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Historic David City home

The historic Chauncey S. Taylor House, 715 N. Fourth St., pictured here in 2017, could soon be demolished by David City. The property's owners, Kathy and Roger Treat, have been given an additional six months by the Board of Zoning Adjustment to get the building into compliance or risk having it torn down. 

DAVID CITY — A historic home in David City could soon be on the missing list.

The Chauncey S. Taylor House, located at 715 N. Fourth St., has been listed as a nuisance by the city since 2009. In September, Building Inspector Raymond Sueper condemned the home.

For years, the house has been vacant and primarily used for storage. Sueper said though the building's structure is sound, the porches have been left to rot, plants are overgrown, paint is peeling and the home itself is very cluttered.

“It’s been a constant source of complaints to my office,” Sueper said. “It’s actually one of the worst cases of hoarding I’ve ever seen.”

The Board of Zoning Adjustment held a meeting on Nov. 28 to consider a request from homeowners Kathy and Roger Treat to be given six months to bring the house and property into compliance. The couple primarily lives in Colorado and have had problems with David City officials regarding the property for almost a decade.

Zoning Adjustment board member Kelly Danielson said the board agreed to give the owners several weeks to provide documentation that they have contracted someone to deal with the outside appearance. The board agreed to give the couple 30 days to clear out one-third of the items in the house and 60 days to have it completely emptied.

Danielson said he was skeptical of the owners' ability to meet the board’s demands.

“I think we’re doing everything we can to give them the opportunity to do the right thing, and I hope they do,” Danielson said. “But based off their history, I don't think they will.”

The property, also known as the Richard Zeilinger House, was built in 1888. It was constructed for Chauncey S. Taylor, a local jeweler. In 1903, he sold it to a local hardware store owner, John Zeilinger, according to Banner-Press archives. It was owned by the Zeilinger family until 1967 and was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The Treats bought the home from violin maker David Wiebe in May 2003 for $144,900, according to the county assessor's office. City Councilor Dana “Skip” Trowbridge, who is a member of the board, said he was skeptical that the property was worth even close to that now.

“It would probably take that much money to take it back into compliance to live in,” Trowbridge said.

Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Jill Dolberg said buildings are only taken off the national registry if they have either been demolished or so radically changed that they no longer resemble their historic appearance. She said no one has approached her office about removing the building from the list and added that the removal process is quite extensive.

In a letter to David City officials, Nebraska History indicated that if the building had fallen into poor conditions, the city could tear it down, regardless of it being on the registry.

This wouldn’t be the first time a Treat property was razed by a local government for negligence.

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The Treats purchased the old post office building in Octavia in May 2002, according to the county assessor's office. Octavia Mayor Rick Kopecky said over the years, however, the building has fallen into disrepair.

“It was a hell of a nice building,” Kopecky said. “(But) they never took care of it.”

He said the property’s windows fell out, it’s ceiling caved in, the front door got busted and trees had overgrown. Kopecky said the brush made it difficult to see a nearby stop sign and was a hazard for children since the building was located near a city park.

“It was just causing problems,” Kopecky said. "We just wanted to get rid of the eyesore.”

The village and the Treats went back and forth in court for years until they agreed to gift the property to the city in July 2017. The city then tore down the building and the land was merged with the nearby park.

For the Chauncey S. Taylor House, Sueper said the homeowners have to complete five specific items by the end of the six-month appeal. If they don’t complete all of them, the house will go into a 30-day countdown, at the end of which the city will advertise bids for its demolition.

“It’s a dangerous situation for the neighborhood. We had to take some drastic action to get their attention,” Sueper said. “Hopefully they take it seriously at this point, buckle down, and save the house.”

Homeowners Kathy Treat and Roger Treat could not be reached for comment.


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