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Western Springs Poll: Is a Tear-Down a Tragedy?

While some bemoan that the replacement of old homes with new ones is ruining the Village's feel, others clearly think differently, because they're buying those homes. What's your take?

( results: of 1 respondent, 100 percent [1] said he/she likes to picnic in a forest preserve besides Bemis Woods or Salt Creek. No votes for any other options were recorded.)

One of the frequent back-and-forths that I've noticed and read with great interest on this site is the issue of modern architecture (supposedly) encroaching upon the historical character of a Western Springs neighborhood.

Currently, the character of Village architecture might best be described as multifarious, mosaic. Despite residential lots being near-identical rectangular cuts, it's not uncommon to see towering five-bath traditionals alongside two-bedroom ranches or Cape Cod homes, houses worth about $1.5 million next to ones costing a fifth of that. Levittown we are not; you'll find all sorts here!

But, obviously, it's not those big houses that are getting torn down to build new little ones, and herein lies the debate: a little old bungalow from, say, the '20s, gets torn down to put up someone's million-dollar three-story dream house... are we gaining or losing more by this exchange? How about when it slowly happens en masse? What's won, and what is given up?

And if you do think it's unfortunate, is it because you think the old houses were cute or classy, or because the new one looks ugly? And what, if anything, could be done about it? After all, new homes are only built because people like living in new homes... !

Please weigh in below in this week's poll, and again in the comments! We love the debate and discussion that these issues spur!

Jacob Metzger August 01, 2012 at 10:19 PM
This town is full of "Mc Mansion" style homes, I have been in one, they need flare guns in every hallway.... I personaly see this town as a large bank... Its filled with great people.. But, The money that is poured into homes could be used in donations towards the village. We need a large section of town ( Old Town ) that doesnt have these huge houses all over the place. This town is nicknamed "The Play Ground For the Rich " by CNN... These houses are the reasons why. I am only a 6th Grader, but i know enough to outsmart teenagers... ( espeecialy the teenagers that make this town a nightmare with arson, drinking, doing illegal drugs, and all sorts of other stuff) .... I love this town, But its loosing its "historical punch" .. In my opinion.. A tear down IS a tragity..
Joseph R. Martan August 01, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Is this a cheesy attempt at satire?
Mike McCurdy January 22, 2013 at 09:00 PM
My mom and I used to live in a 20's brick home, with my grandparents, in 59'-64' - the 3900 block of Grove. If you know what 'Mayfield' of TV-land was, that was WS in those years. I loved living there. I just street-viewed our old house (I live far away now) and was disappointed to see a photo of construction work, turning it into what I call one of the huge monstrosity homes that have gone up there in years past. If nothing else, most of the ones I have seen there are aesthetically retching to me - huge but not attractive, too big for the lots. I know that people have families and have to live somewhere but it is still disappointing to see that done to some of these homes. I was there four years ago for the first time in a long time, walking around the old neighborhoods. It was fun to see and also good to see kids walking on their own back from lunch to my old school Laidlaw, even if someone did call the police on me (I was taking pictures throughout my walk) :) It seemed still not far off from "Mayfield."
brian hickey January 22, 2013 at 09:34 PM
I'll try to personalize this discussion a little further. I grew up in a Hinsdale home built in the late 1800's - a great old lady, close to town and school, lots of character - the whole thing, I get it. The house is still standing, kind of, I drive by it almost daily and wonder what will happen when the current owner becomes a seller. My experience tells me that the owner will sell to the buyer willing to pay the most $ (nothing new here). The dilemma, question, issue, problem....? Let's take the preservation side (that seems to be where most of the angst is) - what is the cost of renovation, because as it sits now (I went through it recently) it is unlikely the new buyer wouldn't have interest in new this and that (kitchen, baths etc.). What would a renovation project entail? Firstly, the basement is full of asbestos, the plumbing is a disaster, no A/C, windows are trouble, the electrical is dangerous, kitchen is unworkable by today's standards etc. Anyone have any idea what it would cost to make it safe, somewhat efficient and user-friendly? My guess is about $1MM - now that's a spicy meatball :) Again, like it or hate it - the buyer will be the only one to determine the fate of the old house. I often look at old photos of a city scape (i.e. Chicago's skyline) or suburban community (like WS) and when I do, I see change. IMO, at the end of the day it should be about evolution not revolution. Peace. Brian
Darren McRoy January 22, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Thanks for sharing, guys! Nice to see some old stories and threads get fresh interest.

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