The story of this fabulous piece of folk art begins with my friend Branden Spear. A construction contractor in Cambridge, he was locked up in a dispute with local officials about getting approvals on a project when he started thinking about the fact that no local regulations governed issues of color selection. And so he launched this project as a creative way to send a very public message about the freedoms we enjoy in this country and how important they are.
As you can see, the design is quite detailed. The reason why there are only 45 stars on the Freedom House is that there were only 45 states in the year that the house was built. Branden also intends the house as a shout out of thanks to the men and women in uniform who defend those freedoms.
He unveiled the house on July 4, 2010. It’s since been featured in Forbes Magazine (as one of the country’s “Amazing Colorful Houses)” as well as in a piece in Roadside America. After photos of the Freedom House went viral on Facebook, Snopes.com had to weigh in to debunk the false stories circulating about the origin of the house–especially the bogus one about how a “homeowner’s association told the owner he couldn’t fly a flag.”
Freedom House is located at 1106 Locust Street–here’s a map. And here’s a shot of Branden enjoying himself on a day a couple of years back when he donated a whole bunch of time, equipment and energy to a nonprofit project in which more than 100 community volunteers turned out to help paint and repair some buildings so that downtown Cambridge might look nicer.