Palm Beach Mansion Demolished

By Al Pefley email

Palm Beach, FL (WFLX)

A Palm Beach mansion that was gutted in a deadly fire last year is now gone.   The home that had stood in Palm Beach for about 80 years is now nothing but a pile of debris.   A demolition crew with an excavator got started a little after 9 this morning, knocking down the house at 416 Brazilian Avenue.

The town of Palm Beach had condemned the place recently, and they had been fining the owner $250 dollars a day for not renovating or rebuilding the house in a timely fashion.

Today, the charred home which was nothing but four walls and an empty shell, finally came down.  It was built in the 1920's.

The town felt it was a danger in the event of a hurricane, because a hurricane would tear it apart and send debris flying all over the neighborhood. So the house had to go.

"It's sad but Palm Beach is changing little by little. Each year it seems. Old buildings that we're so familiar with are torn down and then they put these little McMansions," said Jane Van Pelt, a neighbor.

At one point, workers had to stop what they were doing because of a swarm of bees that had been stirred up. They were apparently living in the house, and one of the demolition workers was stung three  times.

In May 2008, the house and millions of dollars of artwork inside, were destroyed by fire. The homeowner,  retired art gallery owner Jimmy Barker,  said the place was not insured. His roommate died in the blaze.  Investigators determined the fire was caused by an electrical short in some wiring in a wall outlet.

Barker,  who's out of town, says he has just sold the property for $1.5 million to a Palm Beach couple.