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Dee Briggs ’02MArch: pure gold

“When someone dies violently or too early in life,” Dee Briggs ’02MArch writes, “everyone remembers how amazing they were, how tragic their death, how much potential they had. I’m gold to remind you to see the value and beauty in people and places before they are gone.”

Briggs, a full-time artist, is not gold herself. She’s writing in the voice of the House of Gold—a boarded-up Victorian next door to Briggs’ Pittsburgh home and studio.

Briggs acquired the abandoned, decrepit house last year, intending to tear it down as “a nice addition to my side yard,” she explains in a video. But when she went inside, her Yale architecture training made it clear that—amidst the piles of trash and collapsed ceiling plaster—the house was much older than she’d realized.

Researching its history, Briggs found that the house was built in 1875 and had been home to families that were pillars of the neighborhood. She decided that building and neighborhood both deserved something better than a conventional, “violent” demolition.

So she painted the house gold—the whole thing—created a website to tell its story, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its “gentle demolition.”

“Simply put,” Briggs writes, “I don’t want to throw this house in the garbage”:

Taking the house apart—more or less in the reverse of how it was put together almost 140 years ago—will allow us to reuse most of the material to build something really wonderful on the site in the future. A coffee shop, a bus stop, community garden beds.

Briggs is trying to raise $30,000 by September 25 so she can “make a place that brings people in the neighborhood together.”


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Dee Briggs, House of Gold
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