The House that Built Me – Pt. 1
By Chris Coulter, Rescue Rebuild Program Manager
If you follow country music, I’m sure you know Miranda Lambert. She is one of the top female country artists with hits such as Kerosene, Gunpowder and Lead, Mama’s Broken Heart and The House that Built Me. What you may not know about her is that she is as passionate about animals as she is about her music.
In 2009, Miranda and her mother, Bev Lambert, started MuttNation Foundation to help as many animals as possible get placed into loving and caring homes. What better place to start than her hometown of Lindale, Texas. Lindale is a rural town of about 5,000 people situated just northwest of Tyler, Texas. Unfortunately, Lindale does not have an animal shelter. They have what is called a holding facility. These facilities aren’t open to the public which makes getting these lovable animals adopted extremely tough.
Their idea was to get an adoption center started that would allow animal rescues from all over the area to hold adoption events. What better way to bring pet-friendly people to the center than to put a dog park right behind it! And this is where MuttNation and Rescue Rebuild enters this equation.
The City of Lindale, along with MuttNation and Rescue Rebuild, joined forces to build an adoption center and dog park for the community. The City of Lindale donated land and a house built in the early 1900s for the adoption center. This is where our story begins:
We have been working for months to get plans set, and blueprints were drawn to conform this old, turn of the century home into this beautiful, gypsy-inspired adoption center that the Lambert’s envisioned. I had seen pictures of the house taken during the scouting trip conducted several months prior, but even the pictures couldn’t show just how much work it was going to take. On the outside, someone had previously demolished an entire back addition due to it being structurally unsafe, large patches of exterior siding and windows were missing, just to name a few. On the inside, water damage needed repair, broken top plates (structural beams inside the walls) had to be repaired, literal holes in the floor that allowed you to see straight to the ground outside. So much work to accomplish in only three weeks. But before any of this could even begin, the house had to be completely moved about 200 yards to its final resting place.
After moving the house, it was time for Rescue Rebuild to get to work. To be honest, once I saw the condition of the house I had doubts that we would be able to transform this dilapidated structure into a fully functional adoption center in the allotted time. I’m always extremely optimistic, but this was pushing its limits. However, I had complete faith in our team and knew all the long hours and energy we were about to expend would find us with a beautiful and functional adoption center and dog park.
Days were spent tearing out the inside of this house. By the time we were done removing the existing floors, kitchen cabinets, back patio and walls, we had filled numerous dumpsters worth of debris. While we had one team working on the inside of the house, Zach and I were handling all the fence posts for the soon to be dog park! Hundreds of posts were needed to be laid out and set in concrete before we could call this task completed. Which also meant the digging of hundreds of holes.
We were pretty excited as we were able to borrow a tractor with an auger attachment that would make this step a breeze. However, we then met the East Texas clay. The auger was able to dig about 5 inches of the needed 24 inches of the hole. Thank goodness for great volunteers who joined us eager to help! Together, with posthole diggers and dig bars in hand, we were able to knock out these holes after several days of hard, hard work.
Now that the inside of the adoption center was cleaned out it was time to put it all back together. This time we were adding walls, drywall, paint and faux finishes, windows, doors and putting our decorative touches to what was once a rundown house on the verge of being torn down by the city. Volunteers and contractors from all over the area heard our call for help and showed up in droves. We had plumbers installing all new water hookups throughout the house and running all new water line and installing new faucets inside and outside of the house. There were electricians running all new wire throughout the house installing outlets, light switches, new chandeliers and light fixtures.
General contractors were replacing exterior siding, fixing leaks in the roof and installing new flooring. To say this was an “all hands on deck” build is an understatement. We had so much going on at once it was amazing to see everyone carrying out their specific task and then seeing the progress at the end of the day. Slowly but steadily, all the chain link was put up for the dog park. All new paint, new floors, a new front and back deck with handicap accessible ramp, new furniture and accessories throughout and the house was finally starting to take shape.
After weeks of hard work and dedication, it was finally time for the finishing touches. All new paint for the outside of the house and front deck, new sod and a paver walkway with names of donors and their pets donned the walkway between the parking lot and front door welcoming everyone to the center. This new adoption center is a prime example of what hard work and perseverance can accomplish. Volunteers who don’t necessarily have any construction skills were able to transform nothing more than a shell of a house into an adoption center that will save the lives of so many adoptable animals. This center will not only change the lives of so many animals but also touch the heart of many in the community.
Check back next week for Part Two of The House that Built Me