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Posted at 10:17 AM ET, 09/24/2010

Battle over historic home in Kensington

By Washington Post editors

Efforts to demolish a burned out home in Kensington are running into opposition from area preservation groups who say the 19th-Century Queen Anne structure is unique and should be saved, The Gazette reports.

The historic structure, condemned following an electrical fire in May 2007 that killed its occupants, Osker Reynolds, 88, and his wife Patricia, 84, is owned by their estate and maintained by their son, David Reynolds. He has been trying to obtain a permit to demolish it since July 2009, saying the 19th-century Queen Anne cannot be restored to former glory.

At a Wednesday hearing before the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission, the Reynolds' request was deferred after a straw poll found that a 6-2 majority intended to rule against their request to bring the building down.

The demolition application sites an estimate on repairing the home to "pre-fire conditions" will cost $977,736 whereas tearing it down is estimated at $77,352.

The house was described by Helen Wilkes — a Prospect Street resident and president of the Kensington Land Trust, a nonprofit that aims to preserve the town's historic characteristics — as a "smelly, mold-filled, rugged infested blight on the neighborhood" who testified at the hearing that she and other neighbors "just want to see it gone."

"What was once a significant and beautiful historic resources that exemplified the best of Kensington's historic past is now instead an ugly and tragic reminder to us all of the loss," she said.

In a July 2009 letter to the HPC, Julia O'Malley, president of the Kensington Historical Society, requested "the house be restored if possible or rebuilt on the same foundation on the same parcel of land, maintaining the historical pattern of rhythm and spacing on Baltimore Street."

Read more about this story in The Gazette.

By Washington Post editors  | September 24, 2010; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  Maryland  
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Maybe these historic preservation do-gooders should buy the house and renovate it with their own money if it is such a treasure.

Posted by: buffysummers | September 24, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

And this is why I chose not to be a Historic Preservationist, because they can't rationalize what's ideal with the costs involved. Otherwise the town should buy it and restore it if that's what they really want. Otherwise the current homeowners should be allowed to demolish and whatever gets built should fit in with the neighborhood.

Posted by: amprice16 | September 24, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

We have a similar situation in my MoCo neighborhood. The residents died, the children are trying to sell it to a developer...and in the meantime it is deteriorating and is a blight in our neighborhood. A group of neighbors is attempting to have it designated as historical and then hoping someone will rescue it. At least for me it's a block away so I don't have to see it on a regular basis.

Posted by: DecafDrinker | September 24, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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