There are several strange and unique McDonald's in the United States, including a colonial-themed locale in Independence, Ohio; a river boat restaurant on the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri; and a brightly lit Golden Arches in the middle of Times Square. However, the most unusual McDonald's location on U.S. soil can be found in New Hyde Park, New York, where the franchise opened its doors in a gorgeous Georgian mansion that dates back to 1795.
Before one can fault the corporate giant for opening a restaurant in a historical landmark, it must first be noted that this mansion -- known by locals as the Denton House -- was abandoned and on the verge of collapse before McDonald's purchased the property in the 1980s.
Residents Save the Property
The Denton House was built in the late 1700s as a farm house. In the mid-1800s, the property was renovated, and it later saw commercial use as a funeral home. When McDonald's stepped in to purchase the property in 1985, New Hyde Park residents were upset at the idea that the franchise was coming to town with plans of tearing the building down.
Residents pleaded their case to local politicians to grant landmark status to the Denton House, which would mean that McDonald's wouldn't be allowed to take the building down.
In the end, New Hyde Park residents got their wish to preserve the historical spot, and McDonald's had no other option but to restore the property to its former glory.
McDonald's opened its New Hyde Park location in the early 1990s, and the spot remains immaculate to this day. The exterior has been renovated to appear as it did in the 1920s, and the interior features gorgeous artistry and top-notch seating.
Locals Still Divided
Over 20 years have passed since McDonald's opened its doors in New Hyde Park, and some residents still have mixed feelings about a corporate giant coming to town to do business in one of their most beautiful buildings.
25-year-old Glen Head, New York, resident Joe Caraccio, a self-described dream fulfiller who grew up enjoying McDonald's hamburgers at the New Hyde Park location, drives an extra 15 minutes from the McDonald's closest to his home to visit the Denton House eatery.
"It is really awesome that McDonald's managed to bring people a product they wanted without having to destroy a landmark that people loved," Caraccio said. "It's probably the most beautiful McDonald's in the United States."
On the other side of the spectrum is Krystin Demand, a 25-year-old Sea Cliff, New York, resident who thinks McDonald's should have never come to do business in a quaint community like New Hyde Park, especially at a landmark like the Denton House.
"I think it's a shame that something like the Denton House could be replaced by a commercial place of business that already has massive amounts of locations. It's unnecessary," Demand said. "If anything, they should have opened a White Castle. There aren't as many of those, and sliders are so tasty."
After close to a quarter-century of doing business at the Denton House in New Hyde Park, though, McDonald's seems to be getting along just fine with the local community, and residents who originally had a problem with the franchise being there have made the proper adjustments to get by.
"It's easy to get caught up in the politics of it all," said Ralph Scena, a New Hyde Park McDonald's regular. "But when it comes right down to it, Happy Meals are just a bit happier when enjoyed in a beautiful Georgian mansion."
Eric Holden, a lifelong Long Island resident, is a regular customer at the New Hyde Park McDonald's location, where he orders French fries with a side of Coca-Cola and a cheeseburger. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
- New Hyde Park