The restaurant responsible for transforming historic landmarks has become one.
A beautiful McDonald’s might sound like a paradox, but one in Nassau, Long Island, was deemed so magnificent that it actually became a historic landmark, Insider reported.
Oft-dubbed America’s “most beautiful” McDonald’s, these gorgeous golden arches are housed in a grand, white mansion complete with a portico, a “Gone With The Wind”-esque double staircase and even a dining veranda with glass dividers to keep out the noises and smells of the neighboring Jericho Turnpike.
When the site first opened, the owner said that he wanted “to put tablecloths and little battery-operated candles on the tables on Friday and Saturday nights” so young people could use it as a date spot. Newlyweds have even staged wedding pictures there.
But this upscale outlet didn’t go throwback for kicks. The palatial McMansion was built in 1795 as a farmhouse for Joseph Denton, a descendent of one of the founders of the town of Hempstead, New York.
It has since served multiple functions over the years — including as a funeral home and several restaurants — before falling into disrepair in the late 1900s, according to Atlas Obscura.
The dilapidated building was subsequently bought by the McDonald’s corporation around 1985, which planned to bulldoze it so they could erect a McD’s outlet in its place.
“When we took over this building, it was a disaster, a real eyesore,” said McDonald’s New York regional vice president at the time. “There were pigeons all over. We had to gut the building, take it down to the rafters.”
That, however, did not sit well with the town’s residents, who campaigned for years to save the mansion, as it was one of the few historic buildings left in the neighborhood.
McDonald’s capitulated after preservationists designated the building a historic site in 1988. They enacted a multimillion-dollar campaign to restore the building in exchange for permission to construct a drive-thru.
The renovated fast-food eatery opened its doors its 1991, becoming the only franchise restaurant in the US to be housed in a fully restored building. And while this McDonald’s design might’ve differed from its rest-stop counterparts, a Newsday food critic at the time reportedly lauded the architecture while adding that its food is “exactly the same.”
Its historic landmark status means the chain can’t make significant changes — hence why the building looks almost exactly the same as it did 30 years ago. However, a 2017 modernization initiative gave the upmarket golden arches some new features, including self-order kiosks, digital menu boards and remodeled counters.