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:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

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

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2020

The Old Normal

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Out of Africa

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Waiting for the End of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Harm’s Way

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Fifth Step

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A View to a Krill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Old Normal·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

Article
Waiting for the End of the World·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1.

A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he.

I rose long before dawn, too thrilled to sleep, and set off to find my tribe. North from Greenville in the dark, past towns with names like Sans Souci and Travelers Rest, over the border into North Carolina, through land so choked by kudzu that the overgrown trees in the dark looked like great creatures petrified in mid-flight. The weirdness of this scene would, by the end of the weekend, show itself to be appropriate: my trip would be all about romanticism, and romanticism is a human collision with place that results, as Baudelaire put it, “neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in a way of feeling.” My rental car’s engine whined as it climbed the mountains. Day was just breaking when I nosed down a hill to Orchard Lake Campground, where tents were still being erected in the dimness.

Article
The Fifth Step·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Harold Jamieson, once chief engineer of New York City’s sanitation department, enjoyed retirement. He knew from his small circle of friends that some didn’t, so he considered himself lucky. He had an acre of garden in Queens that he shared with several like-minded horticulturists, he had discovered Netflix, and he was making inroads in the books he’d always meant to read. He still missed his wife—a victim of breast cancer five years previous—but aside from that persistent ache, his life was quite full. Before rising every morning, he reminded himself to enjoy the day. At sixty-eight, he liked to think he had a fair amount of road left, but there was no denying it had begun to narrow.

The best part of those days—assuming it wasn’t raining, snowing, or too cold—was the nine-block walk to Central Park after breakfast. Although he carried a cell phone and used an electronic tablet (had grown dependent on it, in fact), he still preferred the print version of the Times. In the park, he would settle on his favorite bench and spend an hour with it, reading the sections back to front, telling himself he was progressing from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Article
Out of Africa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

1. In 2014, Deepti Gurdasani, a genetic epidemiologist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in England, coauthored a paper in Nature on human genetic variation in Africa, from which this image is taken. A recent study had found that DNA from people of European descent made up 96 percent of genetic samples worldwide, reflecting the historical tendency among scientists and doctors to view the male, European body as a global archetype. “There wasn’t very much data available from Africa at all,” Gurdasani told me. To help rectify the imbalance, her research team collected samples from eighteen African ethnolinguistic groups across the continent—such as the Kalenjin of Uganda and the Oromo of Ethiopia—most of whom had not previously been included in genomic research. They analyzed the data using an admixture algorithm, which visualizes the statistical genetic differences among groups by representing them as color clusters. The top chart shows genetic differences among the sampled African populations, in increasing degrees of granularity from top to bottom, and the bottom chart shows how they compare with ethnic groups in the rest of the world. The areas where the colors mix and overlap imply that groups commingled. The Yoruba, for instance, show remarkable homogeneity—their column is almost entirely green and purple—while the Kalenjin seem to have associated with many populations across the continent.

Article
In Harm’s Way·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ten yards was the nearest we could get to the river. Any closer and the smell was too much to bear. The water was a milky gray color, as if mixed with ashes, and the passage of floating trash was ceaseless. Plastic bags and bottles, coffee lids, yogurt cups, flip-flops, and sodden stuffed animals drifted past, coated in yellow scum. Amid the old tires and mattresses dumped on the riverbank, mounds of rank green weeds gave refuge to birds and grasshoppers, which didn’t seem bothered by the fecal stench.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

The commissioner of CPB admitted that “leadership just got a little overzealous” when detaining hundreds of U.S. citizens of Iranian descent in the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Jesus Plus Nothing

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

Subscribe Today