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The house that ammunition boxes built

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Kevin Chase recently took the helm of the Grandview School District. His first day as superintendent was July 1. Chase said since taking the position he has been busy talking to different people within the district, trying to learn the history of what has gone on in the Grandview school system.

GRANDVIEW - Walking into the garage it is easy to mistake the boxes lining the walls as a complex system of shelves that runs from floor to ceiling. Instead, the "shelves" are ammunition boxes made in the mid-1940s and were used as construction material to build the exterior walls of the Grandview home recently purchased by Rene Pedraza.

Pedraza said the ammunition boxes haven't been the only surprise the small two-bedroom home has held. He said he has found old movie theater equipment in the basement, along with old Spanish movie posters and theater seats. He has also found decades worth of momentos. Pedraza said he has found magazines from the 1950s and '60s that someone stuffed with clippings of poems from different publications. He said he also has found letters written from the grandchildren of one of the home's previous owners.

Pedraza said when he purchased the house he had no idea what he was getting himself into. He said he had seen an advertisement somewhere noting that there was going to be a county auction on three foreclosed properties, one in Yakima, one near the Silver Dollar on State Route 241 and one in Grandview. He said he visited the property in Yakima but wasn't interested and couldn't find the property near the Silver Dollar. Pedraza said the Grandview property was the only one that interested him.

Despite being interested in the Grandview property, Pedraza said he didn't know any more about it than what he could see by peering through the windows of the structure.

When Pedraza, who plans to tear down the house and construct a new house on the land and sell the property, first started demolition work he was surprised by what he found. He said walking into the house the only place the walls were exposed was in a small section of the garage. That is where he caught his first glimpse of the ammunition boxes.

Pedraza said taking the sheet rock down piece by piece throughout the house he was more than a little surprised to find that all of the outer walls of the structure were constructed of the boxes. Pedraza said once he took a good look at the ammunition boxes he contacted the Yakima firing center to find out more about them. He said firing center officials were sure that the boxes must have come from their facility years ago. Pedraza said the boxes, which are stamped to indicate they were made in the mid-1940s, are thought to have at one time been filled with 155 mm Howitzer shells.

Pedraza said he is not sure how many boxes, which still have the rope handles attached, make up the structure. He said he counted more than 60 boxes in four or five rows in the garage.

Pedraza said he is amazed by the thought that went into putting the structure together. He said he is also surprised at how well the house has held up over the years.

"It says something for the gentleman who constructed this," Pedraza said.

Pedraza said going through everything he has found in the house has been interesting. He said since he started demolishing the building he has found crochet books that date back to 1915, old copies of several local newspapers and a variety of old record albums. Pedraza said when he first walked into the basement he was surprised to find it so full of stuff. He said over time he has found everything from old movie posters and piles of theater seats to an old combination gas stove and trash burner.

Pedraza said at this point he is not sure what he plans to do with all of his new found treasures. He said he would like to sell some of them, although he added that he is sure he is going to keep some of the things he finds the most interesting. He said he already has several ammunition boxes cleaned up and sitting at his house. Pedraza said the things he has found the most interesting are the letters from the grandchildren of the original owners of the home. Pedraza said he also plans on keeping some of the old photographs he has found that depict scenes from movies he remembers watching as a child.

"I hope to keep some of them and frame them," Pedraza said.

Despite having found a wide range of items in the house, Pedraza said he is sure there is more that he has yet to uncover.

"I don't think I've explored everything there is just yet," Pedraza said.

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