Flower man's house to be demolished in Third Ward

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The city gets ready to say goodbye to a familiar sight in the Third Ward (KTRK)

To passersby, the Flower Man house may just appear over run by junk. But, to a man and his community, there is beauty in each contribution.

"I think he changed the very nature of this neighborhood," said Peter Gershon, who wrote a book about the man behind the funky Third Ward home.

"He would notice beauty in trash that the rest of us would pass by without a second thought," said Gershon.

The home belonged to Cleveland Turner, affectionately known as The Flower Man.

"How do you not fall in love with a guy riding around in a bicycle full of flowers," said public artist Reginald Adams. "He always waved at everyone; he had a contagious smile."

Turner moved here from Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. He lived on the streets for 17 years, sleeping in old empty houses, eating out of dumpsters. He landed in a hospital one night for alcohol poisoning.

"While he was in the hospital he had a vision of a colorful whirlwind of junk," said Gershon.

Right then, Turner made a divine bargain in the hospital, vowing to build his vision with bits of toys and painted tools.

"If you were to drive by his house and see these dolls and figurines. He transformed it all into a work of art," said Adams.

Visitors would stop by with contributions and some would take what they wanted. Turner didn't mind. It was, after all, just junk.

The Flower Man died in 2013, and his house is deemed a public safety hazard and will be torn down this weekend.

"I believe that without Cleveland's presence here, the art is gone," said Gershon.

Even in the absence of this installation that keeps your eyes wandering, the Flower Man's spirit will always remain.

The demolition will be a celebration. Events begin Saturday, Feb. 7, at 10am and continue through 1pm.

Peter Gershon wrote a book about Turner called "Painting the Town Orange."
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