Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The beauty of small structures and attention to detail.

We "Victorian Architecture Junkies" tend to wax eloquently about grand Victorian structures like the Biltmore and Mark Twain House with its exquisite Tiffany interiors. And we always stop and stare whenever we come across a previously unknown to us Mansion or Queen Anne with Turrets but we might scarecly glance at a cottage.Perhaps its because we are restoring a Second Empire 'cottage' or our Indy home is a finely detailed craftsman bungalow, but I have developed an affinity for small structures.

Doubled brackets,  molding are all there just more carefully scaled.
Small structures are perhaps more difficult for an Architect. Details that work easily on  a larger structure must be carefully scaled back, less is more and its often difficult to obtain a perfect balance. However a perfectly balance structure is beautiful to behold and such is the case with today architectural case study. This amazing small structure is largely unchanged (except for one major thing) from when it was first built and serves a similar use today.This structure was built as a guard house and sits in Indianapolis at the corner of Michigan and Arsenal at the entrance to what was a civil war Military base and today it serves as a gate house for the south gate of the Arsenal Tech High school.

This porch looks the same now as it did in the 1860's. This is why preservation is important. Imagine this remuddled with vinyl soffits.
What makes it a refined structure is its sense of classic balance.,the same Italianate details are there. The brackets a square columned Porch with arches and elegant details around the windows. The builder has maintained the same level of detail you would expect in an Italianate mansion 10 times its size but it works so well in this scale too. The remarkable thing? This building was shortened to make it smaller!

This photo was taken about 1916 . Did you notice this building has been shortened 10 feet and the side windows were altered to preserve proper balance of a smaller building?
 So next time you drive around "Victorian hunting" don't overlook the small house.

1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

I wonder why they shortened it? The original looks great, to me the current not so much.