Cruelly Tossing History Into The Dumpster

I have done numerous posts about FABULOUS houses being brutalized by new owners. Original kitchens, for example, which I would kill for have been torn out and replaced with Home Depot crap. Varnished trim has been painted white. Gorgeous mantels have been replaced with plain slabs of marble.

You know what I mean.

Yet, this kind of architectural and historic travesty is actually celebrated on HGTV and in This Old House magazine.

When I see such work I think: Are people insane? Why would anybody want to replace something of high quality, something interesting, something historic, and something unique with something cheaply made and generic?

Even more surreal is when a new owner tears out work which was just restored by the previous owner!

Case in point?

In 2015, the fabulous Kelly of Old House Dreams posted a church which had been converted into a house. I commented, in part:

This is the best church conversion into a residence that I have ever seen. The owners should be congratulated for their rare sensitivity in retaining the fabulous Great Space, other historic features, and spatial elements.

The structure was sold.

Ominously however, the new owners shortly thereafter chopped down the trees surrounding the building. Huh? WHY?

Then a bad storm damaged the roof, which caused some leaking.

The new owners took this, it seems, as an excuse to ravage the gorgeously done interior. So, rather than repair the minor damage the interior was inexplicably vandalized.

The images below will prove that I am not just being overly sensitive.


The couple who restored the structure went to great lengths to respect its distinctive original and historic features. In one area, there were incredible bead-board doors which pulled down (like a tambour desk) to create small Sunday School rooms. The couple carefully respected these unique doors and…


…artfully inserted a kitchen into the space.


This is how things were…


…and how things are now. The new owners ripped out and discarded the FABULOUS triple tambour doors! Why? Why? Why? They also ripped out all the gorgeous custom-made cabinets! Why? Why? Why? They also ripped out the exquisite original wood floor! Why? Why? Why?


And this was the living space, the former sanctuary. Now, prepare to gasp…


…because WTF? WTF? WHAT THE FUCK???????? The owners have claimed that all this was necessitated by some minor water damage. Oh? This horror is the epitome of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


By way of contrast, the 1890 Charnley-Norwood House was essentially destroyed by the storm surge of hurricane Katrina, when the house was lifted off its foundation and dumped onto the ground. Yet, miraculously, this CATASTROPHIC damage was…


…undone. The historic integrity of the structure was respected and resurrected.







  1. on August 5, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    Yours, mine, and every other old house restorers ultimate nightmare. I’ve lived it once, and hopefully never again!

  2. Jason J on August 5, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    That is the oddest thing! The place was near perfect and the roof looked near new. I can’t understand how they would have gotten such a leak, to see the need for this? I also can’t under stand what they are doing and or why? All that plaster work was in fantastic shape…Are they using the excuse of “not energy efficient”? It was already open concept…yeah a few things may have been oddly laid out…but a total bare bones gut? I am with you there…WHY???

  3. Sandra Lee on August 6, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Inexplicable! Only explanation would be total insanity! To destroy a perfectly restored structure that had been a sanctuary turned living space is just plain lunacy. The new owners are certifiable lunatics & another explanation is the need to destroy rather than enhance or restore. There can be no other explanation. This is so disturbing.????

    • Eric Unhinged on August 6, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      I’m no psychiatrist, but your observation that a possible motivation might be “the need to destroy rather than enhance or restore” genuinely resonates with me. I just can’t comprehend any of it.

      I do appreciate the compassion shown by you and all others who are as appalled by this as we are. And thank you, Ross, for giving this tragedy the visibility it deserves.

      • Sandra Lee on August 6, 2017 at 6:51 pm

        Thanks Eric. It was very kind of you to reply to my response. I too am very appreciative of Ross bringing this travesty & others like it, to our attention. I also am not a psychiatrist but the nihilistic and destructive mayhem is truly emblematic of the type of inidividual that would slash a Monet or Rubens or smash The Pieta or David just for the hell of it. It is visceral, sickening and beyond the pale.

  4. glenn on August 10, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Why? Because people are cheap and stupid, that’s why.

  5. knothere2day on August 16, 2017 at 7:43 am

    that is finger breaking offenses

    • knothere2day on August 16, 2017 at 7:51 am

      Just kidding kinda, what I mean is build a reproduction if you are going to tear it up that bad. My boyfriend and I had this argument a few weeks ago about very old historical homes (Squire homes in fact I was daydreaming lol), I told him that if we were ever to get an old home that he would painstakingly restore it to its former glory for me in every way possible and not make any structural changes. He does home remodeling and has worked on just about everything so this is not a huge bratty request of me to ask him its a battle of the wills right now if and when we do end up buying an old home. I WILL HAVE MY OWN TO LOVE AND NURTURE ONE DAY! LOL

  6. Troy S Walker on September 17, 2017 at 12:48 am

    Eric. This is Troy. You gave my wife, Joy, and I a tour of 100 North York in January of 2016. I experienced a work of art. Heart and soul was completely pored into all the magnificent reproduction of the original architecture. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. I am so sorry I didn’t have a way to finance the buying of the property when I saw it. There was so much life given back to the church. I’m so sorry it was destroyed.

    • Eric Unhinged on September 22, 2017 at 8:59 am

      Thanks, Troy. Life throws us some real curveballs at times. I’m glad that you and Joy were able to see the place before the new owners gutted it and hope that you have found the perfect old house.

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