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Historic home hit by vandals

May 26, 2011

A historical staple of Catawba County may never look the same.
The owners of the Rock Barn House in Conover are saying unidentified suspects broke into the historic home sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon and completely vandalized the property.
The Catawba County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident, but Sheriff Coy Reid said a incident report was not filed as of press time Thursday.
Donald Herman, 56, of Conover, owns the property along with five siblings and said the sheriff's department estimated more than $100,000 in damages to the home.
No one has lived in the house for a year.
"It just doesn't make any sense," Herman said. "They stole stuff before, but it was never like this."
The destruction to the home was astounding, with nearly every room, floorboard, window and amenity affected in some way by the vandals seemingly torrent through the house. The stinging stench of spilt Drano mixed with the pungent odor of scattered-about paint, created an almost unbearable scent through the house.
The living room and kitchen resembled a post-apocalyptic nightmare, with syrup and dull-white paint slung across the walls and floors while every refrigerator item lay scattered about both rooms. Walking up the stairs, it was hard not to slip on the dry soap and slippery paint intentionally laid across each stair.
"Why they dumped all of this all over the stairs, I don't know," Herman said. "It's just pure meanness."
Herman said his parents and grandparents lived in the house for years and were very peaceful people. His grandparents, who were farmers, inhabited the house from the Hoke family "years ago." In 1990, the Rock Barn Farm became an official Catawba County registered historical landmark.
"It's just sad, and it (makes you) sick to your stomach that someone would do this," said Debbie Herman, Donald's wife. "We would still come to the house and stay for Thanksgiving and Christmas to get together as a family."
Debbie added that sheriff's department officers suspected individuals from Hall Dairy Road probably walked down from their near-by location and trashed the house.
"It had to be kids," Herman said.
Regardless of who committed the vandalism, Herman will not let this incident ruin the house.
"That's all you can do is pick up the pieces and move on," he said. "I'll just clean it back up and move on."
Debbie said that after sending a message out on Facebook, volunteers have already agreed to help the two clean up the house.
But even if Herman and friends "pick up the pieces," the large-scale vandalism brings up other questions about the house's historical value that was underscored by the married couple's conversation as they strolled away from the home.
"It costs more to repair the house than it does to re-build it," Herman said.
"But still, it's your heritage," Debbie replied.
"You're right, it definitely is," Herman said.

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