotten until last year’s publication of Stephen King’s novel “11/22/63”, in which he writes about 600 Elsbeth. It is also referenced in the Warren Commission’s report.

BERLIN, GERMANY:  A local resident walks past police photos of US President John F. Kennedy's presumed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, displayed at Berlin's "Lee Harvey Oswald" bar 24 November 2003. Oswald was in his turn shot two days after Kennedy, on 24th November 2003. AFP PHOTO JOHN MACDOUGALL  (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

(Credit: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

There has been a battle over 600 Elsbeth Ave between owner Jane Anne Bryant and the city of Dallas for almost five years. In 2008, the city filed suit against the property because it was determined to be, “dilapidated, substandard, and constituted an urban nuisance.” In a statement sent to KRLD, City Attorney Andrew Gilbert writes that the building, “….was so dilapidated that it could not have been repaired without substantial reconstruction, because of significant foundation problems, fire damage, and other issues.”

KRLD requested interviews with both Gilbert and City Communications Director Frank Librio for this story. Both declined and opted to provide written statements and documents instead. When asked for an interview, District 1 City Council Member Delia Jasso referred us to Gilbert.

Bryant tells KRLD that she fully intended to renovate the property when she bought it in 2007, but says that she encountered roadblocks within city government. She claims that she was treated unfairly and given the “run-around” on issues such as zoning, historical designation, grant funds and obtaining permits.

“I wouldn’t sell to a developer,” says Bryant. “Once a developer who wanted it for his project was interested, suddenly the property had to come down immediately.”

In 2011, a municipal judge ordered a demolition, which Bryant tried to stop by filing suit in State District Court, a case Gilbert says Bryant later abandoned. In May 2012, Bryant offered to demolish the building herself. The city accepted this offer and put a deadline of November 30, 2012.

The following slide show images and corresponding interviews were recorded a week after the city’s deadline had passed.

As part of Bryant’s demolition process, she launched a Facebook Page and started selling off some of the structural elements from inside Oswald’s apartment on EBay, including the toilet. Visitors have been able to buy one of the bricks, manufactured in Athens, Texas, for $10.

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