Sunday, May 8, 2011

3 Fresh Morningside Teardowns

I'm joining and thanking Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday.

I don't know how you feel about these things. My personal preference is to have a brand new house with all the modern conveniences ... in a package that looks old and classy, lived in and lovable.

Anyway, I don't know how you feel about teardowns. I take them on a case by case basis and hope for the best.

I've caught 3 teardowns early in the process. These are in Atlanta's Morningside / Lenox Park neighborhood.

Here is teardown #1.

This is the elevation that's in the permit box. It's compact with nice grounded roof-lines, three stories that don't look like 3 stories. The gables, arches, stonework, and curvy roof-lines are in keeping I think. Good lentils. Dovecotes are a bit rare around here.

This is the old house.

They've saved the garage for now. Is this lot impossibly small? They'll squeeze in everything a modern bank loan will require for our neighborhood. Who needs a lot of lawn when you can walk to Georges?

The is the second's "before" picture.

It's the one on the left.

It's been rather down in the mouth for a good while. It was well proportioned. It was close to the sidewalk and the level front yard made it quite welcoming, easily passing the Architecture Tourist Grandma-Mailbox Test.

It didn't have a solid re-do as many did in the 80's or 90's. Deaths without wills, out of town owners often leave houses unloved or abandoned for years. Who knows about this one?

It's neighbors are looking good though.


I saw the plans by Rutledge Alcock Architects but I couldn't get a shot of the elevation. I liked it, kind of a craftsman revival. It will certainly pack in the square footage. The lot slopes down so there is room for a garage and daylight terrace level below the street.

Teardown number 3 is in Lenox Park, on a hill. Lenox park is north of Morningide, east of Lenox Road, south Cheshire Bridge. The 3/4 acre on a hill has the feeling of a little estate.

It's was from 1952. Was the wing an addition?

I didn't see the elevations on this one. There is plenty of room for a whopper.

Berkshire Heppner_ Crook_ Shutze_ Harrison Map
Many Lenox Park houses have a pedigree.

Dare I ask your position on teardowns?

I'm joining and thanking Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday.


  1. Terry, I agree that sometimes it is a good thing. But it is really a cryin' shame when what is built back is big and ugly.

  2. Hello Terry:
    It wasn't until we read into the post that it became clear to us what a 'teardown' was [or is] as it is a word not used here.

    Generally we much prefer old houses and feel it is a great pity when those which are sound, and of some architectural merit, are pulled down. However, many of the buildings of the 1960s and 1970s are, in our view, completely lacking in distinction and it is good, therefore, when they are replaced with something of better quality.

  3. I take tear downs on a case by case basis too - and agree with Jane and Lance that many of the homes built in the 50s-70s really lack distinction and are often perched on beautiful lots.

    One silver lining of the housing slowdown is that the phenomenon of the builder spec house seems to be rare these days, as it is so much more reasonable to buy an existing home than build a home. Most tear downs I have seen are owned by an individual who has hired a builder to do a house. Not saying that the results are always better, but in most cases they are.

    I wonder if these are spec houses or if they are owned by an individual? Looking forward to the progress pictures.

  4. In my neighborhood owners, speculators, and architects do pretty good. The least interesting, useful, lovable houses are the first to go. I hope that we keep architecture details that could only be done by the wealthy today. Keeping old floor plans, bathrooms, and closets: not so much.

    None of these have a for sale sign yet. I think they are all significant improvements.

  5. Terry, Much as I love old houses I agree with all the above. Just because it's old doesn't mean it's good. The rendering of the first house is really nice. Those dovecotes--umm,umm. Thanks for the neighborhood update:)

  6. Couldn't agree more with everyone's sentiments so far. The one good thing these days is that most teardowns aren't for spec houses. I have to say that (for the most part) many spec houses are as bad as what they replace. Expensive and large yes, but seriously lacking in architectural integrity.

    I've only notice house #2 as it's on a regular riding right and I know the folks that live the house to the left.

    Hoping for good things...

  7. James, the plans are in the permit box. Your buds should check them out.

  8. Generally love them - if they are done with taste and scale! :) Since I live in one I have to say I approve...

  9. Having come from 5 years of working on a historical commission in PA, my own take is that any teardown is unnecessary, unless the house is beyond repair. Usually meaning no one wants to spend the money on preservation, even with a historic district in place.

    Historic structures are green in the best way - even old windows can be repaired, although it's a contentious topic and mostly misunderstood.

    Preservation is what keeps the integrity of a neighborhood intact.
    However, the plan for the first house looks as though the builder/developer is at least conscientious about historic value.

    The Decatur Old House Fair recently had a wonderful seminar on the 'Iconic Ranch' - those homes from the 50's to 70's that most folks dismiss.

  10. I hurts me to see something of character or architectural interest torn down. I generally think even the most uninteresting (#3) can be something special if the right design is applied - but it does take some good bones. But, what I find the most distasteful is when the replacement is oversized, out of scale and just plain wrong for the lot!

  11. I am opposed to tear-downs, and then I saw that last home - which I would tear down with my own hands, if necessary. I guess the question is: how do you define which homes can be torn down and which are historic? The Brady Bunch house is just ugly -but might be considered historic by someone in their 20's. Hmmmm..... Lookind forward to seeing the "after" photos. And I guess this much construction is a sign that the economy is coming back around?

  12. There are plenty of non-teardown upgrades happening around here too.

    If it's happening in your own neighborhood I think it's a good sign for the neighborhood. There are plenty of places where there is no building at all.

  13. I am not opposed to Tear Downs in general, despite being a preservationist. But the new house has to be better than the old one. Many times the old house could be improved at less expense than new construction with the results being better for the neighborhood.

    To answer the question for House #3, my guess is that there was a large carport or garage on the left that was converted into living space. The two level part on the right follows the 1950s - 60s split level trend.

  14. Everything has its day; however, living as I do on a 1/4 acre plot in Morningside, I do not like how larger, newer houses seem to be a bit uncomfortable on our rather small lots. Many of our houses were a double driveway apart on the spacious side and sometimes less than two feet apart on the other side.


Blog Archive