bill_bill (bill_bill) wrote,

About American old houses

One thing that our Brit and European friends might not appreciate when we deal with 100 year old buildings as "old" and "historic." This is on beyond the relative shortness of our history versus old world history...

Given the American obsession with "new" and "updated," even architectural styles from as recent as the first half of the 20th Century are lost rapidly. In some ways it is like endangered species conservation. This area where I live was settled in the late 19th Century (shortly after our civil war, and after al the natives had been removed) by german and swiss immigrants. Yet, in the entire county there is exactly ONE surviving example of the 19th century swiss-style gingerbread that was in wide use at the time: OUR FRONT PORCH. All the rest have been "updated," which means torn down or allowed to rot, and replaced with something bought at Home Depot. Of those wonderfully rustic hand-tooled limestone chimneys that predominated in the 19th century across this region, only a handful remain intact and standing in the county -- and we own two of them. My mom's turn-of-the-century Queen Ann is almost unrecognizeable inside and out -- no chimneys, no fireplaces, vinyl siding, cheap panelling, linoleum, and slapped on additions that have destroyed its lines. That is the normal condition for anything built before 1950 in this nation, unless it was just torn down entirely.
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