Debusk house

The former home of Annie Blanton, located on Debusk Street, shortly before its demise. The home was torn down by the city, and a new home was built in its place — courtesy of a HOME grant.

First in a six part series about the receipents of the HOME grants from the City of Jacksonville.

By April Barbe

Standing outside the structure at 809 Debusk St., which she’d called home for more than 40 years, as a construction crew tore it down, a few months ago, Annie Blanton held back the tears.

Although she was one of the six Jacksonville resident chosen to receive a HOME Grant for a new home to be built in the same location — watching the home fall to the ground, eventually, brought tears streaming down her face, as a neighbor consoled her.

“It’s like losing a member of the family,” Blanton said. “We had a lot of happy memories in that home. And also sad ones ... my husband died in that home.”

Blanton’s late husband, Vernon Bowens died in 1994. The home belonged to his family, and Blanton said it must have been around 100 years old.

“He already lived here, and I moved in around 1964 or 1965, after we got married. I had two daughters from a previous marriage, and then we had a son and we raised them all together there,” Blanton said.

The home on Debusk Street saw many cookouts through the years, Blanton said, including a graduation party for their son in 1987. Blanton said the cookouts are some of her favorite memories.

“Sometimes my family would surprise me with a birthday dinner, and one time we thought we had surprised my husband for his birthday, but later he said he’d known,” Blanton said. “But we had some good times.”

What was Blanton’s main reason for applying for a HOME Grant, if the home held so many memories for her?

“It had been dilapidating for so many years. And it would get so cold in the winter and really, really hot in the summers (without central heat and air). I got pneumonia once and almost died,” she said.

She said the window seals were also rotten and pieces of sheet rock had fallen from the ceiling.

Therefore, although it was hard to see it go, Blanton is happy about the new home, provided by the city.

“I am so happy, thrilled and blessed, I tell you. At first I thought I was just going to get some repairs, but then they told me that I was getting a new house! The Lord has just blessed all six of us who are getting new homes, and we are so thankful,” Blanton said.

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