Author Archives: Architectural Observer

Before and…………..After!

When houses in a neighborhood are built by the same developer (and at roughly the same time), they tend to look a lot alike.  Some developers will make an effort to introduce a little variety, either by changing exterior colors or materials, or sometimes by using several different designs and alternating them.  That was the case on a tree-lined street in Philadelphia which was developed in the 1920’s.   This particular block includes numerous twin houses (also known as semi-detached houses) which came in three different styles.  The twins built on the four corners of this block exhibit a mix of Craftsman and Colonial Revival detailing.  The twins in-between are either (1) sort of Colonial or, (2) Prairie/Italian Renaissance Revival in their styling.  They all look like houses of the 1920’s.  Well, almost all of them.  One of them stands out.  It didn’t always stand out; it used to be a mirror image of its twin, a Prairie/Italian Renaissance Revival.

Thanks to Chad for sharing this place with us!  All images are courtesy Google Street View.

First, we’ll take a look at typical houses on the street:


These four houses, styled with a mix of Prairie and Italian Renaissance Revival influences, are flanked by twins which are vaguely Colonial Revivalish.


These twins are representative of how others like them were intended to look.  Now… scroll down to see what happened to a similar twin on the same block…..














Are you not impressed?


Guess which house retains the least architectural integrity!  The house appears to be in drag, but dressed up as what?


Brick Queen Anne Transformed into Mock Tudor

  At first glance this house in Council Bluffs, Iowa, appears to be a Tudor Revival from the 1920’s or 30’s   Closer inspection reveals that the house began as an 1880’s Queen Anne.  Sorry about the photo quality… these images were taken from a real estate listing found on  Listing information indicates that… Continue Reading

Architectural Integrity and the Lustron

A building which retains its architectural integrity is one which has been maintained as it was built and intended to be.  When buildings are altered through remodeling or the installation of “maintenance -free” windows or siding, integrity is compromised.  Such compromise is increasingly commonplace.  On rare occasions, both wood and masonry buildings can be altered… Continue Reading

Backdating Wall Cabinets

Why would anyone update when it’s just as easy to backdate?  After all, there’s not much appealing design out there these days; design from the early 20th century is almost always a sure bet to be more interesting than whatever has been marketed for the past 40 years.  Recently a friend acquired some cabinetry which had… Continue Reading