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"McMansions" are Making People McMad

By Jocelyn Geboy in Arts & Entertainment on May 11, 2006 5:27PM

Apparently, the widespread craze of tearing down old buildings and replacing them with cookie-cutter buildings that don't really fit the character and style of the neighborhood and surrounding structures is *not* limited to the city limits of Chicago. With all the hype about the ongoing socioeconomic wars between the condo developer and the struggling artist renter here in the city, we were fairly stunned to hear that the same thing is happening in the places where the condo owners' parents live.2006_05mcmansion.jpg

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Kenilworth, a North Shore suburb, one of 11 endangered historic places nationwide in its yearly listing. Many of the homes in Kenilworth were designed by architects Frank Lloyd Wright and George Maher, and 32 houses have been torn down for new construction since 2001 and replaced with houses referred to as "McMansions". The Executive Vice-President for the trust, David Brown, was quoted as saying, "Architecturally and historically significant homes are being acquired by builders, torn down and replaced with houses that do not fit the character or scale of the neighborhoods." Hmmm. Seems like we've heard this tune before.

Currently, Kenilworth has no historic preservation ordinance to prevent demolition of old homes, and the trust's designation does not ensure protection of the sites listed as endangered. It seems like the list they've created is more of a heads-up, a "Hey!!! They're tearing your cool shit down!!! You might want to do something about this!!" but it's not like the trust has anything to say about the matter. The trust has identified a more widespread teardown threat in at least 300 other communities nationwide--1/6 of which are in the Chicago area. Looks like we've got our bulldoze on.

Image via Sun-Times Library