Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What is a "Domus Aurea" and why have you called your house renovation blog after it?

Domus Aurea is a reference to Nero's grand villa he built at public expense in downtown Rome after he annexed the burned out city center. The decor relied heavily on gold leaf, hence the name. The ceilings were studded with precious and semi-precious stones. The walls were covered in ivory or frescoes. There was a large man-made lake and fountains flowing in and around it. It had nearly 300 rooms, but what their exact use was remains a mystery. It was rumored that Nero was running a brothel out of the place to help finance it, but this is rumor and not supported by historical documents.

Nero believed himself to be quite the actor and athlete. He was also something of a brute, committing fratricide, matricide, and spouse-icide. He participated in the Olympic Games as a charioteer and nearly managed to kill himself in an accident. The judges awarded him first place anyway. Just before he committed suicide, he is said to have muttered "What an artist dies with me!"

So, why did I name my house after such a place of decadence and debauchery? Well, once you step inside, the reasons become quite obvious.

Can you see all the gold in that place? I have affectionately dubbed it the "Porn Palace" which only heightens the comparison.

The resemblance does not stop there. Out front we have these two views:

Please note the fountain and man-made lake.

Also, note the varied style of architecture. From what the neighbor has told me, this little loop was built by a man named Cosby who got rich in WWI by selling scrap back to the government. After the war, he and his wife toured Europe and fell in love with the variety of houses. They returned and built these houses representing all the different styles they saw in Europe. This loop he called the "Keyhole" as it was on the western edge of the city and looks out over Byrd Park. Apparently, he lost his fortune when the stock market collapsed in 1929 and committed suicide. His wife moved out of the corner house and into one deeper in the loop. Two pairs of houses have been occupied by twin siblings. In one they even cut out doorways in order to be able to access each other from the inside. I can't wait to learn more history as we go along.

No comments:

Post a Comment