Louis Curtiss, who left his mark on Kansas City and other locations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was one of those incredibly rare architects who was just weird enough to do really, really, interesting work. While often compared to Frank Lloyd...read more
As you last remember, the bunkhouse was looking a little rough. It was dirty, dark, damaged, and downright depressing. Owner Jim wanted to not only put life and light back into the dilapidated structure, but put to use some of the salvaged woodwork and materials he...read more
A modest 1 -1/2 story Nebraska house with gable front, built around 1880, was given a stylistic makeover in the mid-twentieth century. The new look, reminiscent of an eighteenth century saltbox, was created by adding a lean-to addition with fireplace to one side...read more
While driving through a sparsely populated area of southwestern Nebraska I encountered a depressing amount of Victorian-era houses (which had once been grand for their locale) in advanced stages of deterioration. Despite their weathered facades, these houses were...read more
I drove by a house today which is undergoing an unfortunate and all-too-common procedure: it is losing its architectural integrity and will be gaining lots of vinyl and other synthetic products. I caught the house mid-way though the process... replacement windows...read more
Today it was time once again for the Lions Clubs' annual consignment auction... an event generally I think of as marking the near arrival of Spring. It was breezy outside, but at least it wasn't snowing as it had last year. As there wasn't anything that I couldn't...read more
I love looking at houses on Zillow.com - you never know what will turn up. I used to look only at old houses there (those built in the early twentieth century or earlier). But lately I find myself drawn to the clumsy and distorted newer houses which are increasingly...read more
This Sears Langston caught my eye while searching for an entirely different house on Zillow. The distinctive and memorable porch posts remain to proclaim their Sears heritage despite a rather clumsy addition on the side of the house. Images from the 1918 Sears...read more
Long before it became fashionable and trendy, living on a small scale was quite common. In most towns and cities, the earliest houses were built on a modest and utilitarian scale. Many such structures, particularly those of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,...read more
Old buildings can be subversive? You may ask, somewhat incredulously, "How?". Well, quite simply, old buildings (if examined closely enough) have the very real ability to reveal the shortcomings of our present age - and thereby have the potential to encourage people...read more
The Architectural Observer rarely looks at “important” buildings; the focus is upon overlooked ones. Some will be antique survivors which have come through time surprisingly intact. Many will be old buildings which have been altered without regard to their stylistic integrity while others will be new construction which never had any stylistic integrity to begin with.
The decline of architectural integrity is just one more facet of the prolific and ongoing devolution of our culture. The Architectural Observer calls it like it is! Are there more important and pressing issues facing us now? Yes, but everyone needs a distraction from those other issues once in a while. And besides, this is relevant and much more fun!
There are three kinds of distractions here:
OBSERVATIONS highlights the lowlights of our built environment – and observes occasional architectural details which might otherwise be overlooked.
PLAN BOOK AND KIT HOUSES examines structures built from mail order plans or actual kits.
DRAG QUEEN ARCHITECTURE showcases buildings built in one style but which are trying to pass themselves off as a different style.
Let’s face it; we built better buildings in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than we do now. Let’s take a cue from the past and start to remember how buildings are supposed to look and function. Thanks for joining me – please use the contact form for polite inquiry or to gripe at me.