Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, March 14, 2011

...and she likes our Second Empires!

If Shannon Kyles had a Facebook page....I would "Like" it.
As it is, she goes it one better....she's developed a website that gets a million hits a month.

Folks who read this blog know that I am a fan. Shannon Kyles is a Mohawk College architecture prof who has developed two resources that are invaluable, free, authoritative sites for anyone researching, or just enjoying architectural history.

Shannon's web resource at is in development. It's a complete history of western architecture, containing historical background and detailed descriptions of 14 building styles. The site contains links to definitions of building terms containing hundreds of photographs, as well as a great section on building materials. Shannon says she has travelled 72 countries to take photos of buildings for the website, and the way she says it convinces me there are more trips in her future. The website is the online textbook for her Western Architecture course (AR173 if you're tempted.) It's a very exciting resource for anyone interested in architecture, and is a close cousin to her incredible which I have mentioned before.

Shannon has been invited to speak recently by both ACO Quinte and Belleville Public Library. At BPL she gave us a tour of her website. Its power as a learning tool (archi history, art history, social and political history, architectural dictionary) will be massive. It may replace textbooks on the subject. Something she said hit me like a brick - universities and colleges are beginning to clear library collections, in favour of online resources and other information technology (and wider food court choices she sardonically added). She recounted that she recently had to demand that her college library repurchase classic books on Ontario architecture required for her course. (Wonder if they relied on Abebooks like I do?)

So, a suggestion from a fellow bibliophile. Have favourite books at your library? Keep checking them out! That way they show up as active in the circulation stats and may be there the next time you want them! Keep them moving, as loiterers on the shelves of many libraries end up in the used bookstore, or the bin.

Shannon praised many Ontario towns for maintaining their heritage homes. She mentioned Woodstock and Dundas as doing especially well in this area (road trip!!). And Belleville, yes, Belleville. Shannon loves our Second Empires - as do we.

Photo: Bridge Street, Belleville


  1. Maybe Mohawk will give you a finder's fee after the enrolment for this course skyrockets. Don't you wish Shannon wanted an assistant on all these road trips?

  2. What a good idea - you are good at good ideas!