That House Up the Street
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, teardowns ranked among the hottest crazes in the western suburbs. Smaller, older homes were demolished to construct what we refer to as starter mansions, or McMansions. Suburban lots were devoured with newer, larger homes with little, to no yards. Two of the communities that were hardest hit were Hinsdale and Elmhurst.
Like most things, the economic downturn of the last decade, brought the teardown craze to a crashing halt. Occasionally, you would see a house here and there, but it's no longer something that's noticeable on every single block.
When it came time to leave our townhouse in Lombard and purchase a regular home, we had our sites set upon Elmhurst. Both Susan and I had long histories with the city and knew we wanted to make it our home. We were able to discover the perfect house for us just before the real estate market tanked. From the start, our goal was to find an older home within an older neighborhood. We found just that. We are about five or six houses away from one of my favorite parks, Eldridge Park. We also enjoy that our block managed to survive with only one house falling victim to the teardown craze. But that, however, may be changing.
Back in early November, I noticed some orange construction fencing popped up around a tree in a yard on our side of the street, just a few houses north from us. The house, in fact, looks very similar to our own. There was a Hinsbrook Construction sign in the front yard. I looked up the company and found they specialize in building custom homes. They design exteriors and interiors. I instantly assumed they were putting on an addition, or redecorating the interior, or even installing an overhead sewer, which seems to be standard in all new homes.
And so it remained until last Thursday.
Thursday is garbage day in our part of Elmhurst. My Thursday mornings always seem rushed these days. I take a cycling class at Courts Plus from 5:45 to 6:30 a.m. I try to have the garbage ready and waiting in the garage on Wednesday night, then I'll drag it to the curb before or after class on Thursday. Last Thursday, after I returned from the gym, I was getting ready for work. Susan had already left because she had to catch a flight for a meeting in Houston. As I was ironing my shirt, I realized I forgot to take a bag of wine, beer, and root beer bottles from our holiday party out with the recycling. Just as the thought struck me, I heard a truck outside and it was close. It was also extremely early. Neither the garbage nor recycling arrives on our block until after I leave for work.
As I sprinted out of our house with recycling in hand, I noticed several trucks lined up in front of the house with the orange fencing. The demolition had already begun. They already punched a hole through the second story. My camera was in my coat pocket and I grabbed a few shots. A crowd of spectators had already assembled across the street. At that point, I could not determine if they were simply removing the second story for an addition, or taking the whole house down.
When I came home from work, it was dark outside, but it was clear that the entire house was gone. On Saturday morning, I walked as close I could and found that the foundation and driveway were gone, too.
Over the next several months, I'll be curious to see if a tasteful home springs up, or a 1990s monstrosity gobbles up the property.