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In this era of growing wealth and prosperity, “McMansions” are all the rage, and even middle class homebuyers crave larger spaces like two-story entries and modern conveniences like second-floor laundries. As a result, Colonial Homes, a Hearst magazine founded nearly 30 years ago at the time of the American Bicentennial, must have found itself in an increasingly anachrononistic position in the marketplace.
Most of its early subscribers have grown old, while most younger old-house lovers have gravitated to do-it-yourself publications modeled after This Old House and Martha Stewart Living. Last year, Colonial Homes added the subtitle, “Classic American Style,” and placed it prominently on the covers of its newstand version, probably in an attempt to broaden its readership. My husband and I looked at such moves as a likely abandonment of colonial homeowners like us, in favor of becoming a general interest lifestyle magazine. Well, the jury’s still out on our initial fears, but I have to say, although they’ve dropped colonial from the name, the magazine still features form and decorating of the classical styles that most Americans associate with antique homes.
Maybe it really doesn’t matter when a house was built, but that “classic” American buildings of any age really do feel like what we all think of as home. If this is the case, it is our hope that Classic American Homes can broaden the community of readers who appreciate colonial buildings. This Friday’s Wall Street Journal (3/17/00) featured a story indicating that the “big house” trend may be peaking, as buyers shift their attention to the coziness and warmth of homes that come with period detail. It may be that the new Classic American Homes is just the right magazine for a new generation of those who love old house style, after all.