Category Archives: Observations

Varied Maintenance c. 1900

While recently unpacking boxes of stuff, I was struck by the number of antique photos I have which show buildings or houses which are in disrepair or in need of paint.  Another demonstrates that even during the Victorian era, some people struggled with painting houses in an attractive, coordinated manner… the problem is certainly not new.  Here are three old photos which all reflect on the past in their own interesting way:


Clearly in need of some fresh paint and shutter repair, this house appears to have been built around 1800 with a porch update from around 1860.  Someone was clearly fond of the house to have it photographed in less-than-optimal condition.  It appears that someone had started painting the porch but never finished.


Though faded, this visually quirky Queen Anne style house appears to be in good condition.  The paint is likely the original finish after 15 years or more of weathering.


Though the photo is black and white, it is plain to see that the distribution of colors (whatever they were) was haphazard and not especially well-planned.  Sashes in 3 of the windows are painted a light color while they are painted a dark color in the fourth.  The corner boards are painted a dark color yet support a frieze in the gable which appears to be the same light color as the siding.  The two porches are very different, yet each has had details picked out in a starkly contrasting manner which emphasize their differences further.  Appearing to be recently painted, this house is proof that people made bad aesthetic decisions more than 100 years ago, too!






Obliterating History

Insensitivity toward the artistic compositions known as building facades has been going on, well, pretty much forever.  Clearly many people do not value buildings rendered in brick, stone, etc.,  in the same way they do an artistic composition rendered in oil on a canvas. Few, for example, would buy an artwork and then commission another artist to add… Continue Reading

Full Frontal Garage

Some houses – especially newer ones – appear to be more garage than house.  In the early 20th century when cars were still coming of age, they were stored away in a garage at the back of the lot just as horses and carriages had been in prior decades.  Garages were understood to be secondary to… Continue Reading

Painting the House c. 1915

Everyone who reveres historic buildings understands the importance of maintenance.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people today who do not revere our historic buildings and who do not think that they are especially important.  A century ago the concept of actual maintenance was promoted in the public schools.  Today advertising promotes the concept of “maintenance-free” products such… Continue Reading

Answered Questions

The following photograph is one side of a stereo pair dating to the 1870’s.  I’ve had the stereoview for many years and had often wondered about it.  What became of the house?  Who built it?  Is it still standing?  I had to know.  Fortunately, someone had penciled “Gen. Gridley’s house” and “Grove St.” on the… Continue Reading