For 25 years, the phrase “House of Horrors” in Philadelphia brought to mind the stucco home in Hunting Park where Gary Heidnik imprisoned, tortured and killed women in unspeakably gruesome ways. For some years, the home was a macabre tourist attraction as it fell into disrepair, but eventually it went on the market and was purchased by, we are sure, a comparatively normal person who’d like to be left alone.
That person must be pretty relieved to see “House of Horrors” headlines that have nothing to do with Heidnik or Hunting Park. The current House of Horrors is at 3801 Lancaster, Kermit Gosnell’s former “clinic.” The “house of horrors” descriptor for 3801 was first used by DA Seth Williams in a grand jury report, but now that Gosnell is on trial, it’s getting a lot of play.
But what is going on with that “house”? Gosnell used a loan to buy half of the building for $22,000, according to his lawyer, more than 20 years ago, and later expanded into the space next-door. Now it’s been empty for a couple years, and has faced increasing vandalism–broken windows, graffiti, stolen pipes, etc.
According to public record, Gosnell still owns the property, though he also owes about $15,000 of real estate taxes on it. Were the city inclined to take property away from owners who don’t pay back taxes (ahem), they might be able to do so in this case–unless Gosnell is on a payment plan or made other arrangements of some kind.
Unfortunately for Gosnell’s neighbors, there is no justification for the city simply tearing the building down. From NBC3:
“I’ve been hoping and waiting that they’d tear it all down and build it back up new, with a great new kind of business there,” says Kat Reed. …
“It’s just waiting for somebody to buy it and fix it up,” said George Reed.
… “I want them to demolish the building,” [another neighbor] says. “It’s sitting here on the corner, it’s here for no reason, why still have it sitting here?”
Well, because it belongs to someone, even if that someone is in jail and charged with murder. And even if it is Philly’s House of Horrors.