In 2011 I began photographing and shooting video of small homes in Decatur, Georgia’s, Oakhurst neighborhood being torn down, carted off to landfills, and replaced by McMansions. This blog curates those pictures and sounds collected between October 2011 and November 2014. The destruction of Oakhurst house by house and block by block is being done by developers who offer McMansions — homes two or three times larger than the ones torn down and two or three times larger than neighboring homes — described as “historically inspired” or that “fit in with the vintage neighborhood designs of the early 1900s.” One Decatur builder guarantees the “utmost consideration for the existing neighborhood” by building new homes that “always complement as well as enhance the streetscape.” Decatur’s builders demolish historically authentic small homes and build historically inspired McMansions in a land use regulatory environment enabled by the city’s exclusionary zoning policies and by a city indifferent to the environmental and social consequences of gentrification.
The posts in this blog typically pair photos from the 2009 citywide historic resources survey (City of Decatur) with images of homes being prepared for teardown; teardowns in progress; and, images of the faux Prairies, Hardieplank-clad foursquares, and plus-sized period revival homes built to replace them. Decatur sells itself to the world as a city with history that it respects and as a forward-thinking community determined to become sustainable in the 21st century. Its policies, however, are at odds with its official sales rhetoric.
Questions about this blog may be directed to:
Dr. David Rotenstein
All material unless otherwise indicated is © D.S. Rotenstein. All rights reserved. Photos from the Decatur Historic Resource Survey are attributed to the City of Decatur (2009 Citywide Historic Resources Survey).
This site was created in 2012 and was updated through November 2014.