Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nightmare on Seymour Ave

Ariel Castro's "House of Horrors" at 2207 Seymour Avenue on Cleveland's West Side.
(Photo: Jeffrey Goodman) 

The white clapboard house on Seymour Avenue made famous by monster Ariel Castro will be demolished tomorrow.

Cleveland's "House of Horrors" is just 25 minutes from where I live. And just like the steady stream of tourists who have been snapping photos since Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped exactly three months ago, I had to see it with my own eyes.     

Long before the windows were boarded up and the chain link fence got rolled out, 2207 Seymour Avenue looked like any other house you'd find in this run-down part of town. The neighborhood itself is rather unremarkable as there are so many on the West Side filled with abandoned apartments, vacant lots and condemned buildings.

An abandoned and boarded-up apartment building at 2112 Seymour Avenue.
At one time, I'm sure this was a wonderful place to call home.
(Photo: Jeffrey Goodman)

Immanuel Lutheran Church sits on the corner of Scranton Road
and Seymour Avenue-- just four doors down from Castro's house.
(Photo: Jeffrey Goodman)

Immanuel Lutheran Church is on one corner of the street. A warehouse selling canvas awnings at the other. Lincoln Middle School is two blocks away. A historic Twinkie factory sits abandoned three streets down, on Twinkie Lane.

Twinkie Lane, named after the iconic Hostess cake, is a five-minute
walk from 2207 Seymour Ave. (Photo: Jeffrey Goodman)

City buses roar past on West 25th. Hungry patrons stop by Mr. Hero's for a meatball sub on Clark Avenue. Online bookseller John T. Zubal faithfully tends to his 4 million rare and scholarly books at his 360,000-square foot warehouse-- just two blocks away from Castro's house.

"How could no one know?" wondered Mike Bigio, who drove 45 minutes from Lorain to check out the neighborhood with his wife. "I mean, all these people living here? And not one person heard anything?"

It's the question everyone around the world is asking. And for the residents on this street, it's the question that haunts them. 

Aurora Marti lives right across the street from Castro's house (which is blocked
by the tree). She, like almost all of her neighbors, never suspected a thing.
(Photo: Jeffrey Goodman) 

Perhaps most for 75-year-old Aurora Marti, who considered Ariel Castro "a good friend and good neighbor" until May 6. But now her heart feels sick as she thinks about the three young women who must now put their lives together after this horrific ordeal.

She can't wait until tomorrow, when the wrecking ball comes and smashes Castro's house to pieces. She's relieved. Ready to move on. And at the same time seems a bit amused by the celebrity status of her neighborhood-- though she acknowledges the notoriety is misplaced.

"Tomorrow the house will be gone," said Marti, who has lived on Seymour Avenue for 47 years. "And we can all get on with our lives."   

Officials say the two houses next door to Castro's (left) will also be demolished.
(Photo: Jeffrey Goodman)