Inspired Design:  A Vision Takes Form

Inspired Design: A Vision Takes Form

Recently I attended a birthday party for a retired friend -- the location of which was his outdoor entertaining area. A multi-year construction project, the site is now nearing completion. Built entirely from scrap or otherwise salvaged items, the structures there...

The Odd Blue Doors Explained…

The Odd Blue Doors Explained…

Much like porch alterations, replacement doors have the ability to change the way a house looks or is perceived. Unfortunately, most people just buy what they like and give little thought to maintaining the architectural integrity of the exterior when purchasing a new...

A Visit to the Cottonwood Ranch

A Visit to the Cottonwood Ranch

Built in three stages beginning in 1885, the house at Cottonwood Ranch in Studley, Kansas, reflects not only the place and time in which it was built, but incorporates some traditions of builder John Fenton Pratt's native Yorkshire, England, as well. The center...

The War On Old Buildings – Part 2

The War On Old Buildings – Part 2

The ongoing war against the remnants of our historic built environment continues unabated. Our previous examination of this topic (Part 1) dealt with elementary school textbooks which propagandized children and instilled a bias against historic buildings in the...

“Reading” an Old House

“Reading” an Old House

Most old houses have had alterations over the years -- very few come down through time just as they were built. Unless a house was altered with an extreme attention to maintaining details, it is usually possible to get a fairly good idea as to what the house looked...

Exploring a Doomed 1950’s Ranch House

Exploring a Doomed 1950’s Ranch House

It's déjà vu all over again! Remember the empty 1880's farmhouse we recently looked at? Well... this ranch house was built a stone's throw away by its former inhabitants -- quite a change of pace! Unfortunately, both houses have extensive termite damage and the new...

Door Hardware, Part Two: 1850 to 1900

Door Hardware, Part Two: 1850 to 1900

In Part One we looked at some types of door hardware which were common prior to the mid-nineteenth century -- latches and rim locks made of iron. While mortise locks were in use, they were not common. Surface-mounted rim locks remained popular in the latter half of...

Auction Action – Part 3

Auction Action – Part 3

This past weekend I attended an annual consignment auction hosted by the Lions Clubs. As usual, there were a few things of architectural or design interest. I didn't buy anything this year because the few things I wanted to bid on were not going to be offered until...

Awkward Alterations, Part Two

Awkward Alterations, Part Two

Today we'll look at two different types of alterations which can negatively impact how we perceive a structure. Sadly, the following examples are fairly tame... there are countless others which are far worse. The first category, Indifference, will highlight houses...

The Piano Nobile

The Piano Nobile

Have you ever thought that some older buildings seem to be oddly proportioned -- perhaps a bit top-heavy? Often there is nothing wrong with their proportions; the problem may instead be with our modern perception of what a building's exterior should look like (and how...

Door Hardware, Part One:  1800 to 1850

Door Hardware, Part One: 1800 to 1850

Door hardware, like other architectural details, can often help to guestimate the age of the house when its history is unknown. However, this method is only reliable when it is known with certainty that the hardware in question is original to the house. Hardware, like...

The Johnson House by Charles Haertling

The Johnson House by Charles Haertling

One of architect Charles Haertling's many fascinating contributions to the city of Boulder, Colorado, is currently on the market allowing a peek inside this interesting house. Known for their frequent mix of modernism and organic architecture, his designs are highly...

Queen Anne Window Sash

Queen Anne Window Sash

The impact original window sash can have in an historic building in terms of enhancing and maintaining architectural integrity is enormous yet frequently undervalued.  In addition to the shape and size of the window openings themselves,...

Inside a 1952 Time Capsule House

Inside a 1952 Time Capsule House

Who doesn't love a good time capsule?  This one, built in 1952 in Gladewater, Texas, has been on Zillow for about 10 days and is already generating lots of interest online; I ran across it when a reader shared it on the always mesmerizing Old House Dreams.  While not...

An Art Deco Facade by S. S. Voigt

An Art Deco Facade by S. S. Voigt

Dominated by large steel windows filled with green slag glass, this Masonic Temple in Oberlin, Kansas, was built in 1931.  The buff brick facade is elaborated with glazed terra cotta ornament which enhances the Art Deco styling of the building.  Although the ground...

Exploring a Big Old Abandoned Farmhouse

Exploring a Big Old Abandoned Farmhouse

Long abandoned, this c. 1905 Folk Victorian farmhouse has unusually nice detailing for its geographic location, even if those details aren't all stylistically consistent!  Though re-sided in the mid-twentieth century, enough of the siding has fallen off to reveal the...

A Weekend of “Treasure Hunting”

A Weekend of “Treasure Hunting”

Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking in the 12th annual Highway 36 "Treasure Hunt", a three-day flea market which stretches across the northernmost tier of Kansas counties.  While I didn't traverse the entire state, I did tackle much of the western half, and...

WPA Rustic:  Let’s Go to the Park!

WPA Rustic: Let’s Go to the Park!

A product of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the city park of Hill City, Kansas, remains as a beautiful and functional example of numerous similar projects scattered around the country.   Built in the WPA Rustic style, the structures found here incorporate...

Random Observations – Part 13

Random Observations – Part 13

  Just back from a road trip!  Today, a collection of miscellaneous structures and details stretching from southwest Nebraska to central Kansas.   There's no particular theme; all just have something of interest:              ...

Remnants of a Sod House

Remnants of a Sod House

Houses built of sod were once plentiful across the Great Plains where trees were scarce.  Built of blocks of earth cut from the ground, the later and more refined versions also incorporated many purchased materials such as windows, doors and dimensioned lumber for the...

Warehousing People – The Sequel

Warehousing People – The Sequel

Last September I posted about a senior storage facility er, "senior apartments" which I found to be disturbing for several reasons.   I recently ran across a similar project which gives the bleak and utilitarian exterior an additional synthetic twist:    ...

A Look at Two House Flips

A Look at Two House Flips

House-flipping has been popular for a long while - and the trend has been made even more popular by television.  Not all flips are created equal, however!  Since I haven't been able to take any road trips lately, I decided to sift through Zillow and find some flips to...

Mary Rockwell Hook: Ahead of Her Time

Mary Rockwell Hook: Ahead of Her Time

Among the numerous imaginative architects who practiced in Kansas City, Missouri, in the early twentieth century was Mary Rockwell Hook.  Her style was reflective of her travels and education; the substantial houses she designed have contributed to the enduring...

Concrete on the Farm c. 1920

Concrete on the Farm c. 1920

In the previous post, we looked at the remains of an early twentieth century farm house.  Today we'll take a look at the role that concrete played on this farm: a barn, stock tank and cistern - all made from it.   Bonus feature: a windmill tower made of scrap metal!...

Ruins of An Early 20th Century Farm

Ruins of An Early 20th Century Farm

Ruined structures have long been a favorite subject for artists because of their frequent poignant beauty.  While the term "ruin" typically conjures up images of ancient stone structures crumbling in lush landscapes beneath invasive trees and vines, a similar - but...