These Walls, Talking: House Deemed Too Modern to Exist is Tweeting for Its Life

Spencer Peterson
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516%20Euclid%20St.jpg

Photo via Louis Cherry Architecture

Yesterday, closing arguments were presented in a case that will decide the fate of a home in Raleigh, North Carolina's historic Oakwood neighborhood, whose across-the-street neighbor has deemed it too modern to exist. Raleigh architect Louis Cherry was given the go-ahead to start building the cypress-clad two-story house last September, by the Raleigh Historic Development Commission, which approves designs for neighborhoods like Oakwood—where the architectural mix includes a lime-green shotgun house, a purple Victorian with gingerbread details, and vinyl-sided bungalows from the 1920s—based on a relatively loose set of design guidelines.

But the home's relatively modest look—referred to in a lot of local coverage as "modernist"—was too much for real estate agent Gail Wiesner, who appealed to the city's Board of Adjustment, which voted three to two that there had been "no rational basis" for approving the home, halting a construction process that was well underway. Beyond having troubling implications about what can happen to homes that have already been given the green light, as architecture critic Paul Goldberger put it, the decision essentially said that the dwelling "destroys the illusion that the neighborhood is a place in which time has stopped."

With its fate now in the hands of superior court judge Elaine Bushfan, the little contemporary that could is carrying on with a hobby that's pretty popular among those caught up in farcical court battles: tweeting about it.

According to Goldberger, the tweets have been coming from "someone sympathetic to the plight of the house," known neither to Cherry nor his wife, Marsha Gordon. Tweeted about in an "if these walls could talk" style, the home has taken on a personality of its own. For example, it takes Lana Del Rey lyrics to heart.

Same goes for movie titles.

It's a home that is keenly aware of how awkward it is living across the street from someone who wants to destroy you.

And well aware of the ironies at work here.

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Rendering via Louis Cherry Architecture

Sometimes Oakwood Modern gets depressed.

Other times a bit existential.

But mostly it snarks.

Oakwood Modern has been known to get pretty fired up on occasion.

And have flashes of "I woke up like this"-level confidence.

Still, there are times when it yearns for acceptance.

Despite being a house, Oakwood Modern has the same concerns a lot of us do.

And even though its fate is still up in the air, the house is trying to live a little, which is healthy.

At a time of great uncertainty, Oakwood Modern is still making plans for the future. Snarky plans, of course.

· Hearing begins for "modernist" North Carolina home threatened with demolition [Archinect]