Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tudor Tear-Down on Hold as McMansion Lust Continues

Although a great many of the "McMansions" that have sprung up across the landscape are to be rightly reviled for their gross and overblown designs, the problem is doubly painful when a fine old home is demolished to make way for these monstrocities. The problem has recently come to light again in Wilmette, IL - where an attractive prarie-style home with connections to Frank Lloyd Wright may fall to a wrecking ball.

In the article about that house, writer Lee Bey notes the story of another local house - a 1901 stucco and stone Tudor-revival home on Essex Road designed by Irish architect William Wallace Blair, who also lived in the house after it was completed. The home (see photo) was purchased by Heritage Luxury Builders, which last year sought permission to demolish the home and build a brand new one on the lot.

Some local residents weighed in on the proposal, and village officials held off on issuing any permits until this March. Meanwhile, the builder has been working with the village on an alternative that could save the existing home by building a large addition that would include an attached three-car garage, three powder rooms, a home theater, and six bedroom suites. The asking price on the newly-renovated home is expected to be in the range of $3,800,000.

While the compromise on this proposal is to be applauded, it is sad to think that so many "luxury" home builders (and their customers) are so quick to tear down a fine old house like this in the mistaken assumption that they can do better. All too often, we end up with a boring mish-mash of styles where sheer size has been substituted for style as a measure of taste and accomplishment.

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