Teardown. This noun was not even a part of our real estate vocabulary ten years ago and now the mere mention strikes like a lighting bolt down our spines. As life-long residents of our town, Hinsdale, we bask in the traditions of our fair village and enjoy the historical ambiance our century old homes provide. Our town was a “summer-place” for many city dwellers who would come to enjoy the cool breezes that wafted through the Elm crowned yards. They would build their cottages and homes to escape the sweltering heat of the brick monolith called Chicago and would gamely commute the seventeen miles on the Burlington train, to work and back, relishing the country quietude that awaited them at the end of the day. Barbers and grocers lived side-by-side with bankers and titans of industry. Life was slow and sweet, and everyone enjoyed the values and closeness that a small town brings.
If stability characterized the first hundred years, change will undoubtedly mark the next. Our town has become a popular destination for people from far and wide. Our school system is one of the top in the state. Our geographical location, nestled near proximity to airports, highways and trains makes our village a convenient spot to live, what with today’s demanding lifestyles. We use the phrase “only 20 minutes from Chicago… but a world apart” in our company’s advertising to emphasize proximity and contrasts. Our world is polar from that of Chicago and yet we can enjoy all of the positive things a city can offer in only a matter of minutes. “The best of both worlds” might accurately describe the lifestyle our fair village affords, but alas, with one exception.
Our popularity has broad appeal and so, understandably, some of our prospective villagers do not necessarily enjoy the same esthetics we treasure. The sound of the wrecking ball has become far too familiar in recent years, as we see home after home vanish and be replaced with great imposing structures. To be sure, our town has its share of non-descript ranch houses which seemed to spring up like mushrooms after a Spring rain during the years following the Second World War. Few of these would be missed should they vanish in the night. And many of the replacement homes are tastefully done, employing correct scale and a keen eye toward architectural detail. However, in more than a few instances, our regal Victorians and quaint cottages are being replaced with replicas of castles from the Loire Valley, replete with turrets and moats – monuments to conspicuous consumption.
Bitter? Not exactly. We like to think we are progressive and surely this is a mark of progress… of some kind. I guess a love of history and a good measure of nostalgia is to blame. We really don’t begrudge these new people their chance to build a grand new home and we certainly understand why they would like to live here with us. I suppose our concern is that these homes must live long enough to be tomorrow’s treasures and we’re a little skeptical of some. But then, we probably won’t be around to judge. And, I suppose if all else fails, they can be torn down again and replaced with something different, - like replicas of those wonderful old Victorians that used to stand so proudly on our tree-lined streets. Now there’s an idea!
Member, Hinsdale Preservation Commission
Managing Broker/Owner, County Line Properties