Endangered Buildings & Places
Across the United States, an alarming number of historic homes are being leveled and trucked to the landfill to make room for oversized new houses on the same lots. This recent real estate development trend has been devastating to the visual character and charm that make our oldest neighborhoods so attractive in the first place. The large-scale and often suburban-style homes frequently shoehorned into small urban lots, with wide driveways and large garages, are a detriment to the essential rhythm and fabric of the neighborhood regardless of impact on property values.
Unfortunately, Tulsa is beginning to experience both ends of the teardown spectrum. Most at risk are small bungalows and WWII-era cottages, torn down for huge new houses. However, grander homes on large lots are often demolished and the lot split to make way for several patio homes or townhouse developments in single-family neighborhoods. Both trends are disturbing to long-time residents.
Most teardowns do not bring density to older neighborhoods, which are already the densest in town. Instead, they simply add larger structures to the same lot, often dwarfing neighboring dwellings. A better solution is to focus on redevelopment of existing structures, including sensitive rear additions, and architecturally compatible infill on vacant land.
For more information, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has developed a publication entitled Protecting America’s Historic Neighborhoods: Taming the Teardown Trend as well as an online Teardown Resource Guide.