Last week, I heard a local realtor proclaiming in a loud voice that, although the house across the street was small for the family with four children to whom he was selling the house, he had told them they could buy the house, tear it down and build a larger one. The house, a “beautifully-maintained Tudor,” as the realty sales literature correctly states, will be 100 years old in just a few years.
Historic architecture contributes materially to the character, visual interest and curb-appeal of a community. Realtors should balance the long-term effects of destroying historic houses and the impact on the community with the need to make a quick sale. A beautiful old house with unique architecture should not be promoted for its tear-down capability.
I went to the considerable effort of landmarking my family’s beautiful 1925 New England / Georgian Colonial house and property in 2001. Homeowners are hesitant to do this, I am informed, because the property’s restrictions for future modification reduce the sale price of the house. State or local government might consider financial incentives to offset these potential losses.
My cousin, a realtor in a small rural community in Orange County, informs me that New York State has passed a law in which a percentage of farmland must be allocated in exchange for housing development. So, the state has some awareness of the need to preserve the character and visual impact of historic acreage. Warwick has preserved its glorious historic houses and has still managed to develop any number of new properties. People move to Warwick because of its visual appeal.
Great Neck is already papered with houses that were slapped up where architecturally historic and unique houses once stood. I ask realtors to stop promoting the destruction of historic houses and buyers to buy houses which suit their future needs at the time of purchase in preference to the destruction of beautiful properties.