The Wall Street Journal recently featured an anti-McMansion story that should have warmed the hearts of urbanists and new urbanists alike (at least at first glance). Well, I guess we all want to feel good about the home we buy and some are feeling a little beat up about that vinyl and 20% brick veneer behemoth they bought in 1993. Enter 7,000 square feet of real faux colonial charm.
And a lot has changed: subdivisions are now “settlements”, streets are now “lanes” and “naturalistic” landscaping for seven homes will run $10,000,000. It seems that “cul-de-sac” has been replaced by “lane” as well! Some of the developments are touted as having “working farms”. One can only wonder how long they will stay “working” once a dozen neighbors who paid $1M+ for their homes come to learn what a working farm smells like. And that first chip in the Mercedes S-Class from the “nonasphalt surface” “lane” isn’t going to make anyone happy.
The great illusion is the quest for authenticity of details. “Historical purity did require some small sacrifices: The couple wanted an overhang above the front door to keep guests out of the rain, but the builder and architect protested,” the story states. I believe it should have read, “historical purity did require some small sacrifices: The couple wanted 7,000 square feet and settled for 1,600. They also commute 40 miles each way by horse and buggy.”
I do applaud the details, charm and higher quality of the “new old” homes and perhaps this quality will result in the homes standing for longer than the typical subdivision home. And if someone chooses to spend more for copper-trimmed windows and use $400 per gallon paint, that’s their decision. We can only hope that the hypocrisy of it all makes them blush. If the numbers aren’t enough, the photos lay bare the absurdity of the “settlements”.