This old house has story to tell
Last updated 8/4/2021 at 2:59pm | View PDF
The house next door to us is going to be torn down. I know that isn't news in this town where old homes are torn down everyday.
But there are many things that happen all the time - every day - and until they happen to you, well, they don't mean as much. I should add that while it is accurate to say that homes are torn down all the time, it is not accurate to say that it has happened on our block. In fact, except for a couple of homes on the edges of our block, it, and the homes on it, have pretty much remained as they were for the past 80 to 100 years. There have been renovations, family room additions, new roofs, new kitchens and new bathrooms. But the bones of the homes, the historic streetscape, has remained intact. That is about to change.
Our home was built in 1928, the same year as our neighbor's home. I have pictures of those houses, the first two on our block, as they rose from an old, barren potter's field in what would then be, and still is, known as the Robbins Subdivision, so named for Hinsdale's founder, William Robbins.
A traditional brick Georgian, our home was built for $5,000 and, in the 1950s, was passed from the original owners, the Parkers, to their daughter and her husband, Betty and Jim Ware, who raised their family there. We purchased our home from the Wares almost 30 years ago. So, we are only the second family to own our home. Paradoxically, our neighbor's home, a brick Mediterranean style with a tile roof, has had several owners, three of whom owned the house during the time we have lived here. Until now, that house was sufficient, was loved, was enough.
Now I know things change. I am a realist and understand how the market works. But I have to tell you, I didn't expect the neighboring demolition process to make me feel the way it did. Strangers disassembling the house, walking out the front door with doors, light fixtures, moldings. People digging up plants, loading them into plastic tubs to be replanted in places those plants had never been. It felt a little like the scene from "A Christmas Carole" after Scrooge dies and they are selling his curtains and bedsheets to the local scavenger. Perhaps I am being too dramatic - but it kind of did.
I am not writing this to make people stop tearing down houses. Many have tried that and it just doesn't work. The world moves on and, I guess, the houses go with it. I am writing this because, as you know from most everything I write, I believe in the importance of the stories of our lives. Houses have stories, too. So, I wanted you to know a little about these homes. Standing as they have side by side for almost a century, the stage for the memories of so many lives. Telling their story is the least I can do.
- Laura LaPlaca of Hinsdale is a former contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].