Martha Lussenhop’s garden has turned brown and crispy. For more than 30 years, she worked to plant flowers and nurture trees in the lot that was adjacent to her home on the 900 block of Wesley Avenue. After Lussenhop and her husband sold the house before retiring to Oregon, they told friends they were glad to know that a young family would be moving in who could enjoy the home where they raised their two daughters and who would continue to care for the garden. She hoped to write them about all the intricacies of the history of the house, and left them a vase which was given to them when they first moved in by the widow of a man who grew up there.
But expectations didn’t match reality, and the unexpected occurred. A new family never moved into the house and the garden, with no one to care for it, naturally began to disintegrate. Neighbors began to wonder where the new family was.
Soon, a rumor circulated that the new neighbors had no plans to move in at all. Rather, they planned to sell the house and the adjoining lot for development, which meant Martha’s garden would not be kept intact.
When Martha Lussenhop learned that a new family had not moved in to take care of her home, as she had expected, she was crushed.
“The news was devastating,” she said. “I was physically sick the whole evening.”
Lussenhop said that many people have enjoyed her family’s garden throughout the years.
“Outside the immediate neighborhood, there are other groups who have put high value, but not of the monetary sort, on our garden space,” she said.
Lussenhop said she never met the buyers of the house, Daniel and Betsy Spillane, because they did not attend the closing on June 17. At the closing, Lussenhop said, the Realtor, Gretchen Spillane, Daniel’s sister-in-law, told Lussenhop that the family would “take good care of things.”
In the recently published reassessment notice, Joseph Spillane is listed as owner of the Lussenhops’ old home.
Will Spillane, of Spillane Realty, had no comment on the situation.
Concerned neighbors are holding a meeting at 7:30 tonight in front of the house at 937 Wesley and are inviting anyone who is concerned about what will become of the house and the adjoining lot to attend. They hope to gather information and discuss plans of action they can take to keep the garden lot from being developed.
“What we’ve got right now is a lot of rumors,” said Ross Thomas, one of the meeting’s organizers and a resident of the neighborhood. “We’re trying to figure out what the truth is.”
Thomas said he and other neighbors are trying to bring together many of the Lussenhops’ friends and neighbors, and he hopes they can ideally stop any new development on the lot altogether.
Kate Linne, another organizer and resident, noted that it’s rare to find big grass lots with most houses, but hopes that if a new building is built, it is at least in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.
“We just want to try to find out from the village what can be built on this spot, and we’d like to make sure that the owner and the builder understand our concerns.”