Local activist Mo Karnage is putting the visually unique Wingnut Anarchist Collective house up for sale, hoping to pass the conspicuous building on to “another intentional or egalitarian community.”
The two-story, four-bedroom house in southern Barton Heights — at 2005 Barton Ave. — is advertised on Zillow for $130,000.
Karnage has been an outspoken figure at recent Richmond City Council meetings, and memorably referred to former council president Charles Samuels as “a dingo.” But she says a break is in order for now. She’s moving to a secluded plot in Hanover County.
“I’m not ever gonna stop doing what I do,” she says of her activism and community projects. “Still, the depressing headlines about our city government always dropping the ball — they wear on you.”
The Wingnut house has undergone extensive renovations, says Karnage, who runs a window restoration and home renovation business called Karnage Creations. Those include new floors, plus a new furnace and water heater. The original bath and kitchen fixtures have been replaced, and the plumbing and electrical systems got a makeover in 2009.
Karnage says renovations have cost her around $50,000. She also notes that there are superficial additions, like vibrantly colored walls.
The home’s brick facade is a veritable mural, featuring the words, “In the Memory of People Murdered by the State.” On the second story, a policeman is depicted as a domestic swine. Its entry onto the market was reported by the Brookland Park Post blog last week.
“I’m a historic houses nerd, and the Wingnut house is awesome in that regard,” Karnage says. “It was condemned when I bought it, and it’s in better shape now than it was before.”
The neighborhood devalues the house, Karnage says, wondering if she’ll even get offers near her asking price. It’s roughly a block from the Barton Heights home of School Board member Shonda Harris-Muhammed, where police confiscated a marijuana plant during a drug search in July 2013. In a Back Page opinion essay for Style, Karnage spoke out against what she called hypocrisy while writing that “institutional racism is reflected in the unequal enforcement of drug laws.”
A meeting planned for August will allow current Wingnut tenants to voice their opinions about the sale, Karnage says, adding that no one will be kicked out on short notice. As for the site in Hanover, which was owned by Karnage’s grandfather, she says she plans to renovate it and someday raise a family there.
“After a while, you just get tired at the slow pace of change, even though direct action makes a difference,” Karnage says. “But I still own a business in Richmond, so I have a voice. To city leaders I say: Don’t relax just yet.”
Editor's note: This story reflects a correction to the print version. Karnage is moving to the county of Hanover, not Henrico.