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Why I Gave my House a Name.

Avenue House. The sign isn’t up yet but my house has a name.

I was concerned that some people might find the idea of giving a house a name either somewhat odd or slightly pompous. Odd if you don’t know me, pompous if you do. Even though I knew others would like the unique sound of it, would adopt it and then would make me happy when they used it in second-person, declarative sentences - naming the house wasn’t about me.

It has to do with the restorative quality of names, with the relationship names have with the things themselves. It is as though a name creates an aura that demands acknowledgement, animating the thing. It’s about tackling our first renovation in this century home and making it our own and wanting to complete the creation by giving our house a name. Naming a house has a romantic appeal.

Ours is the first of a block and a half of homes built in succession about 100 years ago, all with similar architecture but of divergent sizes. Ours is not the biggest of the porch-bedazzled, shrubbery-ensconced dwellings, but will be counted among the rest once I figure out a way to clean the soot from the neighborhood-matching red brick. I hope the “Avenue House” plaque I put up on the outside wall will advertise a kind of “Golden Mile” of beautifully restored homes. I hope it encourages people to look up a bit as they pass through.

Numbers are so impersonal. The best houses always have a name, it sets them apart. The Americans understand the importance of naming a house, like Fallingwater, Graceland, Monticello and Neverland Ranch. Close to home, Green Gables, Willowbank, Rodman Hall, White House of Rock. Not that I am comparing my abode (or skills) to Frank Lloyd Wright, but on our busy street it will become a landmark.

Buildings often have names based on business needs - sometimes named with the purpose of the building, sometimes named after the company that leases it. There are commercial buildings all around, but I wanted to bring some charm back to the neighborhood.

Will making our house stand out by naming it and labeling it increase the market value? Yes, but that means little, if the name was bestowed for base reasons alone. The house will be standing long after I am gone, kind of like my offspring. In our new home I feel like a guardian rather than an owner.

How you name your business is crucial, why you give anything a name is important.

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