Modernism-Hating Neighbor Sues to Halt Home Construction

Allison Arieff tells the sordid tale of a "modestly modernist" house in Oakwood, a historic district in Raleigh, North Carolina. Despite the fully permitted house being 85 percent complete, a lawsuit by a neighbor could force its demolition.
Cali4beach / Flickr

In examining the example of the lawsuit over the construction, and subsequent legal controversy, of a modernist house in a historic neighborhood in Raleigh, Arieff, writing for the New York Times, asks a troubling question: "should a difference in taste lead to a court date?

The back story:

"In September, Louis Cherry, an architect here, received a building permit and the necessary approvals to begin constructing a house for himself and his wife, Marsha Gordon, on an empty lot in Oakwood, a historic district in Raleigh. The neighborhood features a variety of architectural styles, from postwar bungalows to Greek Revivals, shotguns to Queen Annes. Construction began in October and the home, modern but modestly so, is nearly complete."

However, "[through] a series of protracted appeals, the neighbor has been successful in getting the city to reverse its approval of Mr. Cherry’s permit. The house passed its building inspections and is 85 percent complete, yet sits empty, its future dependent on who finally wins a legal battle that never should have been allowed to happen."

The implications of the case include a loss of individual freedom for the making of one's home, but Arieff also discusses the implications (read: "black eye") of the court case for the preferred methods of historic preservation. For the record, Preservation North Carolina has publically opposed the lawsuit.

Full Story: Don’t Like Your Neighbors’ House? Sue Them.

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