Following tragedy, Meriden man looking to give Davis Street home a makeover

Following tragedy, Meriden man looking to give Davis Street home a makeover


MERIDEN — A local real estate investor is looking to start a new chapter in a house where a young boy died last year.

The inside of the house at 13 Davis St. was blackened with smoke and filled with personal items, including children’s toys, when Nader Saleh purchased it earlier this year. He could not bring himself to go inside. Two months earlier, a fire in the house had resulted in the death of 8-year-old boy.

“Of the properties we own, maybe hundreds of units and properties we have developed over the years, this by far is my most difficult,” Saleh said. “I have four children so it’s very hard to look at it.”

On Nov. 14, firefighters found Elijah Ziolkowski and his mother, Karin Ziolkowski, in a rear bedroom. Elijah Ziolkowski died of smoke inhalation. Karin Ziolkowski was initially in critical condition, but survived. The mother and son were alone in the house when the fire occurred. Fire Marshal Steve Trella ruled the fire was set intentionally. A police investigation is pending.

Saleh purchased the house with his business partner on Jan. 20 for $29,900, according to the city records.

City building official Don Angersola said Saleh was issued a building permit for the property in March. While there was significant smoke damage in the bedrooms, Angersola said the house is structurally sound.

“The upstairs was pretty much cosmetics and smoke damage,” Angersola said. “The two bedrooms were really bad with smoke damage so they probably gutted them down to get rid of the smell.”

Saleh said he didn’t enter the house until crews had cleaned the interior and stripped every wall from floor to ceiling. Personal items, such as children’s toys and clothes, had been left behind.

In an effort to establish a new identity for the house, Saleh reorganized the interior to create a three-bedroom layout.

The home was abuzz with construction activity Monday as crews worked inside.

“We are hoping that this is a new house and a new chapter,” Saleh said.

Angersola was glad to see someone moving forward with the house, noting it would have been a shame to have it torn down.

“Hopefully another family will move in there and have a happy life,” he said. 203-317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

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