Nearly a century of history appears at risk as an unusual enclave of historic, tudor-style homes is facing demolition at the hands of a bordering BP oil refinery.
Demolition of several buildings in the historic Marktown district of East Chicago, Indiana, began Monday.
The district, known for homes and narrow streets that recall a somewhat rundown village in rural England, is home to about 200 buildings. According to the Marktown Historic District's website, it was first built in 1917 by Clayton Mark to provide housing for workers at his nearby steel mill and other area factories.
The streets are so narrow that residents park their cars on the sidewalks and walk on the streets.
The town was designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and all the homes originally built as part of the town were still standing. Until now.
Although Marktown was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, BP is going forward with a plan to demolish several Marktown buildings it has purchased with the intention of expanding the green space surrounding its Whiting refinery -- as well as adding another parking lot.
In an interview with WBEZ, BP spokesman Scott Dean defended the company's demolition plans because all of the buildings are privately-owned, telling the station the buildings' owners "have a right to sell their properties."
Any future demolitions have not yet been scheduled. Still, some Marktown residents wishing to continue the district's legacy fear their neighbors will begin to feel pressured to sell once some of the buildings face the wrecking ball. Ten buildings, all of which were vacant, were slated to be demolished Monday, WBEZ noted. Among them was the former site of the Marktown Hotel.
"They can’t make people leave," longtime Marktown resident Kim Rodriguez told the Chicago Sun-Times last month. "BP is waiting for the last homeowner to sell. How dare they try to take it away from us? And it angers me they can do what they want to people."
Below, photo evidence of the pastel-hued real-life storybook land -- or what once was a real-life storybook land: