Polka-dotted house

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

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I came across this polka-dotted house on Pinterest and it just made me smile. I had to a do a bit of digging to learn more about it, but managed to find it in an April 14, 1952 issue of Life magazine. The house was the work of Emery Jernquist, who had painted his Warwick, RI house black, but then decided it looked too somber. Says the article:

He and his family painted the house black, then decorated its walls and white chimney with bright-colored polka dots—and it looked just fine. At first people were skeptical but, as he answered their questions politely, Jernquist conducted a private poll and came up with a confident statistic. Seventy-two percent of the critics, he says, like the dots just as much as he does.

Not sure I can vouch for Jernquist’s approach to research, but I’m definitely with the majority on this one. It’s a lovely reminder that what we find joyful is pretty much timeless, a reassuring thought. For more dots, which are ever on my mind these days, check out my pinboard devoted to them.

August 4th, 2012


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    Discussion (4 Comments)

  1. Micki Jernquist Pitchford on October 23, 2013

    This was my grandfather’s home. My grandfather painted each dot by hand. My mom lived there as a young child. Thanks for sharing the picture with others.

    1. Ingrid on November 23, 2013

      Micki, how wonderful! I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see your note.

      I’m curious how it affected your mom to grow up in a polka dotted house. Did she ever speak about it? I’d love to know how she feels it shaped her childhood.

  2. Mary on November 21, 2018

    Check out the heidelberg project! for more polka dot houses https://www.heidelberg.org/
    I just went to Detroit for the first time & got to see the Heidelberg residence (and retrospective) this year and it immediately evoked joy, similar to your Magic Mountains post, my friends & I & our driver all yelled in excitement upon driving up to the residence – I’m realizing now that it had so many of these qualities you’ve written about.
    I just discovered this blog and its brilliant! Can’t wait to get the book.

    1. Ingrid Fetell Lee on November 21, 2018

      Thank you, Mary! I haven’t been to the Heidelberg project but I really want to check it out. So glad you’re enjoying the blog, and I hope you enjoy the book as well!


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