May 25, 2012

Modest Levittown capes and ranches still rule among the McMansions

Marilyn Monsrud Frese's neighbor's big house on Furrow Lane

click on photos to enlarge


Class of 1963

I must tell you that although some homes are gigantic, most in Levittown are not. You can still see those little ranches and capes inside of modest expansions. But knowing some people who do own these big houses (one of those posted above is my neighbors' across the street on Furrow Lane), their desire to own a larger home had them looking at other towns, ones with larger plots of land.

However, their desire to stay in Levittown, for a multitude of reasons, led them instead to expand their little capes and ranches rather than moving out of town.

My husband Don and I also looked at other homes about 10 years ago when he began thinking of retirement, but the feeling we have for Levittown, along with a block of wonderful neighbors, kept us here. We ended up pushing the back of the house out, along with extending the garage in the back to make more room for his three motorcycles.

We also made the extended rooms with cathedral ceilings. The high ceilings made the room so bright and open and we have nine-foot tall glass windows and doors across the back of the room which sort of brings the outside in. We still have only one bathroom for the two of us. If we managed with one bathroom while the kids grew up here, we can surely manage with one now.

From the front of our house, you cannot see the expansion at all. People walk in and are surprised to see so much room. We still have our fireplace between the kitchen and living room, as most of the ranches do. I don't know of any homes that still have the black tile floors and the radiant heat in them or their oil tanks still buried in the front lawns. That is long gone. Those warm floors on a cold morning were great though, remember that? No cold feet. We could go barefoot all year in the house. Yes, the small Levitt homes still rule the streets of Levittown.


Leslie Sands Bell

Class of 1968

Marilyn, it sounds like your extension is tasteful and kept your house looking like your house, unlike the others. If I were to ever move back to Levittown, I'd be looking for a simple house, one that retains the look across the front with surprises in the back and/or inside.

I do have a deep appreciation of your love for that wonderful town and your neighbors. I think that the changes are harder to see for those of us who've moved away, and didn't have a chance to adjust with the times as the years went by and you continued to live there. We did move to a much bigger house in East Meadow and it was not a good experience.

I missed everything about Levittown, but I was a kid and had to go with my parents, although I begged to live with my mother's best friend and her daughter who was my best friend until graduation.


Dave Cahn, early Levittowner. Around here (Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC), we call these McMansions. Although they appear nice in well-cropped photos, they are too big for their lots and look ridiculous in real life. They scream of new money poorly spent. We're not in Levittown any more, Toto!


Photos by Marilyn Monsrud Frese

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apparently there are no architects plying their trade in Levittown—only builders with some standard dormers and no sense of proportion!

Rick DeMeis '63