Rebuilding the Phoenix House

rebuilding the phoenix house

This post is a continuation in a series about our work in the North Central Troy. See the first post here.

Once we were convinced it was feasible to do so, we contracted a stone mason to reconstruct the façade brick-by-brick. Fred Darguste, our director of construction, said the mason labeled each brick and stored them on a pallet for several months while the rest of the house was being built. He had labelled each stone so he could put it back exactly where it had been before the fire.

“I’m excited for [the homeowner] Jahsiah, for getting to be part of this historic rebuild,” Fred said.

With a little help from our friends
Over the course of just nine months, an energetic corps of volunteers and YouthBuild students from the Commission for Economic Opportunity worked alongside Jahsiah and construction staff to build two spacious units and a fenced-in back yard for the boys.

This class of YouthBuild students constructed the fence for the back yard, put in insulation, and assisted in other built site tasks. YouthBuild teaches employment skills to young adults and is affiliated with AmeriCorps.

One YouthBuild student told News10, “It puts a smile on my face that Habitat does this for low-income families because I come from a low-income family. So, this just makes me happy.”

Many volunteers assisted construction staff through construction, including a group of regular volunteers, self-named as the “Grey Hairs”. Our Grey Hairs dedicate many hundreds of hours a year to donating the time, skills and energy building alongside staff, volunteers and future Troy homeowners.

(You can see a picture of the Grey Hairs here.)

More than a house
At Habitat, we are committed not only to building homes, but to building community. We build community through collaborating with organizations and engaging volunteers and donors, as well as through our neighborhood revitalization model.

We see not only a neighborhood’s need for affordable housing—but the strengths, assets and potential within them. The phoenix house’s facade was an asset to North Central Troy. In a way, it symbolized the resilience of this little neighborhood (see our first post in this series for some history).

And now, after a devastating fire and sitting vacant for over two decades, the entire property is once again an asset, as it is returned to productive use and the taxable property base—all the while providing an affordable place for two families to call home.

About our partners
Troy Architectural Project (TAP), a nonprofit community design center, was the architect of the project and developed the layout. The property was purchased in co-development with the Troy Community Land Bank. The City of Troy also provided funds and support. The Chazen Companies and The Molivia Group provided architectural guidance. The amazing stone mason on this project was Derek J Mauriello, LLC.

Read coverage of the Phoenix House here: News10 Channel13 WNYT Troy Record