Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

another deposed monarch

This afternoon I've started reading Leslie Maitland's scholarly but accessible book, The Queen Anne Revival Style. It's reminding me how much I like the style - a little bit Gothic a little bit classical a little bit Tudor a little bit English rural life-ish. Big clues you have a Queen Anne? Dark red brick with white trim, terra cotta panels, bay windows, variety of window types, stained or frosted glass, irregular roofline, verandah with classical columns, corner tower, L-shaped plan with large gables at each end, deep brackets and vergeboard, interesting chimneys.

Maitland's detailed descriptions of the interiors of some of these homes, and of the social history that created them, is really evocative. I'm thinking baronial dark-wood-panelled splendour, pater familias uninterrupted by the fireplace , well-behaved women and children, lots of Victorian clutter...hmmm, some places I'd rather not time-travel to.

Enjoying this book is also reminding me that the house in these photos is the first building I ever really studied closely. I wrote a paper on it for Shannon Kyle's Ontario Architecture course, and later converted it (the paper) into a little article for Outlook, the journal of our wonderful local historical society. The neatest part about the research was the story of the tower - no, don't look up, it's gone. Interesting how often these third storey stories pop up - several houses I've explored since are missing towers. Notice the slight tilt to the building? In the case of this house, the tower was removed because it was too heavy for the shifty sandy soil beneath the foundation, and was causing structural problems...had to go! Third verandah, ditto.

Nowadays, the house is broken up into apartments, lacking the touch of a dedicated in-house preservationist. Mops on the porch, rubbish on the grass, and just recently someone has decided to paint the capitals on the porch columns bright brick-orange. Oh dear - still a grand house though. It's on my walk downtown through the leafy East Hill area, and I look forward to reconnecting with it every time I'm in the neighbourhood.

1 comment:

  1. Sad to think of such a grand house and an equally grand neighbourhood slowly disintegrating. I hope there are enough people with an interest and ability to preserve what's left or, failing that, the historical folks are able to step in with an even stronger presence.