When residents of the Austin community walk around the 500 block of north Central Ave., they’re greeted with two-story tall houses and various apartment complexes. On the corner of the block stands a house that is painted front to back in pink and white. The house, with its chipped paint, failing columns, and ripped black carpet on the front porch is covered in pink and white including the fence and garage.
Austin resident Sandra Owens, 54, recalls the first time when she saw the house and thought there had to be a catch to the color scheme.
“When I looked at this house I think that’s a man who really loves his wife in order to live in a whole pink house,” said Owens
She and her sister, Mel Owens, rarely got a glimpse of the people who lived in the house and said they would like to see the inside but don’t want to impose for a tour.
“I’ve seen the man who lives there once. It looks nice, but I don’t want to go and do a cold knock on the door. If I see them I may say hi,” said Mel.
Just like the sisters, residents are more familiar with the house than the people. The curiosity of the 2,574 square foot home still lives within the community as to why the owners painted the house that color.
Some residents tried to convince them to change the color. Neighbor Paul Harris, 49, who lived next to them for 17 years said the reason it stayed the same was because of the owner’s wife.
“That was his wife’s favorite colors, pink and white, always pink and white. You couldn’t get him to change the color. I’ve tried,” said Harris.
He also mentions that the house is a sight to see on the inside and to not be fooled by the looks on the outside.
“When I first saw the house it looked like an Easter basket, but the house on the inside is gorgeous. It still has some of the classic work on the inside. When I say it’s gorgeous, it’s gorgeous.”
The old Victorian house was built in 1894. The house was intended to be a bed and breakfast before it was purchased in 1986 by the family. During that time the house was boarded up and its original colors were green and white before it was remodeled. The house had two fires since it was built with the first in 1992 and another in 2005.
To this day the house still contains classic features including a secret room in the dome, laundry shoot and a service room where there is a bedroom outside the kitchen. In the front hall, the beam in the entry way has a collage of pictures of family members.
With the house having such history it wasn’t featured in any local newspapers or other mediums. It was, however, featured on the westcooknews.com website as one of the 722 Austin properties that were to be auctioned because of property tax. But the amount owed according to the site was only $139.77 and was later resolved by the family.
Owners Rev. Isiah Anderson, 84, his wife Wilhelmina Anderson, 85, and his daughter Yolanda Anderson, 45, later moved into the house in 1989. Yolanda says that people assumed that no one lived there because they were a quiet family who didn’t do the usual outdoor activities.
“We weren’t outside as much, but those who lived in the neighborhood knew my father. He was always outside doing busy work, building something, or just talking or counseling people,” she said.
Harris said the neighbors knew him by the nickname, Rev. and he was friendly with everyone he interacted with.
“He was a nice man too. I would interact with him every time I would see him. He was a community organizer, moral, and a hey how’re you doing type of guy every day when I see him. He was also a contractor. He would let me borrow his ladder and would show me how to fix things around his house.”
On the Saturday before Easter, his wife and daughter were bringing Anderson back from the hospital. They were planning to have family over for the holiday so everyone can spend time with him. Unfortunately, that would become the last the family celebration with him.
Rev. Anderson died at the age of 84 Easter Sunday. Harris says that an ambulance would regularly visit the house.
“That was a regular thing. He was an elderly man so they would be there to check on his health,” Harris said with a shocked look after hearing about Anderson’s passing.
Rumors Surrounding the House
The house recently surfaced on social media in a recent Facebook post where there were a lot of speculation as to if anyone still lived there. Yolanda heard the rumors and thought they were pretty funny.
“I remember hearing about those rumors. There was this assumption that his wife passed away or no one lived there. But that was probably because we would usually come from the back because it’s closest to the car, but the neighbors knew us and everything like that,” she said.
Other rumors include the house being haunted and that the door was left open and anyone can walk in. The rumors also made Sandra laugh as her interpretation of the place were different.
“I’ve never heard any of those rumors, but this place seems more like a happy place than a sad place. I mean I wouldn’t like it to stay pink,” said Owens.
What Does The House Mean To The Community?
Residents of the community look at the house as a symbol of history in the neighborhood. Aaron Doyle, 28, also wondered what it looked like on the inside. He agrees, however, the house is a landmark on the city’s West Side.
“What makes it a landmark to everybody is that it’s been there forever and everyone knows the house when they see it. No one talked about the people only the color of the house,” said Doyle.
Others think that the history of the house adds value to the area. Roy Ward, 63, admits he doesn’t know much about the house’s history but thinks it can use a little remodeling as he points out the flaws including a failing beam and leaning upper deck.
“A house like that has a significant value and I would like to see it stay around. It can just be rehabbed because it doesn’t look like any work as been done on it in a while,” said Ward.
The common point made by the residents and neighbors was their dislike of the color, but it’s been around for so many years they’ve learned to accept it.
Since the passing of Rev. Isiah Anderson, his wife and daughter are currently debating the future of the house as they see it as a big responsibility.
“It’s a lot of work. You have to get the repairs to keep it up to date. But we’ve been here for over 20 years so that’s the thing we’re currently talking about, me and my mother,” said Yolanda.
She promises to keep us posted on what’s next for the house. The family has set up a GoFundMe page for those who want to donate and show their respects to Rev. Anderson. If you want to donate, the link is provided below.