Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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McMansions and McTastes

Is there a rule for when a house qualifies for the “McMansion” label? That pejorative was flying around City Council chambers last night as folks debated the fate of 1108 Winchester St. (Today’s story didn’t make the Web, so no link. You’ll have to buy the paper.)

If the city tears down the house and does nothing else, local architect Raymond Herlong said the 3,051-square-foot lot would be “a prime site for a McMansion.” And as we all know, “One McMansion begets more McMansions,” he said. (I must have missed that day in health class.)

Gerald Stokes, who lives near the house, said he’s sick and tired of looking at it, but there is something that scares him more.

“Until you guys get your act together and pass an ordinance that would ensure that a McMansion couldn’t be there, I can put up with it for another six or eight months,” he said.

Bea Paolucci said that with a BZA variance on the cleared lot, “It will be a McMansion.”

Apparently you don’t need a two-story atrium, two-plus-car garage or an address in suburban sprawl to earn this moniker, because folks in Fredericksburg have been using it to describe infill homes that are built on small city lots, many of them with the same square footage as a suburban townhome.

In the eyes of their critics, they may be “Mc-” — as in generic-looking and different from their surroundings. But are they really “Mansions?”