…or is it extreme demolition: national tv style? Doesn’t “makeover” imply working with what is existing, enhancing it and polishing it? Wasn’t the original concept of the show to expand and remodel? When was the decision made that wholesale demolition of the existing home, and replacement with a mega-house, was the best way to serve the family? Aren’t we as a nation making a push towards greener lifestyles, less waste, reduced carbon foot prints, etc.?
These are just a few of the questions that go through my mind when I see a cover story about a 150 year old farm house falling victim to this television show.
This is the home. Now, maybe there is a mold problem that I’m not aware of. Maybe the roof is shot and the foundation is on its last legs. Maybe the house has become a death trap and it is literally unsafe for the family to remain. It sure doesn’t look that way to me. The only mention that I could find in over 50 articles on this process is that the “150-year-old house [is] showing its age.” Per this same article (click here) it is the homeowner’s dream to have the house demolished to make way for a “small boxing gym to help more kids in need.” Is the house really standing in the way of this dream? Can’t a building be constructed on the grounds? As someone who literally dreams of one day owning a 150 year old home I simply can’t identify. The preservationist in me cringes and wants to approach the producers with a master plan for the home that can see it sensitively rehabbed. The environmentalist in me wants to point out that they are demolishing a perfectly good building, sending how much waste into the landfill needlessly. At the very least salvage the windows, fixtures, anything that can be reused. How about letting Habitat for Humanity have the kitchen cabinets? And I won’t even get into the social and economical implications of the often far our-of-scale-with-the-rest-of-the-neighborhood houses that are constructed in 7 days. Isn’t one of the recipients of an Extreme Makeover house going through a foreclosure?
It appears that in the case the house that is being constructed does have some relation to the architectural history and era of significance of the town. Sort of.
So, lets just say that this is not my favorite television show.
posted by Rebecca Rowe, Preservation Program Coordinator for The Landmark Society.