Before the Treats (Kathy and Roger) came along, 715 N. Fourth St. was owned and cared for by a violin maker named David Weibe.
It was Weibe who successfully petitioned to add the Victorian-style home to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
“It was a manicured, beautifully kept property. That’s just the way David was, that’s how he lived his life. These people were a different story. They bought it from David and started the downhill trend,” David City Councilor Skip Trowbridge said.
Councilor Pat Meysenberg said he was friends with Weibe and actually helped build the garage.
“When I came over the first time and looked, I was just in awe. I couldn’t believe that they (the Treats) could destroy a piece of property like this,” Meysenberg said.
Meysenberg and Jeff Klug said a neighbor remembers the Treats’ son living there. Every night he would go to a home across the street to cook his meals before returning to his own house, where so much stuff was crammed into the kitchen it was completely unusable.
In a house that was full to the ceiling in most rooms, Jeff said the son’s second-floor bedroom was the cleanest when he and his wife began emptying the place. He seemed, Jeff said, to have maintained the clearest path through the house, taking him from a backdoor up to his room.
Around the Treats’ son, the yard, garage and house began to fall into disrepair.
“That particular property has been a nonconforming property pretty much since the Treats moved in. The mowing and the care for the property and the appearance just doesn’t meet community standard,” Trowbridge said.
Over the years the Treats would come up with various reasons why they couldn’t properly maintain the house, Trowbridge said.
“They have used multiple excuses. Roger’s health conditions were generally toward the forefront of it,” Trowbridge said.
At least once, Trowbridge said, the city sent crews over to the house to maintain the yard and exterior. The Treats grew increasingly unresponsive to the city’s demands that the property be cared for. The council was eventually forced to hire a private investigator to track them down in Colorado and serve them with papers to proceed in court so the city could take ownership of the property.
The Butler County Court sent three independent appraisers to value the building. The appraisers determined that the entire property, which sits on two lots, was worth $90,000. Earlier this year the city paid that amount to gain ownership of the property.
In the years before that, the Treats received numerous offers from people interested in buying the house.
“There were two offers made to the Treats to buy the property from them. And these were very substantial offers that the Treats were unwilling to discuss. They were both qualified buyers. The Treats told one person that they wouldn’t entertain anything under about two-and-a-half times what the bid was,” Trowbridge said.
After the Treats left, they essentially treated the house like a storage facility, City officials noted. And it’s not the only such instance – Meysenberg said the Treats left several other Nebraska properties in similar condition.
“I know of three houses and a business building in Octavia. They have two houses in Octavia right now that are plum full and Octavia had to get a court order to condemn the business building downtown. They ended up bulldozing that,” Meysenberg said.
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