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HOMES


HouseCalls Michael Good


R


estoring a vintage house can be a bit like adopting a stray dog. You’re not quite sure what you’ve got, but you’re


sure it’s special. And you’re right—in both cases. That’s because the house, whether you know it or not, has a pedigree. The dog, not so much. But that’s probably a good thing. Randomly selected DNA can often lead to a remarkably healthy—and interest- ing—dog. With a house, however, there’s something to be said for planning. Although there was a lot of inventiveness, scientific discovery and social and politi- cal change between the World Wars, taste in houses was fairly conservative. Revival styles, like Colonial, Spanish and Tudor were the rage, while Modernist houses by Gill and Wright languished on the shelves. If you live in a house built between the wars, it’s likely a Revival, with easily identifiable attributes that reveal its particular style—in much the same way that a braying bark and floppy ears tell you there’s a beagle lurking somewhere within that beguiling little puppy you just picked up from the pound.


Colonial Revival We may think of the Colonial as the quintessential American house style, but it really has roots in Rome by way of Great Britain, and is more properly called Geor- gian. (Think of the White House, Jeffer- son’s Monticello and scores of neat little clapboard-sided North Park bungalows with small porches supported by narrow, round columns.) Inspiration goes back to Andrea Palladio, the Renaissance architect whose Four Books of Architecture explained and codified the esthetics of ancient Rome, and Robert Adam (1728-1792), the Scottish architect who studied Palladio and helped revive Classical architecture. The White House is a copy of an Adam design—from Dublin. Some hallmarks of the style: Classi- cal Greek or Roman columns, hipped roof, double-hung sash windows, full-height col- umns for two-story examples—sometimes surmounted by a gable with dentil molding, giving the impression of a Greek temple. In “high-style” examples, there can be swags, garlands, inset panels and medallions. The entry often has a classical entablature, or a fanlight, sidelight, pediment or balustraded porch. Perhaps the biggest give-away is the white color. The popularity of Colonial Revival style continued well into the 1950s, meaning that for many years every house in older neighborhoods, whatever the style, was painted white.


Spanish Colonial Revival Spanish Colonial Revival received a boost


from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. The fair’s architect, Bertram


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What Kind of House Are You? Getting to Know Your Home’s DNA


The style is extremely diverse. It can incorporate the pediments of the Missions, the thick adobe walls and deep-set windows of the Ranchos, the colorful, symmetrical tile of the Moors, Baroque windows from Spain, turrets from 14th century castles and stained glass windows from medieval churches. Arches can look like something from the Alhambra, the California Missions, or a Tuscan villa. All that variety prob- ably has something to do with the Spanish Revival’s popularity. A neighborhood like Kensington can seem all of one piece, yet infinite in its variety.


Spanish Revival


Hallmarks of the style: Red tile roofs (of course), white plaster walls (sometimes with brushed effects), a single large, gable-end window, small, completely useless metal balconies, arches, arcades, and patios. In place of wood trim, effort and expense was put into elaborate and colorful tile work in the bath and kitchen. With the porch gone and a patio in the rear, the slow American migration to the backyard began with the Spanish Revival.


Pueblo Revival Colonial Revival Colonial Revival


The oldest Spanish house in America is in New Mexico. But it doesn’t look like this. The Pueblo Revival was invented for the tourist industry, to popularize Santa Fe as a destination. It incorporates some elements of American Indian domestic architecture, along with what the Span- ish were building when they first came to New Mexico in the 1600s. Some elements, such as the wooden lintels, can be found in some Spanish Colonial Revival style homes. Hallmarks of the Style: Flat roof, recessed arcades, battered walls that rise above the roof to form parapets. Vigas (round wooden beams) extend through walls. Canales project through walls to drain the roof. Wood or iron grills cover windows. Rough stucco exterior, painted brown. Turquoise-painted trim.


Craftsman Style The Craftsman bungalow, popular Tudor


Goodhue, was enamored with a highly decorative variation of Spanish architecture practiced between 1680 and 1780 by the Churriguera family of architects. Goodhue put the Churrigueresque style to spectacular use in the California Tower, which remains the centerpiece of Balboa Park. Over the


years, Spanish Colonial Revival, which encompasses a number of influences and styles, from Andalusia to Monterrey, has become the predominant style of Southern California. Goodhue, a New Yorker, turned out to be one of the most influential Califor- nian architects of the 20th century.


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from the first decade of the 20th century, survived well into the ’30s. Even where it seemed to disappear, it survived with a dif- ferent façade (usually Colonial or Spanish Colonial Revival). Hallmarks of the style: Broad front porch with battered piers; asymmetrically placed front door and win- dows; prominent fireplace, bookcases and china cabinet—usually of clear-finished fir or hardwood; Open floor plan, without doors separating dining and living room. Exterior usually of clapboard, though sometimes wood shingles or stucco. Low-slung gabled roof, deep overhangs, painted in earth tones, with wood shingle or asphalt shingle roof. One, or one-and-a- half, storeys.


see House, page 13


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