Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Federal Post Office 1897
Despite the slight tendency to conjure up Hollywood back lots with their sets for Main Street movie showdowns in old western towns, these false fronts are real.

More commonly called "boomtown fronts", buildings of this particular style are common in the west, and are usually associated with the first stage of civic development between the 1870's and 1915.

The effect of placing a higher more decorated front against the plain gable end of a commercial building emulates larger more sophisticated commercial centres, and gives a bit of dignity and beauty to plain wind-scoured lumber.

Federal Post Office in profile - the back story

Midnight News (left) c.1890

The message is stability and prosperity, with the added advantage of providing space for extravagant signage touting one's wares. All of these fine examples are from Fort McLeod, Alberta, a small town which early on realized the value of its early c.20 architecture, and created an outstanding walking tour, complete with all the interpretive signage an old house nut could wish.

This is all in addition to the town's major draw, the replica Fort McLeod museum, headquarters of the North West Mounted Police after their arrival in the lawless west in 1874. A great little town, Fort McLeod.

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