This is wonderful on so many levels:
ATLANTA â€” The replica of George W. Bushâ€™s desk still sits in the Oval Office beneath the Iranian and American flags. The seal of the president of the United States still adorns the floor mats across the hall from the zebra-skin rug. And the porch overlooking the 75-car parking lot is still called the Truman Balcony.
For the last seven years, almost as long as President Bush has been in Washington, Mr. Milani, an Iranian-American home developer, has lived in a scaled-down version of the presidential mansion in Atlanta. A private Xanadu for Mr. Milani, a headache for neighbors and a destination for camera-wielding gawkers, the 16,500-square-foot home has become a kooky symbol of this boom-boom cityâ€™s ever-growing residential skyline.
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Inside its wrought-iron gates, the Atlanta White House is a singular pastiche of Middle Eastern dÃ©cor (wall rugs, a hookah), American political kitsch (Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation painted onto a bedroom wall), religious iconography (a tapestry of â€œThe Last Supper,â€ a giant crucifix) and self-promotion (an â€œMâ€ tiled into the pool, a bust of Mr. Milani).
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Mr. Milani works in his own Oval Office. Guests sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. And all 43 presidents â€” plus President-elect Barack Obama â€” stare down from a poster on his kitchen wall.
All from a man who follows politics only loosely.
â€œReally, I am not very political,â€ Mr. Milani said. â€œThe architect just asked, â€˜How about I build you the White House?â€™ and I said yes. That is the whole story.â€
He voted for President Bush twice, he said, but after the economy deteriorated, he became a â€œbig fanâ€ of Mr. Obama. Most of his support, however, is reserved for God. He converted to Christianity from Islam in 1995, and his house reflects his adoration of his adopted faith. In the front hedges, he spelled â€œGod (heart) Youâ€ in topiary. A life-size carving of a biblical scene overlooks the congregation room in his basement, where leaders of his church baptize Muslims into Christianity.
But the Atlanta White Houseâ€™s signature piece of artwork is a ceiling mural of Jesus ministering to people of various races. A Hispanic man wears a sombrero, an American Indian dons a headdress, and at the feet of Jesus is Mr. Milani himself, his head bowed in submission.
â€œItâ€™s a very unusual house, so it may be difficult to sell,â€ Mr. Ghiai said.
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