Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 21, 2014

Modern home divides historic Southern neighborhood

(Continued)

"The structure as proposed is incongruous to the Oakwood Historic District," wrote Wiesner, whose own home was built in 2008. "It will harm the character of the neighborhood and contribute to erosion of the neighborhood's value as an asset to its residents, to the surrounding communities, to the businesses it supports, to in-town and out-of-town visitors, and to the City as a whole."

Carved out of the dense woods known as Mordecai Grove following the Civil War, Oakwood is an eclectic mix of 19th and early 20th century architectural styles — from ornate Italianate mansions and mansard-roofed Victorians, to quaint bungalows and brightly-painted shotgun houses. The historic district was created in the 1970s, when residents banded together to stop a proposed highway that would have cut through the neighborhood's heart.

Now, instead of a thoroughfare, this modern house divides Oakwood.

Last month, the city's Board of Adjustment voted 3-2 to overturn the certificate of appropriateness. The panel sent word to city hall to issue a "stop work" order.

Word soon spread beyond Oakwood's borders. In early March, "Oakwood Modern House" launched its own Twitter account, which has nearly 700 followers.

"Nails hurt. But no love hurts worse," read one tweet.

"Why does that ugly green house keep staring at me? Stop it," went another.

Another phony Twitter account surfaced, bearing Wiesner's photo and mocking her as "a square peg ... opposed to round pegs." It has since been taken down.

In an op-ed piece published in the Raleigh News & Observer, Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina, called the Oakwood controversy "one of the most disturbing of my 35-year career in historic preservation. Neighbors have been pitted against neighbors, and false rumors and innuendo have filled social media."

Howard and others say the Cherry house is part of Oakwood's architectural evolution.

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