Architect, Landscape Architect, Urban Designer, Land Use Planner, Environmental Observer

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where in the United States is this house....?

it's in the city limits of a large metropolitan area...

is it -

A. Los Angeles?

B. Seattle?

C. New Orleans?

D. Boston?

E. Chicago?

F. Dallas?

sadly, the answer is New Orleans !

So, what's wrong? Aretha Franklin said it -


Consider this article...

Stephanie Bruno / The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

Three spectacular Arts and Crafts bungalows are the highlights of the 8200 block of Apricot Street, which has a mix of house types and styles, including some that aren't yet renovated.
Sometimes, when I am especially lucky, friends or readers will invite me to visit their neighborhoods and take a walk around. They may have noticed an unusual house they think needs explaining or an especially appealing block they think I'll like.

That's exactly what happened this week, when a neighborhood leader in Northwest Carrollton e-mailed me an invitation to take a Street Walk there. And although she suggested a stroll on Pritchard Place, with its large and handsome homes, I find the 8200 block of Apricot Street irresistibly interesting.

Anatomy of the block

I walk the block a couple of times before I get a handle on it. What I find is a street-scape half-way to perfection. On the Dublin end are three high-style Arts and Crafts bungalows, each beautifully restored. At the Dante end are three more 20th-century houses, each having appealing traits, but none of them have been renovated. And smack dab in the middle is a vacant lot created by a tornado in 2007.

It's an unusual situation, but one that for me makes the block that much more intriguing. I can just imagine how it will shine when the three buildings at the Dante end are restored and a new home rises on the vacant lot.

I start at the corner of Dublin and Apricot and walk west toward Dante. The very first house, a gray-shingled bungalow with white trim and red sash, stops me in my tracks as I study its details. Like the most interesting of Craftsman designs, it has multiple rooflines, gable detailing that serves as attic ventilation, exposed rafter tails, clustered columns atop a pedestal, and a composite entry that includes multi-paned doors and sidelights. The floor plan and facade are asymmetrical, in true bungalow style, the front-gabled entry on the right and the end-gabled wing on one side.

But it's the foundation that really gets my attention. Rather than a smooth stucco, it is embedded with hefty chunks of rock and boulders, a high-style Craftsman treatment. In California, where the treatment originated, the rocks and boulders expressed the preference for using native materials.

Next door, a vivid red bungalow nestles behind a white picket fence and a profusion of blooms and colors. For a minute, I can't decide which to focus on first: the bougainvillea, hibiscus and yellow jasmine in the garden, or the wonderful details on the house. The house wins out, of course. I notice it is shingled like the gray house on the corner, and I even spot a few boulders in the chimney construction.

Unlike shotgun houses, which usually don't have architectural features on their sides, California bungalows are as interesting to look at from the sides as they are from the front. There are bays, banks of windows, elements in the side gables and many more features. I remember this as I walk and make a point of stopping to look at the side of the red house before moving on.

The yellow house that comes next departs slightly from the pattern established by the first two. It is covered in stucco rather than wood shingles, and the columns that support the porch overhang are stucco instead of wood. Like the other two, though, it has an asymmetrical facade and floor plan. The low, wide dormer in the side wing is a hallmark of the style, as are the multi-paned windows.

From the vantage point of the vacant lot, I can better admire the side of the house. The roof overhang is very deep, with angle brackets in place. A bay extends outward and incorporates a bank of three windows. The white bands visible on the front wrap around the side, adding definition and breaking up the expanse of rough-textured stucco. These are details you'll miss driving by in a car; you only can see them from the sidewalk.

The two duplexes and a neoclassical revival double shotgun complete the block. I make note of their promising features, then mentally renovate them. First I remove the damaged siding, then I repaint in colors that will emphasize the houses' best features. I accent the front porches, the arched tops over the doors on the duplexes, the lovely diamond-patterned stained glass on the shotgun. As I leave, I make a note to revisit in a few months to monitor their progress.

. . .

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