A Stylectomy in Progress

No, stylectomy  is not a word, but it should be, because this house has had its style excised from it.

More frequently than I would like, I run across houses which have been brutalized from the perspective of architectural integrity.  Today I ran across this house and was saddened to see that it appeared to have survived for well over a century basically intact.  The scars or “ghosts” of former features told the story.  Two porches had been stripped off and original wood windows had been replaced with vinyl units.  Window casings and corner boards have similarly been discarded.

When I see such things, I frequently go to Google Maps to see if Street View had recorded the previous look.  In this case it had, though it was in 2008 and the image quality is quite poor.  But it’s good enough to show the wasted potential here.  While not a stellar example of the style, the house did have a modest Italianate character and might best be described as a vernacular style with both Italianate and Queen Anne influences.  Until recently it had retained its original appearance and ornament – an increasingly rare thing to find anywhere.

This house could have been easily restored as all of its exterior integrity remained.  Now, however, it will forever be locked into an increasingly common mediocrity.


“Ghosts” of porch pilasters give a hint as to what the house once looked like.  At left, a former window opening yields to a Mediterannean-inspired door c. 1975 while at right a former doorway has been enclosed to frame a curiously narrow vinyl window unit.


More vinyl and curious fenestration.


The house as it was before style-reassignment surgery was forced upon it.


Such wasted potential!  I wonder – what this place will look like in five years?


2 Responses to A Stylectomy in Progress

  1. Wow! That is the kind of thing that makes me so sad. I have thought a lot about this, and really don’t know why people don’t respect old things. I used to work at a house renovation lender, and the things people would do would drive me crazy.

    My first thought is: is the new material better than the old. If not, fix, don’t replace. Hardwood beats vinyl, cast iron beats plastic, etc.

    I guess we need to bring shop class back. People don’t seem to know that they can fix things.

    Sorry, preaching to the choir here.

    • No apologies necessary! I agree that basic instruction such as shop class needs to make a comeback. A few years ago I was talking with my high-school aged nephew and I asked him if he was taking any shop classes at school (always my personal favorite class) and he implied that he was above that sort of thing and had more important classes to take. I asked him, “How will you know how to fix or repair things when you have your own home?” His response was “Well, I really won’t need to do that.” The implication was that he would just always be able to hire out any such task. His arrogance and short-sightedness were very telling and, I fear, quite common perspectives for many his age.

      Our schools have failed miserably in recent years to teach the basics… including reading, writing, and history. Without a grasp of these subjects, and a bit of do-it-yourself know-how, we are doomed.

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