They don’t have much to work with, the River Forest Historical Preservation Commission, but they took up their small cudgel last week in trying to leverage some benefit in the battle over 747 William St.

The house, historically significant as part of a planned block of modest Prairie-style homes, is officially toast. It will be demolished. The question now is whether the commission’s offer to speed the date of demolition — from April if the developer will design a replacement that hits certain design marks — will provide incentive.

Build a replacement using the same materials, at the same scale, and demolition can come early and save the developer time and money. Cough up a McMansion? Then no demolition until April. 

It’s not much of a weapon but you work with the puny tools the Historic Preservation Ordinance allows. As Al Popowits, a commission member says in a One View today, it is long past time for the community to decide if playing charades on preservation is a worthy game. We’ve lost interest in pretend preservation. Give the commission power — say 18 months of delay on demolition of a significant home — or just stop pretending that historic preservation is an essential value of this village.

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