There’s a lot of talk about “fakeness” coming out of the White House these days, but did you know that there’s a Fake White House? There are several of them, in fact. And I’m not talking about the Secret Service’s planned replica in Beltsville. I’m talking about actual houses that private citizens built for the purpose of living in, that also look identical to the seat of the US government. It’s the real estate equivalent to “Single White Female,” with a nice dose of megalomania thrown in. I guess they really took to heart the philosophy of “fake it ’til you make it.” Except for the second part. They never really got around to making it. But boy did they fake it!
Let’s go to the photos.
The Atlanta White House
Possibly the most accurate of the White House replicas, this one was built by an Iranian-American developer named Fred Milani. Milani was a prolific builder of McMansions, so it makes some kind of perverse sense that he’d build a fake White House for himself. (Also perversely appropriate: the many near-foreclosures.) According to the New York Times, Milani’s faux-White House is a bizarre mix of tradition and high camp; instead of presidential busts, there’s a bust of Milani himself, and there are murals of the Last Supper, Abraham Lincoln, and Milani kneeling at the feet of Jesus. And yes, those shrubs in front are trimmed to spell out “God [Heart] You.” The weirdest part is that Milani says, “I’m really not very political.” Um … what?
The Chinese White House
This $10 million replica in China was built by Huang Qiaoling, one of the wealthiest men in China. Huang reproduced every detail of the White House, right down to the presidential portraits on the walls, the sofas, and the iconic carpet with the Presidential Seal on it. He even makes his employees call him “President Huang.” The only changes he’s made is that, in the Oval Office, the shelves hold bottles of liquor instead of books (I like this guy!), and instead of a bust of George Washington, there’s a bust of Genghis Khan. While it may seem strange that a Chinese businessman would spend so much money to duplicate the seat of another country’s power, it’s really no different than that one white friend we all have who takes martial arts lessons, owns a samurai sword, and wears a silk kimono as a bathrobe. (That was my roundabout way of calling this guy LAME.)
The Texas White House
Located on Galveston Bay, just outside of Houston, this house was built in the 1920s by former Texas governor Ross Sterling. Isn’t it extra-weird that it was built by a politician? Was this replica a tacit admission that he’d hit his political ceiling and would never be able to win a presidential election, or was he thumbing his nose at the capital, having his own little White House without all the bother and baggage of actually being president? Sterling reportedly had many parties there, including “welcome home” parties for returning astronauts, who probably thought they were going to the real White House until the limo pulled up to this Texas knock-off. Sterling later founded the oil company Exxon; isn’t it vaguely ironic that the guy who built a replica White House later became rich enough to easily buy his way into the real one?
The Blue White House
What makes the (real) White House boring? Because I think we can all agree that, architecturally speaking, it’s pretty dull. Maybe it’s the color that makes it so boring? If that’s your theory, you’re not alone. In the Sixties, a couple in Chatham, Illinois, built their own White House replica, but improved on the original by building it from imported Italian blue brick. And boy, is it blue! It looks like a huge “2000 Flushes” cartridge. When the original owners died, the house fell into disrepair until a local woman bought the house and spent half a million dollars renovating it. The interior actually looks pretty comfortable; too bad it’s stuck inside a searingly blue bootleg White House.
The Virginia White House
This facsimile in McLean, VA has one thing going for it that none of the others do: it’s on the market. Not only that, but according to the listing, and I quote, “SELLER HIGHLY MOTIVATED TO SELL, BRING ANY AND ALL OFFERS.” That, my friends, is desperation. It’s currently listed at $2.7 million, but obviously that’s extremely negotiable. Unfortunately, your very own Virginia White House wouldn’t even be the only one in the neighborhood, since there’s another replica just five minutes away. (I don’t understand anything about this country.) Best tidbit about this house: the agent cold-called Trump in 2011 and “invited him to purchase the property.” He never heard back.