Whitney Gould, the Urban Design columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, has another piece on the controvery surrounding the former home of artist Mary Nohl.
The traffic Mary's place generated seemed to be an issue for two or three of the immediate neighbors even in the early '70s, but not for anyone past the bend in the road where it turns back south from the westward jog at Mary's. Still, those people were fairly annoyed.
Moving the house off of it's lakefront lot, as some have suggested, would be a shame, but leaving all that outdoor art outdoors is already a major conservation problem- just look at the cracks in the screen of cement faces in one of the accompanying photos
. I suspect that whatever Kohler Foundation does to preserve in place, it will be a losing battle with the weather. Putting it inside might allow long term preservation, but would mightily alter the experience.
I doubt that anybody will be happy with whatever resolution is chosen. I grew up down the road, and have the impression that my contemporaries were comfortable with the house, but at least a few parents -Mary's generation- thought it was an eyesore. Still, Americans in those days respected other property owners' right to do with their property as they saw fit. That day is pretty much passed, even where the property doesn't generate externalities like traffic.
Just look at the micromanaging in condo communities: we have changed from a nation of people who respect other people's right to do as they please on their own property to self-righteously denying that right even in minutia. The condo communities dictate the color of your house, the design of your landscaping, what kind of vehicle you can park even temporarily outdoors (NO to motor homes- unlike Mary's neighbors two houses south on Willits Lane who kept one in the yard for years). They prohibit certain species of trees, garage sales, leaving your garage door open even when it doesn't face the street- which is also prohibited. The list is endless.
Whether one likes those rules or not, they are a spreading fact of life as mortgage lenders -and construction lenders- require them. We have already turned into a nation which believes in ordering our neighbors around. It is a very different country from the 1950s and 1960s. I think the difference in attitude toward one's neighbors has been a largely un-remarked revolution. It isn't the widely remarked upon gates on the communities which make the difference: it is the sense of entitlement to control your neighbor, and their right to control you.
Labels: condos, Mary Nohl, property rights