Owner’s death may also mean end for Prescott house in Manassas, officials say


A historic home on Prescott Avenue, in Old Town, Manassas, Va. on Oct. 17, 2011. (Jeremy Borden/The Washington Post)
February 12, 2013

A century-old Manassas home could be near imminent destruction, despite a mystery man stepping in to help rehab it.

The owner of the home, Dorothy Feaganes, was in her 80s and passed away recently, city officials said at a City Council meeting on Monday. Her death has thrown the fate of her house — which the mystery donor had begun to restore so she could live her remaining years there — into disarray. And officials are again preparing to demolish the now-blighted home, at 9300 Prescott Ave., which has been ignored for years, and officials say is in such bad shape it poses a safety hazard.

The mystery benefactor had been a longtime friend of Feaganes’s late husband from Virginia, said Manassas lawyer Timothy M. Purnell, who represented Feaganes at the benefactor’s request until her death. He had read about the home’s plight in a newspaper story, Purnell has said, and had agreed to rehab the home and allow Feaganes to live out her remaining years there.

But with Feaganes’s death, her two children don’t seem to want to take on the project, Purnell said. The home is “underwater,” or more is owed on the property than it’s worth, and Feaganes had declared bankruptcy, city officials have said.

Purnell said that while he no longer officially represents the Feaganeses and doesn’t speak on their behalf, he got the impression that they weren’t going to move forward with the project.

“I think ultimately the decision was made that this house was underwater and rather than try to restore it was just time to walk away,” Purnell said.

Feaganes’s children could not be reached for comment.

A bank or mortgage servicer could still foreclose on the home and choose to rehab and resell it themselves. City officials said Monday that they would seek an official word from Feaganes’s two children on their intentions with the home, and a copy of the letter will also be sent to the home’s mortgage servicer.

But he said that officials believe the house’s time may have come. “I expect we won’t see any more progress,” City Attorney Martin Crim said.

The City Council decided in December to move forward with demolition of the home unless improvements were made. City Manager John Budesky has the authority to demolish the home at any time.

Budesky said in an interview that unless work proceeds in the next month, he would order the house’s demolition.

Purnell said that the benefactor had already allocated about $20,000 to the house, removing parts of the sagging porch and creating required architectural drawings for the historic home that needed to be done as part of the rehab effort.

He said Feaganes, who was seen with an oxygen tank last year at City Council meetings, had been ecstatic about the turn of events.

“She was so excited her house was moving towards redemption,” Purnell said. “In a sad way, you can say she died happy.”

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