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Happy Friday readers! As some of you may know, Ash and I went to grad school in Vermont. (We got our Master’s in Historic Preservation there, in addition to our undergraduate degrees in preservation from a school in Rhode Island) To celebrate Ash’s upcoming birthday (it’s a big one), we decided to go back to Vermont for a little trip and revisit some of the places that we used to love in Vermont. With that in mind, and due to the fact that I will not be around next Friday to post, today’s fantasy is  a Vermont treasure: the Justin Smith Morrill Homestead (Vermont’s first National Historic Landmark).

The Morrill Homestead in Strafford, Vermont is a Downingesque Cottage with Carpenter Gothic trim (see this post on Downing for a refresher). Justin Smith Morrill was born and raised in Strafford, where he attended school until the age of 15 (so around 1870).  After that time, he was removed from school to help his family earn a living. Morrill wanted to attend college but didn’t have the means, so he taught himself in fields that interested him, including architecture. It was this love of learning that led him to become a senator and sponsor the 1862 and 1890 Land Grant Acts that established Land Grant colleges for students who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to go.

The Morrill homestead just went through a big restoration. If you are in Vermont anytime you should check it out!

Have a great weekend!



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Hello Readers. Just wanted to explain my long absence in case you’ve missed me terribly.

I’ve been having some weird computer glitch-y things going on between writing, posting and editing (which has nothing to do with wordpress and everything to do with the way I  go about writing in fits and starts, but as work is busy and this blog is a spare-time thing, that is the way it goes) so as soon as I get the glitches worked out I’ll post the most recent Friday Fantasy that I have written. I do think that this will probably alter the time of day at which I post, but I don’t think it will result in anything major otherwise.

In the meantime I’m going to leave you this this little Preservation Mystery, which doubles as a pretty amazing Art Nouveau piece. The more I look at it the more I think it was designed this way….  but feel free to chime in because I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Sorry for the long absence readers. I had a family emergency and then Ash and I went away for my birthday this past weekend.

This really quick post is just to share a picture with you. The pedestrian bridge below is located in Colt State park in Bristol Rhode Island and Ash snapped this pic on his iPhone and I thought it was so picturesque I just had to share.

A new Friday Fantasy coming in a couple days!

Happy Hump day!


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Hey Readers. TGIF! Today’s Fantasy is one of the most famous homes in the country ( in the fields of Architecture, Architectural History and Historic Preservation), so I thought it might be a change of pace to share a relatively well-known house with you. Let’s take a look at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.

The Robie House is the quintessential example of the Prairie Style, and probably the best representative of the style that Frank Lloyd Wright created in the early 1900s. The Prairie Style is characterized by an open, spacious interior layout, long horizontal lines like the landscape of the prairie, low pitched hipped roofs and long banks of windows. The goal of a Prairie building (like any FLW building) is to add to its natural setting rather than dominating it, with an emphasis on craftsmanship.

Built between 1908 and 1910, the Robie house was built for Frederick C. Robie, the 28-year-old Manager of an excelsior  supply company. Shortly after Robie and his family moved in, they had to sell the house due to financial trouble. The house was sold and re-sold several times in the following years, but Wright furnishings stayed with the house when it was sold, fortunately.  Eventually, the Chicago Theological Seminary bought the house with plans to expand their campus.  It narrowly escaped demolition twice at the hands of the Seminary, the final time in 1957, when several vocal advocates for the home, including Wright himself who was 90 years old by then, turned out to protest the demolition. The building was ultimately purchased by a friend of Wright in 1958, who donated it to the University of Chicago.  The University eventually turned over operation of the Robie House to the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust (FLWPT).  The FLWPT undertook a massive restoration that costs over 10 million dollars to bring the home back to its original understated grace and beauty.  They continue to give tours of the house and grounds weekly, Thursday-Monday.

Now for some pictures of the Robie House. (Pictures from Wikipedia)

I hope you enjoyed your architectural history lesson for the day. Have a great weekend.


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Happy Friday readers!

Since Hurricane Irene is currently bearing down on my doorstep, I’ve decided to bring you a hurricane edition of Friday Fantasies.  As we don’t get hurricanes a lot where I am, I’ve decided to take you to hurricane central: Florida, and that can really only mean one thing, folks… Art Deco! Yes, that glorious style that was ubiquitous during the 1920s and 30s that brings to mind shiny platinum, zig-zags and aero-planes.  It’s a style that is know for its creative melding of futurist, almost cubist, lines with sumptuous decorative motifs often drawing inspiration from Egyptian and Aztec roots, such as the great photo below from peacfulresources.com.  Here, acanthus leaves are woven into the sleek lines of the door surround along with geometrical designs, beneath a wide cornice, creating the impression of a grand entrance to an Egyptian temple, for a signature Art Deco look.

Now, I know I’ve wandered a little bit and haven’t introduced today’s Fantasy yet, but that’s because I want you to have a little background on one of my favorite styles before I do!  For any of my Preservation friends out there, you may be a little surprised to hear me admit that anything built after the turn of the 18th century is my favorite (as I am  well known for my distaste for Frank Lloyd Wright and other architects that I consider to have designed “new” architecture.  Yes, I realize that it makes me a bad Preservationist, but everyone is a hypocrite in one way or another…) but Art Deco is, in my opinion, the last great style, and  everything starts to go downhill after that, in my opinion. Which is not so say that there were no good buildings built after the 1930s, it’s just that I think they are fewer and farther between.  But anyway, on with the mini history lesson!  We begin post-WWI: Europe, finding itself broken and lacking a lot of architectural stock, as a result of the war that had just ravaged much of the continent, decided it is time to rebuild.  Since they have been known for their design prowess since the early days of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the French really take the helm.

“Ah, but ‘ow shall we rebuild, mon petite chou?” They ask as they smoke their cigarettes and absently munch on their baguettes (I imagine, because in my head they are sitting in a cafe under the still-newish Eiffel Tower, sipping wine and speaking in an out-ra-geous French ack’sent). The answer? They design a combination of old and new. Neoclassical and Egyptian motifs mingled with sleek lines and bold geometry, in a very Picasso meets Pythagoras way. The biggest boost for Art Deco occurred in 1925, with the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art , where Art Deco reached its apex and was reflected in everything from jewelry and graphic art to architecture, as it reflected a change from the flowing, organic lines of Art Nouveau to the sleek lines of the new futurist and cubist styles that were taking hold. All of this culminated to a style that we Americans recognize most readily in the Chrysler Building. Surprisingly, Art Deco also took hold in a rather surprising place: Florida.  This trend brought about the development of blocks of Art Deco buildings in places such as Miami and South Beach, where they still exist to this very day. That brings us finally to today’s Friday Fantasy: The Carlyle Hotel in Miami. Now, to some, a hotel might not seem like much of a Fantasy, but I’m given to believe (from my extensive television viewing and book reading) that some people actually live in hotels (people like Harvey from USA’s new series, “Suits”, and precocious little Eloise from her book adventures).  That being said, why not fantasize about living in a great hotel?

The Image Below is an historic postcard of the Carlyle from the Drexel Grapevine:

You may recognize the Carlyle as titular nightclub from the movie, “The Bird Cage” . A number of other movies have also been shot at the Carlyle, and for a list of those movies, you can check out this website dedicated to the Carlyle.

Built in 1939 (admittedly pushing toward the end of the Art Deco era), it took its place among a block of Deco buildings known as Ocean Drive (they have fabulous neon at night).  It’s not anywhere near as isolated as seen above. Another interesting design point on the Carlyle: the condos inside look just as sleek and modern as the outside. Explore the website I linked above for more info.

Here is a more recent photo of the Carlyle from the hotel’s Website. If I am ever in Miami this is where I’d like to Stay:

Well that’s all for today, ladies and gents! Stay Dry!


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Hey everyone.

I hurt my back this weekend, so posting will be sparse this week, but hey, it’s summer, so I bet you don’t mind.

Today’s post is a bit of an info-sharing one.  My work, aka Old Stuff Inc.  is one of the sponsor’s of this upcoming shin-dig (you can guess which one if you REALLY want),  so I wanted to let you all know about it.

Check out the link brought to you by Historic New England and make sure you get to Roger Williams University in beautiful Bristol, Rhode Island this October first for the Symposium: Looking Forward:Preservation in New England in the Twenty-First Century 

Have a good one!


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Happy Friday readers, it’s time again for another Friday Fantasy home. This week’s house is a bit of a bonus because it’s three houses in one. What could I mean by this? Well, today’s house is the First Harrison Gray Otis house. “First?”, you might ask. “How many Harrison Gray Otis houses are there?” Well, my friends, the answer to that is three! There are three Harrison Gray Otis houses (Ah, ha,ha ha), all designed for prominent Boston Mayor, Harrison Gray Otis, by his good friend Charles Bulfinch. While today’s house is (technically) the First Harrison Gray Otis house (now owned by Historic New England, though they’ll always be SPNEA (Society for the Protection of New England Antiquities) to me), I’m throwing in a couple bits of information and pictures of the other two Harrison Gray Otis houses because, quite frankly, the Second Harrison Gray Otis house is actually my favorite. Of course, I’m more able to provide you with links and visiting information on the First Harrison Gray Otis house, since the other two houses are privately-owned.  I’ll discuss the First house, just in case you find yourself in Boston and want to take a house tour (which is what Ash and I do when we travel…. so if you are as nerdy as we are, you’ll appreciate this).

Wow, that was a long intro… okay, on with the blurb and pictures. The First Harrison Gray Otis House is located on Cambridge Street in Boston right next to Old West Church. It was designed by the first great American-born architect (in the opinion of many historians), Charles Bulfinch. Constructed in 1796, it is perhaps most known for its third-story lunette.

Historic New England moved the house in the 1920’s when Cambridge Street was widened. It is now connected to several brick row houses, and HNE has some office space there.  The first Harrison Gray Otis house is open year-round for tours, every day except Monday and Tuesday. For more information, see Historic New England’s Website on the house here.

The Second Harrison Gray Otis house (again, my favorite) was built between 1800 and 1802. It is a grander home, situated in the elite and notoriously unnavigable Beacon Hill area of Boston, sited at 85 Mount Vernon street, to be exact. It is said to be the only free standing, single-family home still found on the hill. So, if you happen to be driving around Beacon Hill (I don’t recommended it, walking is so much easier) you should take a look at it.

Finally, the 3rd Harrison Gray Otis House is located at 45 Beacon Street and is now the home of the American Meteorological Society. It is the largest of the 3 houses and the last one that Harrison Gray Otis lived in. It is close to the Boston Common.

That’s all for today. Keep cool out there and have a great weekend.


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