Then and now

Discussion in 'Your Vintage Home' started by vitanola, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,192
    Location:
    Gopher Prairie, MI
    653E49BB-A777-4281-988D-B2218E457018.jpeg 476AE50C-740A-4E52-ABB1-1245542F1B4C.jpeg A1AD2BC6-7820-43DB-B1D9-C04481A2A13A.jpeg 1C97DBF3-BBC0-4CB5-BD70-9D759E7E1A8F.jpeg 1E6A069A-739C-4BC7-8387-3A763888D79E.jpeg 35DBAF8D-E9D8-43F6-848F-E727F3FFCDF1.jpeg DB1A12DD-C764-420F-994C-4E188281123E.jpeg The SPNEA has a remarkable archive of interior shots which are available on their website. I found it interesting to compare some of these with images available on Zillow and Trulia. It either shows haw far that we have come, or it confirms that Max Nordau was right.

    35!Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA, the home of Arthur S. Little, the architect who began the Colonial Revival, pictured at about the time of the Great War:
     
    Paisley and 3fingers like this.
  2. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,192
    Location:
    Gopher Prairie, MI
    6DB11965-B10D-4667-A799-6085B2E5087A.jpeg 16BF2B0D-BE5B-48BC-8996-ADAEAC7CC6B9.jpeg 559B9A13-3290-47DB-84CB-096E7B0B63EA.jpeg 6D970292-AC33-445D-A123-E6F6E713D82D.jpeg 6410B666-49A4-4C9A-8B6C-BF9419D08944.jpeg 16093D94-E1F5-45AD-B6AF-C47BB928D065.jpeg 7C9DC9EF-394B-4777-9E1A-F286E2B81CC7.jpeg
     
    Michael A and 3fingers like this.
  3. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,192
    Location:
    Gopher Prairie, MI
    6BD4241F-97E1-4340-86FC-8CD6C3D85A5B.jpeg B4D0B718-FBDD-45E4-8C6C-811F591DFE9D.jpeg 47C2FE55-F3A8-4ABD-95CA-7C2D0AFDC4EB.jpeg 20F3AEFB-B7A8-40DE-B862-25F3DAB1F96F.jpeg 1D6B4363-CB80-4491-8B95-3DCBA0514498.jpeg F7E8A633-B167-44D1-ACDA-BD30FEEFA1E9.jpeg EF10C997-1044-43B9-B0D1-29D5C7AD520B.jpeg 9CE2B404-53B4-47BB-8BE3-9303674B0CAE.jpeg An apartment in that house as it appeared last year, when it was for sale for fourteen million dollars. The interior was by a prominent designer. I believe that it was featured in AD. This is the way that the Masters of our Universe prefer to live. I see but one explanation: Degeneration.
     
    LizzieMaine likes this.
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    What is it with the white, white, white? I understand for a cheap rental unit it's easiest for landlords to deal with, but why do "designers" and their acolytes find it so appealing? Don't any of these people own cats? Or spill drinks?

    I couldn't stand to live in a white, white, white environment. It'd make me feel like a lab specimen.
     
    vitanola likes this.
  5. TimeWarpWife

    TimeWarpWife One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    In My House
    What I'm not understanding, in addition to all the white, is the institutional gray that's so prevalent in the homes for sale in our area. I'd feel like I was living in a prison with all that dull gray surrounding me. The worst color I've seen to date was when my brother-in-law's ex painted their kitchen in what I could only describe as blood red, although I think she was going for barn red, which was popular at the time. Every time I entered the kitchen all I could think of was it resembled what I imagined the inside of a slaughter house to look like. :eek:
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
    vitanola likes this.
  6. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    13,249
    Location:
    New York City
    Since we are not comparing room by room, it's hard to go detail by detail, but what I find disappointing is that so many of the original architectural details (that would cost a crazy amount to do today) - like the beamed ceilings, fireplace mantles, intricate (and heavy) doors, "scrolly" things on the wall and the extensive molding - have been striped out or (maybe) covered up.
     
    vitanola likes this.
  7. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,512
    Location:
    New Forest
    The first house that my wife and I bought was a Victorian terrace, it was the fad of the day to remove or cover those intricate details that you described. We loved them, we even managed to source early electricals like light switches to keep it as original as possible. It was originally gas lit, but someone at some stage had sympathetically replaced the gas mantle with a similar looking electric light bulb. So good was it that unless you knew that the property was built before mains electricity you would think that the feature was original.

    We moved on after three years, the property alas became vandalised on the alter of modernity. But it was no longer our house, and if you saw the new owners choice of paint colour you would give thanks that you didn't live next door.

    Speaking of vandals, they don't come bigger that corporate vandals. These photos are not of a house but of a railway terminus, what Hitler's bombs failed to do the local authority achieved spectacularly.

    The Euston Arch, a neo classical monument to the railway age designed by architect Philip Hardwick and built in 1837, was the original entrance to Euston station, facing onto Drummond Street, London. The Arch was demolished when the station was rebuilt in the 1960's.

    euston1.jpg euston2.jpg Euston3.jpg euston4.jpg euston5.jpg Euston6.jpg euston7.jpg euston8.jpg
     
    Fading Fast likes this.
  8. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    13,249
    Location:
    New York City
    It seems train stations are particularly vulnerable to architectural vandals as, possibly, the most notable one in the US was the tearing down of the "old" Penn Station in NYC for the "modern" one.

    Old Penn:
    pennstationmain.jpg
    BLOCKSweb1-articleLarge.jpg

    New Penn:
    Penn_Station_NYC_main_entrance.jpg image-9.jpg

    Several years ago, we bought a coop in a 1928 apartment building and, like you did with your Victorian, tried to keep, reclaim, restore, etc. as many original/period architectural details as possible. I posted a lot of pics on FL at the time.
     
    vitanola likes this.
  9. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,512
    Location:
    New Forest
    How can you justify taking the wrecking ball to that architectural masterpiece? A while back I saw, on TV, a documentary type of program about great public buildings around the world that town planners have destroyed. Pennsylvania Station, the McKim, Mead and White masterpiece that was demolished and replaced by the execrable Penn Station. A classic of Beaux-Arts design and one of the architectural jewels of the city, didn't it's destruction lead to the start of the architectural preservation movement in America? Of the two buildings, before and after, architecture critic Vince Scully noted: “One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat.”

    I have tried to find some details of that TV program, I remember a snippet about Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, I looked that up on Wiki, it moved to Los Angeles, seriously? When the founding fathers left our shores for the new world, they must have had a mercenery stowaway or two with destructive genes that they subsequently passed on. Didn't you lose a building that the famous Frank Lloyd Wright designed? I wish I could remember that TV program.
     
  10. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    An entire generation of concrete, brick and steel baseball parks was torn down between the late 1950s and the early 2000s, because they were "no longer economically viable" for one reason or another. Of the generation of major-league ballparks built in America between 1909 and 1923, only two survive.

    Some of these parks were homely things -- Tiger Stadium in Detroit and Comiskey Park in Chicago were beautiful on the inside, but looked, like Fenway Park still does today, like dumpy brick warehouses on the outside. The Polo Grounds in New York had no distinctive exterior features at all. And Braves Field in Boston had a weird Spanish Mission exterior that had about as much to do with the New England architectual tradition as a bag of tacos. But some of them truly were things of beauty. Ebbets Field had a graceful arching exterior that brought a certain grandeur to an otherwise working-class neighborhood. Yankee Stadium was like the Fort Knox of Baseball. And the most elegant park of all was Shibe Park in Philadelphia -- which looked like the palace of a Renaissance cardinal instead of the home of the A's.

    CWB790.jpg

    It was abandoned in 1970 and left to rot, set on fire by vandals, left to rot some more, and was finally torn down in 1976. That's how we tend to treat our "architectural treasures" when they outlive their commercial usefulness.
     
    vitanola likes this.
  11. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    13,249
    Location:
    New York City
    You are correct, Penn had to die to save hundreds of other buildings as New Yorkers collectively asked themselves, right after Penn was killed, "God, what have we done?" That cri de coeur birthed what would eventually become the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

    Lizzie isn't wrong, but the challenge becomes - who pays? We can all agree, "that building should be saved," but that still doesn't answer the question, who pays?

    As always, there are competing interests for budgets. To wit, if we - the City or State (or Federal via grants) Gov't - spend more on historical building preservation, then we have less budget money for education, pre-school breakfast programs, healthcare, the homeless, the police, subsidized housing, tax cuts, the veterans, infrastructure and on and on. You can say, let's just increase taxes, but still, that new tax money could go to education, pre-school breakfast programs...instead of (what some say) is the "less-important effort of just saving old buildings that have outlived their usefulness."

    There are many historically protected (by the Landmarks Preservation Commission) buildings in NYC - the gov't won't allow them torn down and, if renovated, they must be restored and not altered (which is very expensive and doesn't allow for much repurposing) - that are abandoned and falling into disrepair as the city can't afford to keep them up and the private sector won't take them on as they won't turn a profit owing the the Landmark restrictions.
     
  12. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,512
    Location:
    New Forest
    Finance is always an issue, but it's not a problem that can't be solved as long as there's some serious joined up thinking. The City of Bath, it gets its name from the famous Roman baths in the town, once had two magnificent stations, they lost one when a third of our network was closed in the 1960's. Far from closing the second station, it was known as Bath Green, and simply ripping it down, it was restored. A supermarket rents part of the structure to provide additional car parking space, the ticket office and entrance hall became a bistro and the concourse became a traders street market. It's quite impressive too.

    bath green1.jpg bath green3.jpg bath green.jpg bath green2.jpg bath green4.jpg
     
    Trenchfriend and vitanola like this.
  13. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,192
    Location:
    Gopher Prairie, MI
    On A small scale, my hometown has a beautiful little former episcopal church which has been for sale for a number of years. The congregation withered away in the mid 2000s, and the little clapboard building has been sitting vacant ever since. It’s an interesting structure, a generally Greek revival in its design, with Gothic Ogilvy windows. The building is in a remarkable state of preservation, retaining it’s entire original configuration, including its walnut and butternut box pews. It is the oldest surviving church in the state and possibly the oldest surviving structure in the state. This little building has been for sale for several years for about $90,000. At one point I considered buying it, but I couldn’t think of what to do with it. There really is nothing to be done with that building unless one commits violence and And the tears out of the original box pews and pulpit, I just could not bring myself to do that. Show the building languages. Modern churches or rather modern congregations don’t use the style of worship that is suited to a building of that type. The best way to preserve a building is to figure out a way for it to make money, or at least enough money to support its maintenance. None of us seem to be able to do that. Anything that would allow the building to be modified in such a way that the building would be commercially useful would involve destroying important parts of its fabric. And so the building sits,Slowly deteriorating. One of these days probably in five or 10 years it will be in to rough condition to salvage and it will be demolished and that will be that
     
  14. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    13,249
    Location:
    New York City
    That's a sad story, but one that is also happening, quietly, all over New York City.

    As I noted in prior posts (and I'm over simplifying as the details and complexity of the actual laws and governance are mind-numbingly complex - as are most in NYC), NYC now a Historical Preservation Commission that (through an also complex process) decides which buildings get put on the list for "preservation," which means they can't be torn down and any work done has to, basically, preserve the historical details, etc. (more complex rules and regs).

    That's all good and well - and I'm all for it - but what it doesn't do is come up with the money for any of it. To be sure, most of the high-profile projects get a lot of attention and, usually, funding from a combination of gov't programs/grants, charitable grants and private investment, but just like your beautiful sounding little church, NYC has a lot - hundreds - of small buildings on the list that aren't funded and are deteriorating.

    The government doesn't have the money to buy up all these properties and maintain them. The gov't already owns many buildings that are on the preservation list (some are old municipal buildings while other are buildings the gov't owes as private owners stop paying taxes and "walk away" from the properties). Many of those are deteriorating owing to neglect from the city as, once the buildings are no longer actively used, the city, just like the private sector, doesn't want to put money into maintaining them and, because of the strict preservation laws, they can't "re-purpose" them for a modern use (the reason the private owners walked away in the first place).

    So they deteriorate while sitting on a "preservation" list. I do not know the answer, but maybe, we need to have some process in place to allow for more modernizing at the expense of some historical preservation as the alternative in many cases will be complete loss to neglect.
     
  15. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,775
    Location:
    Illinois
    I am greatly in favor of preserving historical buildings. What I am not in favor of is forcing people of limited means who happened to be caught up in the preservation zone not being allowed to use their personal property as they see fit. I don't know how these things are done in other areas but I can show you post war bungalows built in older neighborhoods here that are included in the zone. If any work is done on the exterior it must comply with standards generated by the preservation committee. People who have owned their homes for 50 years or more and want to replace a rotting front door should not be under the control of others who have no investment in the property.
     
    Fading Fast likes this.
  16. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    13,249
    Location:
    New York City
    Similar to my post, this is where the rubber hits the road. To wit, someone has to pay for it. The reason, in NYC, many of these properties (the not high-profile ones) are being abandoned (as I noted in my above post) is that the owners (many who are not big and wealthy real-estate companies, but either private owners or small real estate company - one or two owners trying to build something - who own a few properties) can't afford to keep them up to the preservation standards and aren't allowed to renovate them in ways that make them useful for today's changing needs.

    As 3 Fingers points out, just replacing a door can be, in a "protected" property, a multiple of what it is in a normal property - the same goes for stairs (and everything else) as a liquor store owner explained to me one day as to why his stairs were broken but he couldn't just patch them up. And again, as 3 Fingers points out, we (myself included) who like preserving these buildings have to admit that we are placing a burden on the existing owners and, in many cases, all but taking their property from them by default. I agree that's wrong, which is why I noted in my above post we need to think creatively and make compromises as, otherwise, we are taking these properties unfairly and, at least in NYC, many are then going to seed in the end anyway.

    The honest thing to do would be for the government to buy the properties at fair market prices (not forced sales at below-market prices and not at inflated "lottery winning" above-market levels), but that would require the gov't to spend a lot of money and we know all the problems with that.
     
    3fingers likes this.
  17. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,437
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    Even preservationists might be more willing to tear down historical buildings if the replacements weren't so *#&^! ugly.

    I see that federal buildings are going to be made in the classical style again. I'm for that.
     
  18. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,437
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    Indianapolis has mostly been spared from the blight of modern architecture. Houses, warehouses and old factories tend to get rehabbed instead of bulldozed.

    Houses the city has rehabbed: http://nearindy.org/homes/

    The Rivoli Theater looks like it will finally be restored after a number of attempts: https://www.rivolitheatre.org

    The old Ford plant on East Washington is being turned into affordable housing, etc.: http://indyeast.org/twg-revitalizes-ford-building-catalyzing-economic-growth-in-holy-cross/

    At a surplus sale last year, even houses with demolition orders on them were selling. Buyers have (I think) six months to bring them up to code.

    As to cost: does every pothole have to be filled, every petty crime solved, every stray dog captured before we care what about what the city looks like? What's the cost of living in drab, depressing surroundings? Or the cost of tearing out and rebuilding interiors once the smooth, monochromatic surfaces are dinged, dented and stained? A bit of wear and tear gives character to older styles; it makes modern ones look shabby. There are photographic website devoted to the architectural ruins of Detroit; even in advanced decay, you can see how beautiful they were. There won't likely be such sites devoted to Denver.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.