It turns out there's a lot of love for Winter Park's 128-year-old Capen House after all.
Though love alone may not save it.
After I wrote this week about how the historic house is set to be demolished, I got a call from Nicole Curtis a.k.a "The Rehab Addict" of HGTV and DIY Network fame. She specializes in restoring old homes before the bulldozer gets them.
Curtis wanted to offer her services — free of charge — to the new owners of the home. She wants to see whether they could come up with a plan that would keep the home standing.
"I want to make people aware there are usually a million different options other than demolitions," she told me.
Good news, right?
No word yet on whether the owners, who bought the property on Lake Osceola in March for $2 million, are interested in talking with Curtis.
John and Betsy Pokorny have applied for a demolition permit, and the property could be razed as early as mid-June.
Although it may be too late to save the Capen House, Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley said Thursday he wants the city to re-evaluate the way it grants demolition permits.
Now that is good news.
"I believe we should spend time reviewing our entire demolition process," Bradley said.
He has also asked the city manager and the city attorney to review the permit for the Capen House.
But, just as important, the city may come up with some rules that in the future save houses with historic value from the wrecking ball.
Other cities have stricter rules. Coral Gables, for example, requires that all demolitions be evaluated by its historic preservation department.
In Winter Park about one out of every eight homes in the city has been demolished during the past 20 years.
That's more than 1,000 homes.
Were they all worth saving? Absolutely not. I'd even bet that most weren't.
But were homes of historical significance lost because no one bothered to check? I'm willing to bet that happened, too.
There are at least three homes in Winter Park that date to the 1880s — the Capen House was built in 1885 — that are not on the local historic register.
The Capen House was on the register and would have been protected from demolition, but SunTrust foreclosed on the property and last year persuaded the City Commission to strip the home of its historic designation.
A city like Winter Park, which claims to cherish historical charm and character, should take a little more care to preserve what makes it special.
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