Well, I figured it out.
Why I’ve visited hundreds of towns big and small over the years, am glad to have been, yet have no urge to return and always liked coming back here.
It’s the details.
Everywhere you look in 49740, the eye is intrigued.
Harbor Springs could be – if it wanted – the poster child for New Urbanism.
Here’s the list:
Walkable streets, check. Town center, check. A variety of houses serving a variety of incomes, check. Porches out front, garages out back, live/work spaces available, guest rentals, local grocery, quality services nearby… check, check and check!
AND, spectacular local vernacular!
I think it’s because homeowners make their design choices based on practical, human influences and needs…
“Swell cement wall but I’ll make it sweller so I don’t have to look at it so much… ”
“Your box hedge is nice but my box hedge is a star!”
Unlike towns of similar vintage that have become static, dormant, some even dying as homes and yards go neglected beyond repair, 49740 continues to evolve with new houses going up and fresh landscape being planted and cared for.
For me, it is the personal expression that ices the cake.
Hooray for homeowners who make the world more beautiful!
But it’s the through threads that make all these individual touches work… corbels, divided light windows, Carpenter Gothic scrollwork, handmade fences, stone walls, strong subtle colors, an abundance of white, traditional Michigan iron oxide red or chrome green asphalt roofs…
And everybody pretty much starts with the same plain, white window box, but some boxes are sophisticated, others delightful.
Yup. 49740 is visually very satisfying
Back 170 or so years, American landscape architect and building designer Andrew Jackson Downing philosophized that, “A good house will lead to a good civilization.”
Maybe that’s one reason why when you walk down most any 49740 street, passersby say in a very civilized way…