Friday, July 8, 2011

History and American Architecture. Pt 1

I've always been intrigued by historic structures. Not just buildings that have been declared historic markers, but most structures that have been around for hundreds of years, which more often than not are houses. I love old houses. Some people like vintage automobiles and can go to car shows and read car magazines and appreciate the design of these machines. For me, I can go driving around neighborhoods appreciating the design of old homes, being fascinated by the smallest details and wishing I had a camera to capture the beauty of the structure. Inside these old homes is equally interesting (unless extreme updates have taken place), old wooden floors, wood staircases, glass windows where the glass looks like it is slowly melting, door frames, doors themselves; all of these things, and more hold not only my attention, but so much history. Echoes of the past can be seen  in the tiniest of details and in the grandest of design. I love looking at houses because I feel drawn back through all of the years that this house stood and especially to when it was built.

I probably should have become an architectural historian, but alas I did not.

Moving to Georgia has offered up the opportunity to view new historic homes and to get an appreciation for different styles of architecture. I recently theorized that a true American building was the classic red barn.

Unfortunately, when I was searching for a good picture of a barn on wikimedia commons, the best one I could find is actually of a barn in Canada.

Anyways, as you travel across the US, the red barn doesn't really show up everywhere (I didn't happen to see any in Miami when I was there in the spring, but maybe they were hiding behind some palm trees). But it's common enough to feel universally "American". So my theory is kind of debunked but it is true that there are architectural designs that can be attributed to not only America but to specific regions of America. I was not formally trained in architecture but I think that what I'm saying is common knowledge - to some extent.

I don't want to go into some long drawn out "lecture" about architecture, but below you will find some American houses that show not only some of the unique features of American architecture (which does have roots in European architecture - if you catch the similarities) but also the beauty of the structures beyond classification.

(Codman House, Lincoln, Massachusetts. Owned by Historic New England (originally the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) Posted by Daderot)
(Victorian home unrestored, Lebanon, Illinois, 2006. Robert Lawton)
(Victorian home in the Diamond District of Lynn, Massachusetts. Picture by fletcher6)
(Dr. Henry Wheeler House, Grand Forks, ND. A brick Gothic-Italianate Victorian home listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 16, 1986. Photographed by Glorioussandwich)
 (Imbrie Farmhouse: Hillsboro, Oregon. Photographed by Aboutmovies)

 (Sheldon Boright House, built by wealthy entrepreneur. Has been a private residence, a nursing home and is now a B&B. This stately balloon-framed mansion exhibits a typical multi-gabled, asymmetrical design, complete with ornate exterior woodwork, a wrap-around porch and porte-cochere, projecting bays, stained glass window sashes, and variegated wall and roof sheathing materials, typical of the Queen Anne style. Richford, Vermont. Photographed by Mfwills)
(Hageman Farm; Somerset, New Jersey. Original uploader was Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) at en.wikipedia)
(The stately Southern mansion in Washington, Georgia known as the Campbell-Jordan House is actually a duplex. Originally a Federal-style home in 1787, by 1841 it underwent a Greek revival-style makeover with the addition of the massive columns. The home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice and C.S.A. Assistant Secretary of War, John Campbell, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Image provided by: TampAGS, for AGS Media)
(Carson Mansion, Eureka, California April 2005, Nikon D70, Photo by Cory Maylett)
 This is just a glimpse of the variety of architecture used in American homes, and by no extent is it meant to show all types of architectural design. If I had millions of hours to spend, this would be a very long post with many pictures, but I had to cut myself off at some point. Anyways, hopefully some of these structures strike you as interesting or the next post is probably going to bore you as well. ;)

1 comment:

Daphney said...

I LOVE these beautiful houses youVe shown us!! How could you think it would be boring! Oh, sooooo lovely!