Thorntown man's home decor irks neighbors

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Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

Thorntown - A Thorntown man who restores homes for a living is in a major dispute over the condition of his own home. Stewart Showalter uses his home to exercise his freedom of speech. Neighbors say his rights are killing their property values.

The house on Thorntown's Main Street has a boat in the yard, an iguana in the window and a styrofoam alligator below it. It pits Stewart Showalter against nearly everyone.

"It could always be worse. And the paint on the roof and the toliets and the signs and a lot of junk out there. I wouldn't call it junk," said Showalter.

But Showalter's neighbors and town officials do, citing the Thorntown man four times and ordering him to clean up his property. To say this has hasn't become personal is like saying this is a decorator's showhome.

"Basically, it all started with me being accused of not caring for my child and there's nothing more important to me than my child," he said.

Showalter is charged with neglect of a dependent, which he denies (hence the disparaging comments about the county prosecutor in the window.) Then came the complaints from concerned neighbors worried that Showalter's home is destroying their property values.

Privately, his neighbors and town officials have plenty to say about Stewart Showalter and his house but they won't say it on camera since several neighbors plan to sue him and the town will just continue issuing citations.

While neighbors didn't want to be on camera, one called police, complaining that we were trespassing on Showalter's property. Eyewitness News explained that Showalter had given us permission to walk on his property.

Property disputes are staples of the nation's courts, and this one is likely headed there.

"I'm very ready and willing to fight that suit and I'm preparing to file suit against the town," said Showalter.

If he loses, it's a victory for neighbors. If he loses, Stewart Showalter promises he'll buy ten more houses like the one he owns in Thorntown.

Showalter says he plans to get his house in order, but wants the complaints to stop. The Town Board President declined to comment.