Abandoned Shelter of the Week

The Abandoned Structure Squad (known as ASS to fans and critics alike) often zeros in on neighborhood blights unworthy of anything but a wrecking ball. This week’s featured home is a mirror opposite to that scenario.

Saneetha Satterwhite has looked forward to moving into 4242 Trumbull since she bought the stately Victorian home three-and-a-half years ago. “People dream they want to be on the lake or ocean. I want to be on Trumbull,” she says.

Trouble is, the City of Detroit has done everything short of bulldozing the property to get Satterwhite to abandon her dream home. The house, located in the historic district of Woodbridge Farm near Wayne State University, typifies the Folk Victorian architectural style popularized between 1870-1910, when the country’s industrial boom made gingerbread woodwork and flat, jigsaw-cut trim affordable to working stiffs. Completed in 1880, owners kept the house in tidy condition until 1997, when the last owner’s death caused most of the delicate features to go to waste — marble-tiled mantles were stolen and stained-glass windows shattered by the neighborhood kids.

Undeterred by the (literal) roughhousing, Satterwhite purchased the home with the firm intention of restoring it. “This is my retirement house,” the middle-aged computer technician says.

But the City of Detroit seems to think otherwise.

The structure’s first demolition notice came in June 2000, just six months after Satterwhite acquired the property. She’s been attempting to address the city’s concerns, but because of probate problems, she is still trying to acquire clear title, the lack of which has made it all but impossible to obtain home-improvement loans.

Meanwhile, the city continues posting the home on its demolition list. “The latest love note I got was from the Historic Commission,” Satterwhite says, stating that the committee cites “neglect” as the reason for demolition.

On her Web site,, Satterwhite points to two other vacant houses in her neighborhood that are in much worse disrepair; one even suffers a collapsed roof, but neither has been targeted for demolition.

Editor’s note: If you know of an abandoned home you would like to see featured in this spot, send a photo and pertinent information to News Hits, c/o Metro Times, 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226 (or e-mail

Check out all of our Abandoned Shelters of the Week

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