Would You Live Here?Kelly Wickham
I have something to say about a slice of Americana: I want a piece. Before I get into that, let me assure you that I’m not unhappy with my home. In fact, it’s the nicest, most well laid-out home I have ever lived in, and I chose it specifically for that purpose. On my laundry list of things I wanted in a house I put things that were previously in opposition to something to either drove me crazy in another house or put things that I liked about places I’ve lived. The former was a much longer list. Here are a few of the things that I wanted:
- a 2-story home with the washer and dryer on the second level (because who wants to drag all those dirty-then-clean clothes up flights of stairs when it could be close to where you actually get dressed)
- a large kitchen where an open floor plan would accommodate the living space as well
- a master bedroom with an en suite bathroom
As luck would have it, I found that perfect house and I enjoy it thoroughly. There were things that weren’t an absolute necessity like a Jacuzzi tub in the master bath that still made this choice that much better, but generally speaking I needed a bedroom that I would like spending time in and a living space that made family time comfortable. My neighborhood gets high marks for getting voted Best Neighborhood in our local independent newspaper, and we are close to all the things we want. Even our neighbors are lovely people. If I had one complaint that would make it more appealing I would want a close-knit community that made it possible to walk to restaurants for those lazy summer evenings where you can visit shops along the way. Basically, I would want a walking community.
Yesterday, I actually stumbled upon one while I was out on a drive with The Cuban. We determined that, with an empty house for once, we wanted to be out of it and go exploring. “Take me on an adventure!” I declared after our coffee together. So, he did. We ended up in Missouri, which is only about 90 miles away from home, and happened upon New Town, a community about 7 years old.
Talk about your slice of Americana! New Town, very near to St. Louis, is a planned community called “new urbanism” that is a revival of the lost art of walkable communities designed to envelope a plan with a variety of houses as well as businesses. And, yes, it’s just like the movie The Truman Show depicts. The new urbanism community in Seaside, Florida was the setting for that movie and New Town is based on that.
I’ll be honest: it was a hot, muggy day and I didn’t feel like walking around in a place that oddly seemed like a ghost town since very few residents were out and about. In fact, I remarked several times that it was a little “creepy” even though the few people we met were amiable. Naturally, The Cuban and I kept making jokes about similarities to The Truman Show, but in the end we visited the office and met with a sales agent who even showed us one of the open houses. But, let me be honest about this, too: we daydreamed about moving there and living in a community that was close-knit even if the houses were extremely close to one another. The business district was closed by the time we got around to it and there was a restaurant that had been repossessed by the bank and we dreamed aloud about buying it and opening up, well, something. Could it be a breakfast place or maybe we could serve tapas? Maybe it could be a sandwich shop for the locals needing some lunch? There were endless possibilities and we tried to come up with all of them on our walk through the town.
The biggest difference, it seemed, between Seaside and New Town is diversity. This is a deal breaker for us and when I searched the Seaside website it was all white. We asked the agent for the demographics of New Town even though we saw some diversity for ourselves. She said about 10% Asian and 10% were Black and we actually saw that in the few people who were roaming about yesterday. The perfect blend is going to be hard to define, but I do want a mixed population of ethnicity, religion, and age ranges in which to live. I suppose the perfect community wouldn’t have a majority anything. We didn’t see any Buddhist or Jewish temples or even a B’hai faith presence and those are things that I grew up with that I still want as part of my community. In fact, we only saw 2 churches and having no other kinds of faith buildings concerns me as much as other kinds of diversity.
Would you want to live in a place like this? Does it seem weird to want a slice of that Americana that once existed in the United States? Or am I just too deep into this pipe dream to see it?
Check out the slideshow below to view some of the pictures we took.
Perfect Americana 1 of 11One of the lovely homes we saw. There were lots of wraparound porches and they all seemed to welcome us.
Beatniks 2 of 11This shop is closed now (of some concern), but it would make a perfectly awesome place to open a book shop, wouldn't it?
Generic Church 3 of 11The spires on the top of this church are what we saw from the road that beckoned us to New Town. There aren't even identifying signs on it, but it sure was pretty.
Empty Corner Shop 4 of 11This empty space made me dream of what it could be. Art shops? A salon? A place to buy yarn?
Ice Cream Patio 5 of 11These tiny shops were all over, and this is the patio where you can sit and enjoy your ice cream cone. Lovely space.
Post Office 6 of 11When your post office is just titled as "Mail" you know you're in a simple town, but it was perfectly quaint to see this.
Organic Farm 7 of 11The community farm rents plots to families or you can just purchase your vegetables directly from them. A sign with a phone number on it lets you order from the parking lot.
Phone Booth 8 of 11I watch too much "Dr. Who" because this looked weird in red and not blue. It had a working pay phone in it.
Pretty Blue House 9 of 11Many homes looked like this and I loved the second story porch. I would have to put my coffeemaker upstairs to take it outside in the morning.
Rhythm Music Studio 10 of 11The music studio had a grand piano inside and had advertisements all over town. But do you see what I mean about the "ghost town" feel?
Tiny Shops 11 of 11This is another set of empty and ready-to-be-leased shops. The crunchy leaves on the ground in July did confuse me a bit. What on earth could this be used for?
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