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October 20, 2021

The Earle Street Trick or Treat Test

Think of the perfect Halloween-friendly neighborhood – perhaps you live in one or grew up in one. Perhaps it’s from your favorite Halloween movie. What does it look like?

There is a street in Greenville, South Carolina that has all of the ingredients of what makes a Halloween friendly street. New Urbanists like to describe it as the Trick-or-Treat test. Put simply, a Halloween-friendly street is pedestrian-friendly with large and welcoming front porches. The houses are either alley loaded or feature the houses forward and the garages pushed back.

In the case of historic Earle Street, the garages are way back – behind the houses with only a ribbon driveway on the side, barely suggesting that there are even garages on the site. Most of the houses were built in the 1910’s and 1920’s – with the notable exception of the Colonel Elias Earle town home. The homes are well cared for today and provide excellent examples of historical revival architecture including Dutch Colonial, Neo-Classical, Georgian Revival, English Country, Tudor, and Craftsman styles.

The street features sidewalks on both sides of the street and ample trees. Some of the trees made it hard to get pictures. I especially love the diversity of styles and how each house has its own personality. This adds a richness often missed in “cookie-cutter” neighborhoods. Earle Street is on a hill, so low stone retaining walls help manage the slope and add another layer between sidewalk and home.

Of course, no street can pass the trick-or-treat test if the homes aren’t decorated! Thankfully, it would appear that residents along this street have an unspoken dedication to celebrate their historic street during each holiday with exemplary decoration.

Almost every historic city has that perfect street that passes the Trick-or-Treat test. Going forward, we should strive to make every street memorable. As you consider the design of your homes, I hope you will take inspiration from Earle Street with its diversity of styles and pedestrian friendly design discipline. Oh – and perhaps take inspiration from the awesome Halloween decorations.

Happy Halloween from all of us at Housing Design Matters!

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters