This 79-Year-Old St. Louis Homeowner Is Fighting For Her Home After 70 Years

A St. Louis homeowner could be losing the home she has lived in for 70 years. Charlesetta Taylor won’t let it happen if she has anything to say about it, and she’s not alone.

The neighborhood that Taylor grew up in and has called home for most of her long life used to house the upper class citizens of north St. Louis. Over the past decade or so, that once proud heritage has faded quite a lot.

Over the years, the once-handsome buildings in the neighborhood have become victims of change. Developers have taken over portions of it little by little, and now it has become literally a broken shell of what it used to be.

Despite the erosion of the decades, St. Louis homeowner Charlesetta Taylor isn’t about to give up her part of it. Her greatest opponent is the city government itself, who wants to take the neighborhood, buy up all of the homes and remains, and build a spy center. The city is hoping that the federal government will choose the site for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) project.

The project is supposedly going to keep over 3,000 local jobs within the borders of St. Louis, but it would still mean Taylor and others would have to find a new home for the first time in decades.

Taylor isn’t the only one this project would impact. Her neighbor, Joyce Cooks, is a teacher who has lived there for 40 years. Cooks recalled how little respect the city had for another neighbor’s home.

“Across the street there was a man who got sick and died. The man wasn’t dead two weeks before his house came down. They just pulled the top off of that house. Then they came back to steal the bricks.

“I have lived in a house all my life. I have never lived in an apartment. I have 16-inch-thick brick walls, high ceilings, wooden floors, crown moldings. I’m going to fight to the end to stay. They might have to carry me out of here.”

If the federal government doesn’t choose the site for the facility, St. Louis homeowners who live in the area won’t need to relocate after a payoff. This was the pledge made by a city official, according to St. Louis Today.

Charlesetta Taylor recalls the times when hers was one of the few African-American families to live in the upper class housing.

“We were the first African-American family I know on this block and several other blocks around us. It was 1945, and there was a restrictive covenant restricting where African-Americans could live. But, nonetheless, my father was successful in buying this house for our large family.

“We celebrated everything in here, and there was always something going on. During Christmas, dozens of kids would be here: all my siblings, cousins and, later on, their children and children’s children.”

It all comes down to what the federal government decides. If the site is authorized, Taylor and Cook plan to be among those St. Louis homeowners who won’t go without a fight.

Taylor has already established a Change.org petition against the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) plans, and they have reassured her and other St. Louis homeowners that nothing will be done until 2016.

[Image via Karen Taylor / ABC News]