I don’t know why, but every city, no matter how big, has some insanely stacked dictator-looking McMansion somewhere outside the city limits. If you sort your Zillow results as Price: High - Low, this house will pop up first. It costs something like $5,000,000. It is 10,000 square feet. There are usually frescos and tawdry gildedness of some variety. The realtor’s text brags of marble and uses the word “Manor.”
Today, our house, squarely in this category, is found in the suburbs of Milwaukee, WI, not really a place known for unhinged 21st century robber barons. In fact, I find Wisconsin to be one of the least McMansion-dense states in the country. Even the guy who invented Culvers or the Milwaukee Bucks probably has a much less insane house than the one I’m about to show you:
Built in 1999 (owing to what kind of economic event outside of perhaps the dot-com bubble, I’m not sure), this house is indeed around $5 million and 10,000 square feet. I am not sure how much of the square footage includes the garage. Anyway, if you told me this house was from Wisconsin, I would not have believed you. Illinois, maybe, the DC area, maybe, California, maybe, Texas, most likely. But no. It is in Milwaukee and it is the one house in the surrounding area that looks like this and costs this much.
In typical local-magnate fashion, the house opens up with white and gilding. This is how you know the people who live there are really rich and have Made It. All the McMansion signifiers are present: chopsticks machine, lawyer foyer, puzzling and dull art, always in imitation of something architecturally undefined but possibly French.
In an attempt to not be too off-putting (indeed, having a ceiling full of religious symbolism seems a bit overzealous even if its purpose is to scream “I HAVE MEDICI-LEVEL AMOUNTS OF MONEY”), the house is furnished, well, normally. It cannot decide whether it wants to sell (it will never sell) or if it wants to lean into being an eccentric millionaire’s house. This is very cowardly.
Perhaps the decorative thought process comes from a desire to elevate the ordinary into the realm of the sublime. Sure, let’s go with that and not the fact that obscenely rich people are uniquely obsessed with French Rococo aesthetics because they long for a time when democracy wasn’t real.
On the other hand, I guess you don’t really need a functional kitchen if you never have to work a day in your life!
One thing that strikes me about extremely rich people is sometimes they don’t know how ordinary people live and function and in this case, design a bathroom. Hence, they are one clogged toilet away from carpet replacement. Imagine living life on the edge like that.
“I wish to lie awake and stare wistfully into copies of my visage.” - things totally normal people would say.
Everyone needs to have one chinoiserie room in their house - it’s part of being a global citizen. Also I appreciate the effort of turning six acres in Wisconsin into Versailles 2. That’s a worthy endeavor because $6 million dollars goes half as far in California. You might be able to buy a shrub for that much.
Finally, we reach the rear of the house, which is, well, phallic:
Obviously this is paying homage to the vernacular forms of the grain silo. Or something.
Happy New Year.