Mt. Laurel Named America's Most Authentic Community
Mt Laurel () - This month's issue of Authentic Living magazine has named Alabama's picturesque town of Mt Laurel
the 'Most Authentic' community in America. Mt Laurel edged out Stepford, Connecticut and hundreds of other neighborhoods and towns to win the designation. The highly coveted prize is the result of a year long process which awards the top entrants in three separate categories: Authentic, Somewhat Authentic and May Contain Mexicans. Mt Laurel is no stranger to awards, the town's 'easy living' philosophy has previously been lauded by publications as diverse as Bungalow Living and Authentic Bungalow Living.
The planned community of Mt Laurel was the brainchild of Elton B. Stephens Jr., son of EBSCO founder Elton Sr. Stephens dreamed of creating a neighborhood where his employees could exist free from the noise, pollution and racial disharmony of Birmingham. In fact, Mt Laurel takes pride in being one of only three towns in Alabama designed by someone who slept with Hitler. The community hearkens to an earlier, simpler era that exists purely in the minds of its residents. Undeterred by those who scoff at the idealization of a lifestyle that was only possible through rigid racial, sexual and class discrimination, the Mt Laurel credo proclaims, "One must engage the authentic without immersing oneself in the real." Mt Laurel residents seem blissfully ignorant of the contradictions inherent in their existence. "Perhaps some people live in neighborhoods that weren't built around pretentious, grandiose philosophies," one resident states, "but we don't know, and frankly, we don't care."
During the original planning stage, EBSCO sent teams to scout out communities throughout the state that had the qualities they were looking for. "Unfortunately," admits community publicist Bunny Lake, "we couldn't find any that resembled what our clients wanted, so we ended up patterning the whole thing after the movie set used in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'". The surprisingly cramped houses are built on smallish lots. Despite this, they are both more expensive and more shoddily built than the unassuming homes that fill the parts of Birmingham their owners would never set foot in. "These houses will become heirlooms to be handed down from generation to generation," states Lake. "Or at least until black people move in."