I was mighty perturbed to read the March 13 Arts & Living article “Missed opportunities” praising modernist architect Harwell Hamilton Harris.
That villain moved here in 1962 and soon began work on the “State Capital Plan,” which called for the demolition of 157 acres of historic buildings north of the Capitol, including my neighborhood, Historic Oakwood. The plan called for offices, parking lots, grass and a freeway; it was adopted by the state in 1965.
The tide of demolition reached Oakwood in 1970. We lost 31 historic houses, then fought like hell until 1974, when the freeway was canceled.
The neighborhood west of us, older and finer than Oakwood, was mostly demolished and replaced by the useless empty “Halifax Mall.”
Equally execrable is Harris’ house on Cox Street. The “box on Cox” has no windows facing the street. The screens on the back porch begin 10 feet above ground, like a prison yard. The large side windows were originally frosted glass. A later owner installed clear glass so he could see the outside world! The wooden structure was built too close to the ground and was soon eaten up by termites. The stucco failed and had to be replaced by plastic imitation stucco.
Historian, Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood