One mistake ... and their house was gone

Only questions, rubble remain after wrong home was demolished.

CARROLLTON —- To Al Byrd and his family, the house contained 2,200 square feet of memories.

His father, Raymond, had built the brick-and-concrete home in 1950 with his bare hands.

It's where all 10 Byrd children grew up, where they gathered to pray, where they lined up youngest to oldest for Christmas gifts, where they recall dad dispensing life lessons from the front porch. It's where neighbors would drop by to eat watermelons, peanuts and sweet potatoes, and rehearse for the choir.

Now, all that's left of the house are those memories —- and a pile of questions —- after the Carroll County home was mistakenly reduced to rubble Monday afternoon.

I'm "incredulous," said a still-shocked Byrd, a retired Xerox executive who lives in Atlanta. "It's not about money. This is about family."

The man who did the yard work at the home, which no one was living in, called Byrd late Monday with the news. Byrd immediately hopped on I-20 and called the Carroll County Sheriff's Department. He turned onto Byrd Trail —- named for his family —- in disbelief. Even the mailbox was no longer standing.

"Why did you knock this house down?" Byrd said he asked members of a Marietta demolition company Tuesday morning.

Byrd said a representative of North Georgia Container told him the company was hired by another company, Southern Environmental Services, to raze the home. And that company was hired by Fore Star Property, according to the sheriff's department report.

None of the three companies responded to messages left Thursday afternoon.

Byrd was told paperwork and GPS coordinates led the demolition crew to 11 Byrd Trail. He said no company ever contacted him before leveling the house.

"If we were going to get rid of it, we would have done it after my father died in 1998," Byrd said.

He suspects a house on the opposite side of the railroad tracks was the intended target of demolition. It's a wooden home with a green roof and substantially different than his three-bedroom family home.

Vernice Parham, who has lived on the street with two of her six sisters for more than 40 years, was home when the demolition began.

"It hurt my heart," she said. "I wasn't raised up in it, but I was raised up near it. I know we got a heavenly home. But we've got an earthly home there."

Byrd has hired a lawyer but said he is not yet sure what his next step will be. His only daughter is getting married on Saturday, and he doesn't want to be distracted for the big event.

"I'm trying to compartmentalize this," Byrd said Thursday afternoon. "I don't want to put a pall on the wedding."

Charlsie Otieno, 60, Al Byrd's youngest sister, fondly remembers learning her ABCs on the back porch, one of the few elements of the house left standing.

"This is like a death," she said. "It really is."