Kentucky family’s fight to keep grandmother, 76, in home where she’s lived since 1969 as heartless highway developers plan to evict her and raze it to the ground

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • A 76-year-old Kentucky widow was told that her home of 55 years was going to be torn down to expand a highway
  • Janet Arnett has begged the developers to ‘leave her be’ as she is ‘too old to start over’
  • Arnett’s tight-knit family have stepped in with a petition to raise awareness and save their beloved ‘Mamaw’s House’ from being razed 

The family of a 76-year-old widow started a petition after Kentucky highway developers tried to uproot her home of 55 years – only to be left in the dark by local officials about the future of her house. 

Janet Arnett bought the 63-acre property in 1969 and spent decades living in mobile homes before building her own house in 1998 with her husband Lowell – who passed away in 2015.

The home became the tight-knit family’s meeting point and was fondly referred to as ‘Mamaw’s House.’

Arnett was told by highway developers in October that her home would be demolished for the Mountain Parkway expansion and that she would have no choice but to lose the home she treasured. 

Members of Arnett’s family were heartbroken by the news. By losing the house, they would lose decades of memories and traditions along with it.

Janet Arnett, 76, is begging to save her home of 55 years before it is knocked down to widen a nearby highway

Arnett bought her 63-acre property in 1969 and spent decades living in mobile homes before building her own house with her husband Lowell - who passed away in 2015

Arnett bought her 63-acre property in 1969 and spent decades living in mobile homes before building her own house with her husband Lowell – who passed away in 2015

Arnett was told by highway developers in October that her home would be demolished for The Mountain Parkway expansion and that she would have no choice but to lose the home she treasured

Arnett was told by highway developers in October that her home would be demolished for The Mountain Parkway expansion and that she would have no choice but to lose the home she treasured

This was the last photograph taken before Lowell Sr. died suddenly one morning while making coffee in the kitchen (from left to right: Lowell Jr., Janet Arnett, Lanessa DeMarchis, Lowlel Sr., Janeah Gullett)

This was the last photograph taken before Lowell Sr. died suddenly one morning while making coffee in the kitchen (from left to right: Lowell Jr., Janet Arnett, Lanessa DeMarchis, Lowlel Sr., Janeah Gullett) 

The home became the tight-knit family's meeting point and was fondly referred to as 'Mamaw's House'

The home became the tight-knit family’s meeting point and was fondly referred to as ‘Mamaw’s House’

'I'm too old to start over,' Arnett told DailyMail.com. 'Leave me be,' she pleaded

‘I’m too old to start over,’ Arnett told DailyMail.com. ‘Leave me be,’ she pleaded

Arnett’s daughter Lanessa DeMarchis is campaigning with family, friends, and locals to convince state officials to reconsider the highway route. 

DeMarchis, Arnetts’s youngest daughter, told DailyMail.com that she was ‘devastated’ at the thought of having her elderly mother ripped from the privacy, tranquility and safety of her home. 

‘We grew up there without technology and not much money,’ DeMarchis said of Mamaw’s House. 

Ever since the petition Arnett’s family started to gain traction online, gaining more than 2,000 signatures, local officials and highway developers went radio silent.

The change.org page called upon supporters to reach out to Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, Governor Andy Beshear, Senator Brandon Smith, Representative John Blanton and the Kentucky Department of Transportation and ‘lodge their ‘dissent of her losing her home and land due to the expansion of the Mountain Parkway.’

Local officials are being called upon to ‘consider an alternative option which allows her to stay in her home and maintain some of her land.’

DailyMail.com has reached out to all of the government officials regarding their plans for Arnett’s home. 

Instead of offering a compromise or giving the family a construction timeline to prepare a solution, they have been ghosting Arnett and her relatives – leaving them in the dark about where they stand with the future of Mamaw’s House. 

DeMarchis revealed that she spoke to officials on Wednesday morning, but they had no update.

The youngest daughter demanded to know ‘where are we moving her to?’ because Eastern Kentucky has nowhere to relocate her mother. DeMarchis described the possibility of a move for her 76-year-old mother as ‘impossible.’

‘I’m too old to start over,’ Arnett told DailyMail.com. ‘Leave me be,’ she pleaded. 

‘You don’t just uproot someone from their life,’ DeMarchis added. ‘It’s not right.’

The change.org page called upon supporters to reach out to Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, Governor Andy Beshear, Senator Brandon Smith, Representative John Blanton and the Kentucky Department of Transportation

The change.org page called upon supporters to reach out to Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, Governor Andy Beshear, Senator Brandon Smith, Representative John Blanton and the Kentucky Department of Transportation

Instead of offering a compromise or giving the family a construction timeline to prepare a solution, they have been ghosting Arnett and her relatives - leaving them in the dark about where they stand with the future of Mamaw's House

Instead of offering a compromise or giving the family a construction timeline to prepare a solution, they have been ghosting Arnett and her relatives – leaving them in the dark about where they stand with the future of Mamaw’s House

Members of Arnett's family were heartbroken by the news

By losing the house, they would lose decades of memories and traditions along with it

Members of Arnett’s family were heartbroken by the news. By losing the house, they would lose decades of memories and traditions along with it

Arnett's granddaughter Zoe Parker said that Mamaw's House was where the family would celebrate all of their holidays. 'Who I am was built at Mamaw's House,' Zoe said

Arnett’s granddaughter Zoe Parker said that Mamaw’s House was where the family would celebrate all of their holidays. ‘Who I am was built at Mamaw’s House,’ Zoe said

Lanessa DeMarchis, Arnetts's youngest daughter, told DailyMail.com that she was 'devastated' at the thought of having her elderly mother ripped from the privacy, tranquility and safety of her home

Lanessa DeMarchis, Arnetts’s youngest daughter, told DailyMail.com that she was ‘devastated’ at the thought of having her elderly mother ripped from the privacy, tranquility and safety of her home

The Arnett family's farm pond on the property freezes over during winter in Kentucky

The Arnett family’s farm pond on the property freezes over during winter in Kentucky

Arnett’s son, Lowell Jr., told DailyMail.com that Mamaw’s House was more than just a property. For him, it was 70 acres of nature where he enjoyed playing in as a child and got to watch younger generations of the family grow up in too. 

He described learning how to fish, hunt and swim in the land surrounding Mamaw’s House and said that losing the house would be like losing his childhood. 

Lowell Jr. revealed that the success of the petition pushed local officials and highway developers in the opposite direction, leading them to ghost the family as they scramble to appease them.  

Arnett’s granddaughter Zoe Parker said that Mamaw’s House was where the family would celebrate all of their holidays. 

‘Who I am was built at Mamaw’s House,’ Zoe said. 

She recalled one of the last memories she has of her late grandpa, which was spent on the porch at Mamaw’s House where he was bird watching, as he often did. 

Lowell Jr. revealed that the success of the petition pushed local officials and highway developers in the opposite direction, leading them to ghost the family as they scramble to appease them

Lowell Jr. revealed that the success of the petition pushed local officials and highway developers in the opposite direction, leading them to ghost the family as they scramble to appease them

Lowell Jr. described learning how to fish, hunt and swim in the land surrounding Mamaw's House and said that losing the house would be like losing his childhood

Lowell Jr. described learning how to fish, hunt and swim in the land surrounding Mamaw’s House and said that losing the house would be like losing his childhood

The home sprawled over 70 acres and even had a zipline

The home sprawled over 70 acres and even had a zipline

Arnett's son, Lowell Jr., told DailyMail.com that Mamaw's House was more than just a property

Arnett’s son, Lowell Jr., told DailyMail.com that Mamaw’s House was more than just a property

For Lowell, the property was 70 acres of nature where he enjoyed playing in as a child and got to watch younger generations of the family grow-up in too

For Lowell, the property was 70 acres of nature where he enjoyed playing in as a child and got to watch younger generations of the family grow-up in too

A sign on the wall of Arnett's home with the nickname the family has called it for decades

A sign on the wall of Arnett’s home with the nickname the family has called it for decades

‘People live on on in the places and people they leave behind,’ the granddaughter said. 

Lowell Sr. died suddenly in 2015. He had been in the kitchen making coffee when he suffered a pulmonary embolism.

For the Arnett family, the house holds a lifetime of memories of their grandfather that would be torn away if the home’s destruction takes place. 

Arnett says she’s grateful for the petition her family started on her behalf, and is thankful for all the support she has received since being told about the Mountain Parkway expansion in October. 

The 76-year-old said, ‘Right now, I’m just down on the thought of what I’m facing.’

‘Why they couldn’t have built the road a little further in front or behind my house. Why right through my house?’

The family have insisted that they think the road is a good thing – and that they want the people of Eastern Kentucky to enjoy the benefits of the four-lane highway. 

‘We don’t want this to be a negative thing,’ DeMarchis said – adding that the family have never once put an individual person or their local representatives on blast for the ‘heartless’ decision. 

Arnett says she's grateful for the petition her family started on her behalf and is thankful for all the support she has received since being told about the Mountain Parkway expansion in October

Arnett says she’s grateful for the petition her family started on her behalf and is thankful for all the support she has received since being told about the Mountain Parkway expansion in October

The 76-year-old said, 'Right now, I'm just down on the thought of what I'm facing'

The 76-year-old said, ‘Right now, I’m just down on the thought of what I’m facing’

'You don't just uproot someone from their life,' Arnett's youngest daughter Lanessa DeMarchis said. 'It's not right'

‘You don’t just uproot someone from their life,’ Arnett’s youngest daughter Lanessa DeMarchis said. ‘It’s not right’

When the state transportation department told Arnett that they were taking her home, they offered to 'buy' the property. But to the widow and her family - the house is priceless

When the state transportation department told Arnett that they were taking her home, they offered to ‘buy’ the property. But to the widow and her family – the house is priceless

The family is now pleading with everyone to support their grandmother in her time of need

Family members created a petition to support their Grandma

The family is now pleading with everyone to support their grandmother in her time of need by signing the petition and contacting local officials until they offer a compromise

Four of Arnett's grandchildren, who spent big parts of their lives on her property

Four of Arnett’s grandchildren, who spent big parts of their lives on her property

Plans for an expansion to Mountain Parkway run right through the middle of her land

Plans for an expansion to Mountain Parkway run right through the middle of her land

‘Officials are supposed to make you feel safe,’ Zoe said of local government. But in this instance, they are doing the opposite, she added. 

When the state transportation department told Arnett that they were taking her home, they offered to ‘buy’ the property. But to the widow and her family, the house is priceless. 

The family is now pleading with everyone to support their grandmother in her time of need by signing the petition and contacting local officials until they offer a compromise.  

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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