Overcooked Homes of Witchcraft Heights. IV. Federal Longings.

To refresh, an Overcooked Home has been defined on this blog as a subcategory of McMansion House, a tract house “birthed as a conventional and modest split-level or raised ranch that has been expanded and added onto and rebuilt and rejiggered so that it graduates to McMansion status, ostentatious and tacky and soulless.”

A McMansion is not just a big house. A McMansion is distinguished from an ordinary Mansion by poor craftsmanship (“built big and … built cheap“), by a mish-mosh of architectural styles pasted together (“… a chaotic mix of individual styles”), and by failure to engage with the streetscape or landscape (“dominates rather than accentuates the environment”). Architectural principles like symmetry and balance and rhythm are excluded altogether.

Overcooked homes are especially common in the Witchcraft Heights neighborhood behind Gallows Hill, and non-existent elsewhere in Salem, for reasons speculated upon before. Previous examples were unquestionably ugly, little thought given to style or symmetry. Today’s example seems more demure, but close examination shows violations tilting it towards McMansion staus.

3 Gallows Circle

What began as a modest colonial has been expanded with a large extension out into the side of the lot (and another extension out the back not visible in Google StreetView). At first glance it would seem to have been birthed as a raised ranch, what with the massive too-big-by-half entry stairway (a minor quibble), but the front door at a level with the first floor, not between floors, marks it as suburban colonial.

There is symmetry and balance throughout the front facade, no windows off-centered as in previous examples, entryway prominant not invisible, roof lines and styles match. So far does not qualify as an Overcooked Home.

However, there are displeasing incongruities. Note the small paned sash windows throughout, meant as an homage to Federal style so prevalent in older parts of Salem. There is distressing inconsistency in their usage, as note six-over-six double, six-over-six single, eight-over-eight, even twelve-over-twelve (over the garage) sash windows. Even windows that should be functional and not stylish, the basement windows (three-over-three), and almost hilariously the garage door slit windows (three-over-three with arches), make the effort.

Now these cannot be real Federal style sash windows. They must be double-glazed sash windows that mimic traditional style using plastic muntins glued to the glass surface, giving the appearance of many smaller panes when each sash contains only one large double-glazed unit. At least give credit to trying to follow traditional style, though execution fails.

Staying with the windows, there are shutters only on the side extension, not on any windows on the main facade. What’s up with that? Tradition Colonial style requires shutters. Construction budget exceeded?

It takes a while to catch on, but the siding on the main facade, wide plank, clashes with the thin plank siding on the side extension and on the side walls. Did ya think nobody would notice? Again, construction budget exceeded?

So overall rating, not two thumbs down 👎👎 as with previous examples here of Overcooked Homes of Witchcraft Heights, but certainly not two thumbs up 👍👍 either. One of each 👍👎.