Sunday, August 29, 2010

The bees are back!

The Speas bees, of course. The blog is happy that a local elementary school is enthusiastically embracing its traditional mascot. The "mess" referred to is unfinished construction.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Historic estate for sale

On the market for 3.9 million, but Zillow estimates that you should only have to pay 2.8 million to own 7980 Valleyview Drive in Clemmons. This property, which last sold for $625,000 in 2006 appears to have undergone substantial renovation in preparation for returning to the market. The house was completed in 1928 to serve as the country estate of R.E. Lasater, director and then Vice President of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company from 1912 until his retirement in 1947. This property is therefore the equivalent of Reynolda House and Graylyn, both in time of construction and source of the fortune required to build.

Here's what the Prudential agent says:

Superbly Renovated Forsyth Co. Landmark! Built For Tobacco Executive, R.E. Lasater, This Historical Treasure Is An Architectural Gem. Top Quality Materials, Beautiful Workmanship, & The Newest Technology Have Combined To Restore This 1920's Country Estate To An Elegant Residence. Designed By Charles Barton Keen During The Era Of Reynolda House & Graylyn, This Gracious Home & 20 Acres Overlooking The Yadkin River Convey The Character & Charm Of Yesteryear Along W/Every Contemporary Convenience.

Another historic house

Or not. The blog was fooled, too. This house was built in 2007 in Clemmons as part of the now stalled Fair Oaks development. Call it the anti-McMansion.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

McMansions by moonlight

Aren't they lovely?

The blog is back! Some, but not much new construction in the Brookberry Farm development, first visited by the blog last summer. Do McMansions have a future? Some commentators think not: . It's even been speculated that the McMansions of today are the tenement slums of tomorrow. The blog finds Christopher Leinberger's vision so compelling that it will forthwith insert a longer quotation than usual.

The experience of cities during the 1950s through the ’80s suggests that the fate of many single-family homes on the metropolitan fringes will be resale, at rock-bottom prices, to lower-income families—and in all likelihood, eventual conversion to apartments.

This future is not likely to wear well on suburban housing. Many of the inner-city neighborhoods that began their decline in the 1960s consisted of sturdily built, turn-of-the-century row houses, tough enough to withstand being broken up into apartments, and requiring relatively little upkeep. By comparison, modern suburban houses, even high-end McMansions, are cheaply built. Hollow doors and wallboard are less durable than solid-oak doors and lath-and-plaster walls. The plywood floors that lurk under wood veneers or carpeting tend to break up and warp as the glue that holds the wood together dries out; asphalt-shingle roofs typically need replacing after 10 years. Many recently built houses take what structural integrity they have from drywall—their thin wooden frames are too flimsy to hold the houses up.

As the residents of inner-city neighborhoods did before them, suburban homeowners will surely try to prevent the division of neighborhood houses into rental units, which would herald the arrival of the poor. And many will likely succeed, for a time. But eventually, the owners of these fringe houses will have to sell to someone, and they’re not likely to find many buyers; offers from would-be landlords will start to look better, and neighborhood restrictions will relax. Stopping a fundamental market shift by legislation or regulation is generally impossible.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Spanish brand in Winston-Salem

Susan has always been amused that this brand of bread, relatively new to her supermarket, is advertised by a pronunciation guide (Say Beembo!"). But pan Bimbo (featuring the same little bear) was a highly visible product in Spain this past summer. It turns out that Gruppo Bimbo is a Mexican baked goods juggernaut. The company holds the distinction of having introduced sliced bread to Spain (in 1964).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pre- and post-Roman

Rain, heat, and major league baseball (oh those night games) continue to keep the blog off the streets of Winston-Salem. Susan wanted to note that she saw almost no obelisks in Salamanca. Too many crosses? At any rate, the faceless bull is an ancient statue erected long before the Romans conquered Iberia (pre-Roman); the cross is a typical monument, found just across the street from the faceless bull (post-Roman).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New residence hall

The new South Residence Hall at Wake Forest University was dedicated on Monday afternoon. It fits right in on our relentlessly neo-Georgian campus, but has the distinction of being the first LEED-certified building on the campus (hooray!). Jon and other members of the capital planning committee toured the building in March, permitting the blog to offer a nice combination of in progress and "work completed on schedule" photos. The freshmen who will live in the dorm arrive today. Nate, it seems, thinks he should be one of them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Little blue awnings

Perhaps the weather is not hot and miserable at your current location...but the blog has been lying low, unable to generate any new photographs, and Susan is thinking about a building with little blue awnings she saw in Salamanca...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Without foreign travel... might be hard for Americans to realize how worn out and old-fashioned their country is. This is the ceiling of Terminal 4 at the Madrid Airport. It is spectacular both in terms of design and in the amount of natural light it provides to the terminal. Note to Abe, who is still worried about the Christmas crackers incident: this photograph was not taken until after we had passed through security into a public area.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not lost in translation

Salamanca August 2010.

Rough translation

It probably means "don't fall off the cathedral." The blog is back from Spain, but the weather has been too hot for walking.