Preservationists gone wild, chain-link fence edition

At The Atlantic, Megan McCardle quotes from a Washington Post article on homeowners who ran afoul of Old Town Alexandria preservationists when they replaced a chain-link fence on their property:

As the historic preservation staff wrote in its recommendation: “While many feel that [chain-link] fences have negative connotations, this material has played an important role in the development of mid-century vernacular housing and their cultural landscape. . . . By eradicating this ‘simple fencing solution,’ the applicant would be removing an important contextual clue to the original occupants of this neighborhood.”

McCardle comments:

But the preservationists now seem to be saying that people have to keep their “historic” homes looking dreary and utilitarian so that the rest of us can get a kick out of looking at the houses and ruminating on how charmingly plebeian the original occupants were. I didn’t think that the elements of privilege and classism already inherent in these historic preservation districts could be made more obnoxious, but boy, was I wrong.

It’s tempting, but I’ll refrain from suggesting what would be important contextual clues to the original occupants of various Chicago neighborhoods.

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