Huyser House demolished

More than 20 years of debate preceded the leveling.
The crew from Specialized Demolition of Hamilton begin demolishing the Huyser House, 4158 64th St., on Monday morning, June 3, 2024.

After more than 20 years of debate, the 84-year-old Huyser House in Laketown Township was reduced to a pile of debris in less than an hour on Monday morning, June 3, 2024.

Specialized Demolition of Hamilton arrived about 7 a.m. and within an hour, much of the structure was toppled. Work is expected to continue at the site through Tuesday, June 4.

“It’s never an easy process or fun experience to see an older home come down,” said Brad Laninga, chairperson of the Laketown Township Parks and Recreation Commission, the group that oversees the house and all parks.

“As someone elected to represent Laketown Township, it’s our responsibility to make the best decision in the interests of all residents. After over 20 years of discussion, the house is no longer a health or safety issue. Parks looks forward to upgrading the farm and park with improved trails, gardens, and blueberry fields,” he said.

The crew from Specialized Demolition of Hamilton begin demolishing the Huyser House, 4158 64th St., on Monday morning, June 3, 2024.

All the debris from the structure will be removed and the hole filled in.

The parks commission welcomes ideas for the newly opened space. Contact Laninga at The commission meets at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the township hall, 4338 Beeline Road.

“It is our intent to never forget the amazing gift the Huyser family gave to our township,” he said.

A crew from Specialized Demolition of Hamilton loads debris from what once was the Huyser House, 4158 64th St., into a truck for removal on Monday, June 3, 2024.

House history

The 1,559-square-foot, two-story home was built in 1939 by Manuel and Lilah Huyser. Lilah, 85, died in 1996. Manuel, 90, died in 1999.

The house, along with several other structures that have since been removed, came with the donation of the 102 acres that make up Huyser Farm Park at the corner of 142nd Avenue and 64th Street. Since the township acquired the land in 2001, the house has been empty, and the parks commission has not been able to settle on a use for the home.

A special committee in December 2022 concluded the house should be torn down.

In a controversial decision, the then-chairperson of the parks commission tasked the township building authority with finding a “do-able” plan for the house. The building authority proposed turning it into a Living Legacy Center for multiple uses such as a parks office, history site or gallery. The parks commission, though, was unhappy with that proposal and sent a letter to the township board in opposition to the building authority plan.

The parks commission voted unanimously on Nov. 15, 2023, to tear down the structure. On Jan. 17, 2024, the parks commission approved the bid to demolish the house and sent it to the township board for a final decision.

On March 13, the township board approved the bid, sealing the fate of the house.

Laketown Township resident Steven Ringelberg proposed leasing the Huyser House from the township, restoring it into a long-term rental. The parks commission was not interested in the plan.

Video of the demolition is available on the township’s Instagram site here.

A look from inside the Huyser House, 4158 64th St., on Monday, June 3, 2024, before the home is to be demolished. The demolition equipment had just arrived on the scene.