All Debbie and Steve Devey wanted to do was sell their house.
The couple didn't know they'd spark a community controversy, lose money and sacrifice their plans when they placed a two-bedroom home at 45 N. 100 East on the market.In response to an outcry by a historical group, the LDS Church has backed out of a deal with the Deveys to buy the 144-year-old home and a quarter-acre parcel. The church planned to raze the home to build a parking lot for a nearby chapel.
The Alpine couple is now dealing with uninvited guests who snap pictures of the adobe home and wondering how to recoup earnest money they lost on land for a new house they couldn't purchase because the deal with the church collapsed.
Alpine history buffs earlier this month pleaded with city officials to help delay the deal or buy the home for preservation, although the house is not listed on Utah's historical register.
"Our point was not to give the Deveys a bad time," said Kathy Heiner, president of the city's historical committee. "We were hoping the church would use it as a special project."
Jesse Hunsaker, president of the Alpine LDS Stake, said the church did not buy the land because of the community's concerns. A vacant lot adjacent to the church was purchased to temporarily alleviate some parking woes.
"The hardest thing for me is concern for the family," Hunsaker said. If Alpine residents truly want to preserve the house, he said, then they will find the financial backing.
Mayor Don Watkins expressed hope that the Deveys' deal with the church would be completed and the new owners could work with those who may want to preserve the rustic home, which is believed to be the only building still standing that was built as part of a pioneer fort.
After the deal was delayed two weeks ago, Watkins asked the committee to propose a financial solution. He urged residents to "take up the charge" because city funds were not available.
Councilwoman Pheobe Blackham also said she would not support using city funds to buy or restore the home. She also feels the Deveys were blindsided by residents sounding off against the church's parking lot plan at a previous council meeting.
The house is now back on the market. The Deveys, not surprisingly, want to leave Alpine.
Not a single person expressed interest in buying - or saving - the house until four days before the deal was to be closed with the church, Debbie Devey said.
Heiner said the committee is dedicated to helping the Deveys broker a deal with a family or business who will treasure owning a nugget of the city's lore. The next step is to get it listed on the state's historical register.
"We are hoping a group will take interest in the house," Heiner said. "We want someone who will treasure it as we see it."