P.J. O'Rourke for The Wall Street Journal: A Home Renovation by Frank Lloyd Wrong

October 24th, 2013

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The Wall Street Journal
by P.J. O’Rourke
October 24, 2013

We love our 18th-century New England house the way we love our children. Love can never be fully explained. But the kids are cute and do what they’re supposed to do most of the time. The house is completely inexplicable.

It’s roomy and has a magnificent view. “Roomy,” when describing an 18th-century house, means there are all sorts of rooms nobody uses because they’re freezing in the winter, stifling in the summer, too far away up creepy old staircases and harbor mice. These are the rooms with the magnificent view. We live in the kitchen and the back parlor where the TV is.

And “magnificent view” is another way of saying a house is badly sited, exposed to all of New England’s wide repertory of terrible weather. No sane 18th-century Yankee would build a house facing windward on the slope of a ridge where rain runs down into the cellar from one side and snow piles up to the eaves on the other.

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