What is going on with the house in Allied Gardens at the I-8 exit?


Growing up in Allied Gardens, it was hard not to notice this funny little '50s-style tract house standing on its own at the bottom of Waring Road, right next to the exit to I-8 west. It's somewhat boarded up, but often lights are on. It has been there for as long as I can remember, which is about 25 years, and has always been a topic of debate in my family. The prevailing opinion is that it is owned by either the power or water company as a surveying post. But I seem to remember seeing bird or rabbit hutches there at one time. Have you any answers?

-- Karen Ellis, Normal Heights

The odd little colony of five buildings is a pump station for the city's water department. It's served Allied Gardens and other uphill neighborhoods for decades. Until about 15 years ago, a caretaker lived in the largest house, and just maybe he raised rabbits. Nobody at the water department remembers now. There's the remains of a fenced-in garden, but no wildlife or caretaker these days. The guts of the operation, though, is underground. If you see the place on foot instead of by car, you'll note a giant concrete slab with access hatches and various other manhole-type structures. We also noted the "Chlorine" and "Combustible" signs and didn't hang around.

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