Happy Historic Preservation Month, Hinsdale

Series: Robbins Remade | Story 2

Historic preservation seems to be experiencing a renaissance, if you will, in Hinsdale.

Meetings of the Hinsdale Historic Preservation Commission, which once were dominated by requests to tear down historic homes and rebuild new ones, now are filled with homeowners requesting preservation incentives such as zoning relief, property tax rebates and expedited processing.

We’re pleased to see this development, as we’ve long been advocates for preserving the homes that add charm and character to the village — the very homes that make Hinsdale such an attractive place to live.

Of course we also respect individuals’ rights to do what they want with property they own — which is why the village’s initiative to add more opportunities to persuade homeowners to preserve historic structures seems to be the right approach.

And based on early results, it’s working. As of Tuesday’s village board meeting, 85 properties are on the Historically Significant Structures List. The village board also has approved 12 preservation incentive applications, and the preservation commission is set to review two more this month.

Every May, which is National Preservation Month, we’ve dedicated space in the paper to covering preservation issues. We’ve enjoyed running our Hinsdale Legacies series for several years each spring, taking you inside historic Hinsdale homes that have been lovingly preserved.

This year we decided to shake things up a bit and focus on the Robbins Park subdivision, one of two places in Hinsdale that has been deemed a National Register Historic District (the other is the historic downtown). The neighborhood has made headlines in recent years as prominent homes have been slated for demolition. Neighbors have objected to the loss of those homes and often to the new buildings that takes their place.

The first story in this year’s series, which ran last week, highlighted the number of homes that have been torn down in the Robbins Park historic district, including one designed by R. Harold Zook. If you missed it, you can read it on our website at http://www.thehinsdalean.com.

Today’s installment in “Robbins remade” is a photo page that shows four homes that have been torn down in the neighborhood and the new houses that have been built in their place.

Next week’s story will cover steps the village has added to the process for owners who want to tear down and rebuild a historic home or a home in a historic district.

The fourth story in the series will look at the home at 425 E. Eighth St., which originally was set to be torn down. Preservation commissioners initially refused to vote on a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition of the home and construction of a post-modern home in its place. The couple has decided to build elsewhere, and the new owner plans to preserve the 90-year-old Georgian Revival.

The final story this month will actually kick off another series that will follow Mimi Collins’ work to renovate a home previously owned by Dorothe Ernest at 4 E. Fifth St.

In addition to running stories on that home every month or so, we’ll continue to cover preservation issues in the village. We invite readers to stay tuned.