Now entering its terminal stage, the cancerous war on historic structures continues its relentless advance. The number of old buildings which have already been forever lost is mind-numbing and there is no end in sight. The accelerated removal of our historic infrastructure, whether by neglect, over-zealous code enforcement, people intent upon building new at a specific site or address, scripted societal upheaval, societal collapse, unnatural weather events, homeowners cluelessly parroting contrived trends popularized on TV, arson or any of a multitude of other contributing factors, is truly horrifying. This Halloween we only need to look at a few real-life examples of “death by a thousand cuts” for a really good scare! Sadly, the examples below are painfully common and far outnumber valiant preservation efforts. Unless noted otherwise, the following are all from 2023. Links in the captions point to news articles with more information.

An historic house in Pacific Grove, California, burned earlier this year and was razed in August. According to officials, the cause of the fire “may never be known”. Photo credit: Molly Gibbs – Monterey Herald

A house dating to the 1790’s burns in Connecticut. Photo credit: Olivia Drake

Though previously suffering a mid-century towerectomy, this courthouse still retained a lot of character until encountering the wrecking ball in April.

The victim of arson, this 117-year-old church building was destroyed in Portland, Oregon, earlier this year. Photo credit: Dennis Weis

Though this building, a former mental institution, was demolished in 2010 I decided to include it here because the image is so disturbing. I took photos of the exterior about 20 years ago and remember how the building was both beautiful and intensely creepy simultaneously. RIP building and former inhabitants. Photo credit: Topeka Capital-Journal

The oldest house on Maui was built in Lahaina in 1834. Until burning in the recent fires which ravaged the historic former capital city it served as a museum. Fortunately plans to restore it and other significant historic structures are underway. “Before” images can be seen here.

Fire consumes an historic museum building and its contents in Decatur, Texas, earlier this year. The fire is presumed to be arson.

Gentrification in Action! Before and after in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Photo credit: Ward Miller / Mack Liederman

This video is only 31 seconds in length. The house was destroyed for a Popeye’s restaurant in Webb City, Missouri in July.

This historic mid-19th century structure in Mobile, Alabama, was the victim of arson as it awaited a planned restoration. Photo credit: Margaret Kates/

Tampa, Florida. “Cause condos. Photo credit: Chip Weiner

Well, I think that’s enough of that for now. Here’s a tiny ray of hope for those of you now thoroughly depressed… The Miracle House:

Shockingly unscathed in the aftermath of the Lahaina fires. the “Miracle House” survives. Photo credit: Kevin Fujii/Civil Beat/2023

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