Will Hillebrenner, an engineer who has been painstakingly restoring his World War I-era bungalow, is one of many Oakwood residents who believe the historic development commission failed to stick to its own standards.
"The guidelines clearly state that any home, any new construction in the historic district should blend in and not stand out," he says. "And a home whose very intent is a living piece of art is intended to stand out."
Mary Iverson, who owns four historic homes in the neighborhood, says the Cherry house is beautiful, but it doesn't belong in Oakwood.
"That is a leap of 100 years of design architecture," she says. "So that's not an evolution. That's a, 'So let's go to another planet.'"
Gene Conti — whose 1875 Victorian was in the path of the proposed highway — likes the modern house, but hates what this fight is doing to Oakwood.
"I think it's been unfortunate ... to have this kind of acrimony all across the neighborhood and have people arguing one side or the other in a very mean-spirited way," he says. "Oakwood is a historic neighborhood by designation. But it doesn't mean all the houses are frozen in time."
Gordon and Cherry say what's happening to them is a violation of Oakwood's spirit.
"I mean, you can't build an old home," Cherry said as he stood beside piles of planks and bricks waiting for construction. "Forty years of preservation wisdom show that building copycat homes diminishes the value of historic homes. It doesn't really honor them."
"And it creates a Disneyland kind of community," says Gordon, "which is NOT what Oakwood is."
City Attorney Thomas McCormick announced this week that he would appeal the adjustment board's decision in Wake County Superior Court "because of concerns about procedural irregularities."