Are You Dreaming Of A White Picket Fence?

Real Estate Agent with DFW FINE PROPERTIES 0506509



Musings, 9/17/2016, by Patricia Feager


While visiting Galveston, TX, I drove through many old neighborhoods that still had the white picket fence. One home with the white picket fence got my attention because there were cats to capture and I just had to take their picture. I watched as the white cat strolled over, walking down the sidewalk, never taking his eyes off me with my camera. There it hooked up with the black and white cat and the two remained, sitting in front of the gate.  




I began to think about the white picket fence, that symbol of home ownership, stuck in the minds of many Americans from even before I was born and how it relates to early colonial, social, economic, and social values of the people who came to America or were born and raised in America. 


As a kid growing up Chicago style, I recall playing house with the neighborhood kids and we all said, "When I get married, I want "X" of kids, a house and a white picket fence." But where did we get that idea from? I thought about the house I was raised in. Before my grandparents died, it was their house; then my parents. We had an ornamental, black, wrought iron fence between the house and stairs going up to the front porch, then a sidewalk, and a garden closest to the curb with a gray picket fence. 


As I drove through the neighborhood in Galveston, I began to see both the white picket fence and black, wrought iron fences in front of people's houses.




As I turned the pages of my mind, I don't recall my father or grandfather doing any maintenance to the black, wrought iron fence. It was built to last and it did from when the house was built in the late 1800's until it was sold in 2006. But then, I started thinking about the picket fence. I don't recall if it was ever a white picket fence because my father always painted it to match the wooden porch steps, bluish gray.  


When I got back home, I started doing some research on the symbolism of having a white picket fence. Early historians associated the iconic status as middle-class suburban life: yet I scratched my head because I never lived in the suburbs until I moved to Texas in 1997. My roots are both urban; then rural consisting of wrought iron, picket, chain linked, and barb wire fence. Personally, I never considered a white picket fence as a symbol of success, but I did consider purchasing my first home with a VA Loan to be a major accomplishment because of his self-sacrifices, serving our country for 365 days in Korea, before going to Viet Nam.


As a blue-collar worker, belonging to a Union, my father replaced many picket fences by hand, cutting them to size, shaping the top of the pickets; then painting them and maintaining the fence until the day he died. Working class men and women worked hard and had many skills and they cared more about the elderly, including an explosion of baby boomer children and pets.


Fast forward to today, as a Real Estate Agent in North Texas, I have had many clients and not one ever requested a home with a white-picket fence. I don't know any families who have the luxury of one person staying home with the kids. In my neighborhood, there are no white picket fences or wrought iron fences. Kids don't even play in their yards. In my opinion, today's home-ownership is a symbol of the American hope and I welcome your opinions.


©Patricia Feager, 9/17/2016




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Patricia Feager
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Dick Greenberg - Do you remember the scene in It's a Wonderful Life when Jimmy Stewart was going to Mary's house but he couldn't open up the front gate of the white picket fence? We don't have white picket fences in Flower Mound either. Is that because the builder from the Developer saved costs? If I had an HOA restriction, would they permit it or implement rules about the picket fence? Is the white picket fence a perverse symbol that something is wrong with the American people? Things certainly have changed while many of us slept...

Thank you for your input. I wonder if it is more of an eastern/southern thing, or just a left over from the pages of history. 

Sep 17, 2016 07:13 AM #21
Patricia Feager
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Dianne Goode - Back in the early 1990's I spent 3 weeks driving all around NC and my starting point was Raleigh. I stayed in an old Plantation House; then drove all the way through the Blue Ridge Parkway, visiting many great cities until it was time to go back to Raleigh. I don't recall seeing any white picket fences either. I also lived in Maine and can't recollect any there either. 

It makes me wonder who started the idea of buying that house with the white picket fence. It also makes me wonder, was my dad a rebel because he didn't paint the fence white and used blue-gray instead? 

You're right about the maintenance because I had 4 sisters and no brothers. We all had paint brushes in our hands and it was a drag!

Sep 17, 2016 07:20 AM #22
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

I've always liked white picket fences.  I thought about putting one completely around the front of my house at one point, but decided against it.  Instead, I constructed a white picket accent instead.


Sep 17, 2016 08:24 AM #23
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

CONGRATULATIONS Patricia, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!    

Sep 17, 2016 08:27 AM #24
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Congratulations on you feature recognition.  We live in Kentlands, a community that has mostly white picket fences.

Sep 17, 2016 10:04 AM #25
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


A white picket fence is part of Americana . . . . Sad to say that it's fading away.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Sep 17, 2016 12:16 PM #26
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Congratulations on the feature for an outstanding post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Sep 17, 2016 12:17 PM #27
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Vision Quest Realty, Martha Hilton, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

There are a few white picket fences in my small town. In our neighborhood fences aren't allowed and the kids play in their yards and ride their bikes around our circular driveway. They always stop and play with Zeke. My husband and I love to watch them and hear their laughter. So I am glad we don't have fences here. Although, it may or may not keep out the deer :)

Sep 17, 2016 12:43 PM #28
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Patricia Feager when I was buying a house, I wanted a white fence around my home! Builder did not complete it!

Now I know it was for good. It's all about the neighborhood, isn't it? Why to stay 'fenced' with neighbors?

Sep 17, 2016 02:50 PM #29
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Love this post and I too, have a 'thing' for white picket fences!  I have actually had one client who wanted a particular neighborhood because of the white picket fences but, only that one!  I remember as a child thinking that's where I wanted to live - in a home much like the one you have pictured, surrounded by a white picket fence!

Sep 17, 2016 03:28 PM #30
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I enjoyed rading you post. Thanks for sharin. Have a good day.

Sep 17, 2016 09:34 PM #31
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Our lives are rich with symbolic statements & white picket fence says quite a bit

Sep 17, 2016 11:41 PM #32
Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

The American Dream is still alive--true more kids do not play outside.

Sep 18, 2016 12:38 AM #33
Sham Reddy
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Thanks for sharing!!!

White picket fence, that symbol of home ownership, stuck in the minds of many Americans from even before I was born and how it relates to early colonial, social, economic, and social values of the people who came to America or were born and raised in America

Sep 18, 2016 03:24 AM #34
Sussie Sutton
UTR Texas Realtors - Pearland, TX
UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers.

Great post!  I love the green colored house in the photo and I have always wanted to go inside and explore. I think I was in tan one on the right of this post. I went in when it was being renovated many years ago. It was beautiful even without being fixed.

Sep 18, 2016 07:08 AM #35
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Patricia we have been discussing for the past two years to get white picket fence around our front yard I guess it is high time we do it, Endre

Sep 18, 2016 02:11 PM #36
Susan Laxson CRS
Palm Properties - La Quinta, CA
Local Knowledge & Global Network

Good morning Patricia Feager - I grew up with the dream of a white picket fence, so your post hit home. Now I replaced the desire to have a white picket fence with a front porch. Great post!

Sep 18, 2016 11:07 PM #37
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Patricia - I love your musings and the history of the white picket fence mentality. I dare say the younger generations are more practical, but that may be only while they are young, then they may follow the pattern of their parents?

Sep 18, 2016 11:59 PM #38
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Agent

I don't see very many white picket fences. In my mind, there is a still somewhat of a symbolism there. I grew up in a house with a chain link fence. We did play in the yard. My home now has a split rail fence. I think it defines the property lines more than anything else.

Oct 08, 2016 07:56 AM #39
Tony Preston
Garden Fencing London - Sydney, AU
Garden Fencing London

There are just some things that you can never eliminate from your memories. Though I feel that white picket fences have somehow been outdated by other more charming fences like hedges, glasses and so on, but the amount of sentimental value that they hold cannot be demolished from our minds. I guess if you wish to relive the memories of your childhood then white picket fences are the option to choose regardless of how attractive other fences could be.

Nov 13, 2017 10:03 PM #40
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