Robert Toll, who with his brother built an eponymous brand of luxury “McMansions” in the United States that became home to some 150,000 households, died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 81.
The cause was Parkinson’s disease, his family said in a statement.
Mr. Toll, who grew up in a single-family Tudor-style home in suburban Philadelphia, initially pursued law as a career but quit after nine months. In 1967, he persuaded his father, a home builder, to give him two vacant properties on which he could construct colonial-style homes that were fully furnished and decorated.
“We built two houses,” Mr. Toll said. “Instead of selling them, we used them as samples for the lots we owned down the street.”
The brothers quickly built 20 more houses nearby and sold them for $17,490 each (about $152,000 in today’s money), reaping a small gain per home that produced an annual profit of about $12,000 for all of them. Last year, the average price of a home sold by Toll was $1.04 million; earnings were $833.6 million on revenues of $8.4 billion.
Toll Brothers, the two eventually created residences for 150,000 households.
Some critics derided their suburban, single-family residences as roomy “McMansions,” comparing them to a fast food product — cookie-cutter homes, often complete with soaring foyers and great rooms and luxurious master suites, derived from a few sample models and mass-produced (although Toll Brothers added custom amenities to buyers’ specifications).
The company expanded from the Northeast to Washington, D.C., in the 1980s and then to California in the 1990s. It now operates in 24 states, developing suburban enclaves, communities for older adults and urban high-rise apartments for affluent homeowners.
chairman and chief executive of Toll Brothers from its founding until 2010; he remained on the board of directors until recently, when he was named chairman emeritus. He oversaw the legal aspects of the business while his younger brother, Bruce E. Toll, the vice chairman of the board, was responsible for the bookkeeping.
Robert Irwin Toll was born on Dec. 30, 1940, in Elkins Park, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb. He was raised in a house built by his father, Albert, a Ukrainian immigrant whose brother, Herman, became a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania.