No Comment — March 30, 2008, 9:39 pm

The House that Karl Built

The Architectural Digest special issue on the homes of Karl Rove may still be a few years off. There will of course be plenty to cover. His home in the Texas Hill Country, which Rove still insists is his primary residence for voting purposes, and where Rove served his steadfast friend David Broder quail one fall evening. His house at 4925 Weaver Terrace, N.W.
in Washington, D.C. (assessed value, $1.6 million) which has been his actual primary residence for the last seven years. But then there is Karl’s resort home, located in Lower Alabama (the thin strip of Florida across the bay from Mobile), which just got its first media coverage.

Raw Story’s Lindsay Beyerstein and Larisa Alexandrovna recently made their way out to Rosemary Beach to check out the Rove vacation retreat, and posted a piece describing it.

Rosemary Beach, Florida bills itself as a vacation community, but Rove’s home is no beach bungalow. His Dill Lane pad is a 2,578-square-foot cedar and white stucco structure with a stoop, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and an outdoor shower. Opposite the main house, separated by a small walled courtyard, is a two-story carriage house with a two-car garage on the ground floor.

The setting is equally upscale. Rosemary Beach is a 107-acre development along a stretch of County Road 30A, between Destin and Panama City, Florida. The centrally planned community bills itself as a town. In fact it’s an exclusive real estate development in an unincorporated part of Walton County–although the developers have erected a “Town Hall.” All homes and businesses in Rosemary Beach are designed and laid out according to a master Town Plan. Marketing materials describe the architecture as “Pan-Caribbean.”

The development is close to Seaside, an architecturally innovative town with similar architectural vernacular that was featured in the movie “Truman.” Rove has spent large amounts of time in the area starting from 2002. He is active advising campaigns in the area, and particularly in Alabama.

Rove has deep roots in Alabama. In 1994 the Business Council of Alabama hired Rove as a consultant for a judicial campaign. Rove worked alongside Republican activist/lobbyist Bill Canary, now the CEO of the Business Counsel of Alabama, to help deliver Alabama’s Supreme Court to the Republicans. In 1998 Rove advised William Pryor in his successful bid for Alabama Attorney General. It was Pryor who would go on to certify the ballots for Baldwin County that would give Bob Riley the margin of victory in his bid to unseat Democratic Governor Don Siegelman.

Siegelman, who was jailed for bribery after a widely criticized political prosecution, was granted bond Thursday and is supposed to be released today.

Rove’s political ties to Alabama didn’t end when he joined George W. Bush’s administration as Deputy Chief of Staff. Rove continued to advise Alabama politicians, including Gov. Bob Riley, according to a Republican activist who recounted Rove’s four-year covert involvement in a campaign to neutralize Siegelman to Raw Story in November, 2007.

Rove’s client William Pryor, now a federal judge, and previously, as Alabama Attorney General, the man who initiated the criminal investigation upon which the Siegelman prosecution was developed. Rove’s close friend Bill Canary is the husband of Leura Canary, the U.S. Attorney who brought that prosecution. Canary nominally recused herself from it after ethics complaints were lodged. The matter was taken to trial by one of her staffers. Congress is preparing to subpoena Rove to get a sworn account of his dealings related to the Siegelman prosecution.

The Raw Story piece features a photo tour of the million-dollar Rove estate in Rosemary Beach. Here is some of the photospread reproduced courtesy of Lindsay Beyerstein and Larisa Alexandrovna:

rovecarriagehousedilllane rovebirdbath1

I asked Alexandrovna how they came by the pictures. Here’s her reply:

We got the photos on our way to Alabama. The city (Rosemary Beach) is not on any map and the house is nearly impossible to find. We had to ask locals how to get to Rosemary and once there, we found an obliging electrician working around the area to take us to Dill Street. We followed him. Dill Street is tiny, like an alley almost with few houses on it. Rove’s house is like a citadel (as you can see from the photos) with the carriage house directly off of Dill Street. The house proper is nearly impossible to see from the street and in order to get near it, one has to get onto Rove’s property itself. We did not want to trespass. So Lindsay and I decided to drive away, park, and go for a walk. We had to account for Lindsay’s very obvious camera.

We decided to present ourselves as sisters, who were house-hunting and wanted to take photos of the local architecture to get some ideas. We went to the house next door to Rove’s, introduced ourselves using our real names, but said we were these sisters who were house-hunting. We asked the neighbors for permission to take photos off of their property, but not of their property, which is why we have no photos of their residence. If we had taken photos of the neighbor’s residence, then we would have had to identify ourselves as reporters, which we were trying to avoid.

So, having obtained permission, we shot the pictures from the next door neighbor’s house, without having to trespass on Rove’s property. I talked to the neighbors and Lindsay took the photos of the fountain and front of the house proper.

As we were leaving, we noticed the sudden appearance of several golf cart type vehicles driving around Dill, parking around Dill, and one guy was on a walkie-talkie. We did not know if Rove still enjoyed secret service protection, but these guys did not look like your typical neighborhood security or repair types. Their hair was far too neatly groomed, they dressed in over-done “vacation-ware” and they wore dark, very dark tinted glasses.

As we were walking back to our car, we noticed one of these guys watching us and talking on his walkie-talkie. So I came up to him and asked him how I could get to the development’s sale office because I was interested in buying land. I may as well have said that I was from Mars, because his mouth literally fell open and he could not come up with directions. Now we don’t even know our way around, but even we knew where the sale’s office was. This guy working for the community could not come up with an answer? So is Rove getting secret service protection, paid for by the public? We could not get a straight answer out of anyone we contacted.

Anyway, that is how we got the pictures. By the way, the community is lovely and has a great little bookshop too. I wish we could have spent more time talking to the locals, but we had to get back on the road.

I will tell you this though, even in the short amount of time we spent there, it was obvious that Rove is not well liked in his own community. Now remember, this is a very Republican area and a very wealthy area. The entire place is filled with art galleries and antique shops. So in this very wealthy, Republican leaning community, no matter who we talked to, it was the same vehement anger. The most printable comment we got, was the one we published, the rest was so aggressive and filled with profanities, that we thought it best to leave those comments out. Suffice it to say, I have never seen anyone so unwelcome and unwanted in their own community.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2016

Save Our Public Universities

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Rogue Agency

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mad Magazines

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Killer Bunny in the Sky

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bird in a Cage

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Hidden Rivers of Brooklyn

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Save Our Public Universities·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whether and how we educate people is still a direct reflection of the degree of freedom we expect them to have, or want them to have.”
Photograph (crop) by Thomas Allen
Article
New Movies·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Force Awakens criticizes American imperialism while also celebrating the revolutionary spirit that founded this country. When the movie needs to bridge the two points of view, it shifts to aerial combat, a default setting that mirrors the war on terror all too well.”
Still © Lucasfilm
Article
Isn’t It Romantic?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“He had paid for much of her schooling, something he cannot help but mention, since the aftermath of any failed relationship brings an ungenerous and impossible impulse to claw back one’s misspent resources.”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
The Trouble with Iowa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It seems to defy reason that this anachronistic farm state — a demographic outlier, with no major cities and just 3 million people, nine out of ten of them white — should play such an outsized role in American politics.”
Photograph (detail) © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Article
Rule, Britannica·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is the strange magic of an arrangement of all the world’s knowledge in alphabetical order: any search for anything passes through things that have nothing in common with it but an initial letter.”
Artwork by Brian Dettmer. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W., New York City.

Number of people who attended the World Grits Festival, held in St. George, South Carolina, last spring:

60,000

The brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles.

In Peru, a 51-year-old activist became the first former sex worker to run for the national legislature. “I’m going to put order,” she said, “in that big brothel which is Congress.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Two Christmas Mornings of the Great War

By

Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.

Subscribe Today