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The Literal Hell of McMansions

A couple of months ago, we introduced you to the blog McMansion Hell, which now goes by the name Worst of McMansions. The blogger is an architect who explains the various sins of McMansion design and how they offend our sense of proportion, balance, flow, and continuity. The descriptions of these houses reminded Colin Dickey of something much earlier: haunted houses. Long before the term “McMansion” was coined, we already had plenty of haunted houses described in literature. In book after book, the authors describe houses that seem eerie because they lack order or harmony.    

The archetypal American haunted house has always been one whose construction was aesthetically unbalanced. Take one of the most famous American haunted houses, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house of the seven gables. Defined by its “seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst,” the house is the ill-gotten gains of Colonel Pyncheon, who accuses his neighbor Matthew Maule of witchcraft in order to acquire his land. There is no order or symmetry to the house; indeed, it’s not even clear where the front of the house is, since it lacks any kind of façade or welcoming front door. The titular, odd-numbered gables poke out in different directions, overwhelming the house with secondary masses and voids. A McMansion 150 years before the term was invented, Hawthorne’s creation set the template for a house that exemplifies wealth without class, ostentation without order.

That’s just the beginning of the comparisons of famous haunted houses and McMansions, and even includes a modern horror story built around a McMansion, that you can read about at Slate.  -via Digg

(Image credit: John Martz)


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