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Williamsburg's Love of Vinyl Now Extends to Houses?

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When the Landmarks Preservation Commission started extending protections to post-war white brick buildings, some wondered what reviled design trend would be the next to gain cred after years of mockery. Hey, how about vinyl siding? Christine Haughney's Appraisal column today introduces us to Lewis Canfield, a Williamsburg jack of all trades who now dabbles in real estate. He's the neighborhood's chief proponent of vinyl-sided homes (which must make him Miss Heather's Public Enemy #1), which he sees as a lasting link to the neighborhood's past during this era of turbo-gentrification:

He likes neatly lined siding, siding blazed by the sun until a patina forms, siding intended to look like wooden shingles and traditional designs that try to approximate George Washington’s Mount Vernon. To Mr. Canfield, replacing vinyl siding that is in good shape, as some homebuyers do as soon as they have the deed, is like carelessly restoring antiques that came over on the Mayflower. He views vinyl siding facades as the key to preserving Williamsburg’s working-class traditions, which arguably has become its own facade.

"It's not the most beautiful thing, but it's real," he said. "It's authentic. It's tied to the history of the neighborhood."

Will Williamsburg/Greenpoint's vinyl siding ever get the respect of Park Slope's brownstone or Brooklyn Heights's brick? Probably not, and that's the point, at least according to a client of Canfield's who bought the part-vinyl, part-cement-board house at 45 Powers Street. He says of the more prestigious neighborhoods: "To me, it's more of a, like, bourgeois town over there. Williamsburg feels more like a neighborhood, a little less stately, more flavor." He paid $1.3 million, which must make the house the most valuable slab of vinyl that doesn't contain an early recording of Elvis.
· For One Real Estate Investor, Vinyl Siding Never Lost Its Shine [NYT]