Greek Revival gives way to gaudy revulsion
Landlord pulls a reverse "Slater" on his beautiful hometown
By Walter Brooks
When the world heard yesterday about Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater, most people cheered because his dramatic "in-your-face" put down of a rude passenger resonated in hearts as a well deserved, final straw action. And when he deployed the plane's emergency slide and slid down chugging a beer, most cheered again.
But quite the opposite is the reaction of the neighbors in Chatham when landlord Hilary Foulkes painted the magnificent Greek Revival "Old Village Gallery" a trio of raucous colors including pea green, lime green, and citrus yellow this week after the town wouldn't allow renovations in the building.
We understand Foulkes' distress after paying $1.9 million for the building and being denied permission to move it back six feet and to renovate it for a better commercial use. They also wanted to add a dormer to the half-Cape portion aside the main structure to make the area liveable. After all, they offer the space the Chatham's Ohio University Players musicians when the need arises, and they continue to give local Chatham artists the gallery space for a nounce.
As my daughter-in-law Julie who is from Chattanooga, TN reminds me, New England is about the only place in the world where folks feel they have the right to control the condition of their neighbor's yards.
The Foulkes' intention was to restore a masterpiece to its original beauty, even adding a widow's walk which was atop the building according to a story written by protestor Norm Pacun for the Chatham Historical Society a few years ago, plans the Foulkes hoped to follow.
So I can understand the "Slater moment" when the landlord hit upon the thought to deface the beautiful structure in retaliation.
An impasse where no one is the winner - A modest proposal
The way things stand now, everyone loses. The fussy neighbors get to keep the building where it's been for a century and a half, and the Foulkes get to deface their own property.
So when everyone calms down, can we hope saner minds will prevail?
How about the leaders of the protest stepping up to the plate and telling Hilary Foulkes they were wrong in interfering with his business, especially in these tough economic times, and offering to petition the town to allow the building's move and even offer to go halves for a new paint job.
White this time because the former Calico Cat now vies with Shop Therapy in Provincetown as Cape Cod's most bizarre bazaar.