Couches and chairs that smelled as if they'd been soaked in urine, slanted and broken dressers, and desks thickly coated with dust and animal feces — all that and more was pulled from a historic Lexington home on Tuesday.
From mid-morning into the night, reeking refuse lined the sidewalk for nearly a block in front of a regal brick home at 515 North Broadway.
The stench from the house and its contents was significant, but it didn't keep people from looking for treasures even before movers were finished hauling the items to the street.
"We have a kind of a hoarder situation," said Lexington-Fayette County Constable Larry Hamlin, whose deputies served an eviction notice at the property Tuesday.
The owner, Laurie Giovanetti, moved out before the first of the year, said her ex-husband and neighbor, Anton Giovanetti. Court records indicate the foreclosure process on the house valued at $195,000 began in February 2012. The property had been sold at a master commissioner's sale in October 2012 to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Laurie Giovanetti did not appear to oppose the eviction or respond to the notice in court documents. Anton Giovanetti told the Herald-Leader on Tuesday that he did not keep in touch with his ex-wife and didn't know how to reach her.
Hamlin said the law requires that anything that could be considered valuable be placed on the sidewalk for 48 hours to allow the evicted homeowner to reclaim it. The mortgage company hired workers to empty the two-story house built in 1889, and they were finishing up shortly after noon.
Paul Shaw, who was overseeing the job, said it's among the worst houses he's seen.
The sheer volume of stuff and the fact that many animals appeared to have had free rein inside created more than a temporary nuisance for the community, said Anton Giovanetti, who runs the Lyndon House Bed & Breakfast at 507 North Broadway. He said that his ex-wife had three dogs and a number of cats and the interior of the house "smelled like the inside of a lion's den."
Hamlin said feces and litter boxes inside the house indicated "multiple, multiple cats". Hamlin estimated that even with all that was set out, enough trash and clothing remained inside the house to fill up three or four Dumpsters.
Anton Giovanetti said he was concerned that the pile would be strewn across the neighborhood as people picked through the trash. He was also concerned about traffic as people stopped to examine the items.
Hamlin notified the city sanitation department and Lexington police of the potential hazards caused by the house. By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the city issued a 24-hour emergency notice to have the sidewalk cleared, said Code Enforcement Director David Jarvis. Jarvis said Tuesday night that he'd spoken to a representative of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation who agreed to remove the debris on Wednesday. If the trash is not removed by 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jarvis said, the city will complete the cleanup and bill the mortgage company. Jarvis said there had been no previous complaints to the city about the condition of the house.
Bettie Kerr, director of the city's historic preservation office, said the house, which borders the Fayette Park neighborhood, is a fine example of the Queen Anne style of architecture; when it was last inspected, it maintained many of the original characteristics of the original 1889 construction, Kerr said.
According to documents from the historic preservation office, the house was referenced in an 1897 article titled "Fine Homes" that appeared in the Lexington Morning Herald. Modern passersby might recognize it by its porch posts, which are painted in rainbow colors.