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Fort Wayne historic home nears wrecking ball again

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – People in Fort Wayne all know the name Fairfield.

The original Capt. Asa Fairfield built his home in the 1850s on what is now West Creighton Avenue. Then, it was bought by a family famous in the circus world: the Nestels. The Fairfield Nestel house is now set for demolition.

Centuries after it was built it now belongs to a local real estate broker whose dream is to save it.

“When I’m in the house I could see myself living there,” Joe Leksich said. “The tall ceilings, spacious rooms.”

“If the house could’ve been saved, it would’ve been with Joe Leksich,” said Cindy Joyner, Fort Wayne deputy director of neighborhood code enforcement.

Ten years ago, Fort Wayne Realtor Joe Leksich saw the historic Fairfield Nestel home go up for sale. Even then, the home had already been scheduled for demolition several times before.

“We’ve had a case on this off and on for several years going back into the early ’90s,” Joyner said.

“The house was gutted to the studs, but I could just see every single detail of how the house could be stunning again,” Leksich said.

It wasn’t until January 2016 that the Leksich finally bought the house from the previous owner. A month before that, it was approved for demolition, but with the ownership change, that was put on hold. A year of court proceedings started with Leksich and the city, with Leksich presenting his plan to rehabilitate the house.

“Unfortunately my plan was a little ambitious with what I had going on in my life,” Leksich said. “So we didn’t get a lot done like we would’ve liked to, but we still made a lot of progress.”

So, the demolition was given the go-ahead again to Leksich’s frustration. The Historic Preservation Commission has approved the demolition. ARCH, a historic preservation advocacy group, has agreed demolition is the right move.

“Unfortunately a lot of people try and a lot of people put a lot of money into it, but it’s just one of those projects that can’t quite seem to get over that hump,” ARCH Executive Director Jill McDevitt said.

For the city, it all comes down to time.

“Those benchmarks that [Leksich] set were not met, and at some point you have to call it,” Joyner said.

The demolition is scheduled to start in the next 30 days. Leksich said even if it took him years, he’s dedicated to fixing the home, but feels out of options to stop the demolition.

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