A Very Interesting Row House: The Dennis Severs’ House

Dennis Severs House façade, 2010, photographed from Folgate Street - source: wikipedia commons
Dennis Severs House façade, 2010, photographed from Folgate Street – source: wikipedia commons

I had quite the row house odyssey last night. I was collecting pins for the RowHouse Magazine Pinterest board (http://www.pinterest.com/bklynwebgrrl/rowhouse-magazine/) and came across this pin (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/29062360069384852/) about the Dennis Severs’s row, or terraced, house in the Spitalfields neighborhood of London, UK.

If you haven’t visited my Pinterest board, please do. I often clip interesting row houses there that I just don’t get a chance to write about here.

Anyway, back to the Severs’ row house. Dennis Severs was an American, born in the 20th Century who decided that he no longer wanted to live in 1970s America. So he moved to a Georgian row house in London and proceeded to retrofit the home to look like it was a family home from the period, ranging from the mid-1700s to 1800s. It’s a beautiful house, built around 1724.

Severs’ approach is unique. He completely immersed himself in history, forsaking indoor plumbing and electricity. The rooms are not so much a museum as more frozen in time. There are fires in the fireplace, half-eaten food on the plates, and mussed-up bed sheets. Walking through the home is far more intimate than walking through any other museum, even living museums like Williamsburg, where they clean up the place before you get there. This home is not perfect, not period-accurate but it seems more real than any other place because it captures the feeling on many sensory levels.

One day, I will go to London and I’m totally putting this place on my list of things to see. It is probably the best historic row house tourist attraction in existence. Meanwhile, here is a video that shows the home and explains what Severs had in mind.

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