Today, Jan 14, 2013, a piece of American history was razed to the ground in Dallas, Texas. The apartment occupied by Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald at 604 Elsbeth Street is no more. The city of Dallas is in the midst of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but today, a piece of that history was destroyed.
The apartment building was built in 1925, according to WFAA in Dallas/Fort Worth, and was the home of the Oswalds between Nov. 1962 and March 1963.
The residence is mentioned in the Warren Commission report that investigated Kennedy's death and concluded Oswald acted alone.
Oswald lived at the complex with his wife and daughter for a four-month period from November 1962 to March 1963, eight months before Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
There has been much discussion about whether this site was worthy of being preserved. In 2007, it was purchased with hopes of renovation, but the city got a court order to raze the site due to safety issues. The judge called it an "'urban nuisance' and health hazard." There were issues with asbestos that were a special problem during the demolition. WFAA.com reports:
The city estimated demolition and asbestos abatement would run about $52,000 and said it may put a lien on the property to recover its costs.
For an interesting and entertaining article about the actual history of this apartment, be sure and read Gordon Keith's article in the Dallas Morning News. He is a Kennedy assassination buff, as are many Americans, and he even knows the history of the bathtub in the lives of both Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald. It is a sweet, poignant, and even haunting reflection.
Another piece of Lee Harvey Oswald's life, or rather his death, was also on the auction block in 2010 when the casket he was previously buried in was auctioned off at Nate D. Sander's Auctions. The casket had been replaced due to water damage when his body was exhumed in 1981 at the request of his brother, Robert Oswald and his widow, Marina Oswald. The Gawker had that story.
These family members, along with many John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists, wanted to be sure that the body was actually Lee Harvey Oswald and not a Russian agent. It was proven to be Oswald, and he was reburied in a new casket. The original had been stored at The Baumgardner Funeral Home until it was auctioned in 2010. Here is the description of the casket, provided by Nate D. Sander's Auctions, as reported by Gawker.
As Lee Harvey Oswald's coffin was lifted, evidence of extensive water damage to the casket was apparent — the cover was weak in many areas and in one place had caved in partially exposing the remains. The coffin's wood exterior was very soft from moisture damage, and had dark areas of discoloration. Visible along the sides were the tarnished original metallic ornamentation. The interior of the casket also showed splotchy dark discoloration and moisture-softening of the wood. A portion of the original fabric that lined the top of the casket had fallen upon the decomposed remains. After a thorough medical examination, the pathologists assigned to the case officially identified the body as Oswald's as dental records positively matched. At a press conference later that day the following famous statement was made, "The remains in the grave marked as Lee Harvey Oswald are indeed Lee Harvey Oswald." After the news conference, Oswald's remains were transported back to Rose Hill Cemetery for re-interment in a new casket and vault. The original deteriorated coffin offered here, measures 80" long x 24" deep, with the thickness of the sides of the casket approximately one inch. Sitting on wood crate which measures 84" x 24"
The coffin did fetch $87,468 at auction, according to Dallas News.com. Be sure and see the attached slide show of the original pine coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald that housed his body for 18 years. It is a bit macabre, but, like the apartment building at 604 Elsbeth Street, it is certainly an important part of our American story.
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