I thought we would digress this week from the treasures of old and focus on a few treasures of Salt Lake. For all of you east coasters, hopefully this will broaden your view of Utah (as it did mine). For the locals, hopefully this will open your eyes to some beauties you are privileged enough to have in your own back yard. We will return to more of my favorite things next week.
Let us explore a few of the fabulous historic properties in central Salt Lake....and just enjoy. (And maybe learn a bit about the facades at the same time.) Hey, I teach now, I can no longer just have fun, I must always inform as well.
I must also apologize for all the electrical wiring (please consider burying these SLC) and trees (I should have taken pictures in the winter) and the cars and the no-parking signs (not sure which is worse).
Contestant # 1: The New Englander
Really, how can one reconcile this lovely rambler with the rough and tumble pioneer state of Utah? It even has a widow's walk! Wasn't the whole point of the widow's walk to look out to sea for your mariner-husband's eminent return to Marblehead or Portsmouth? Not much sea to see here.
In fact, the widow's walk developed from Italianate revival architecture. During the Victorian era and the Victorian's never-ending infatuation with ever more elaborate and exotic styles, the Italianate (an over-the-top revival of the Renaissance) took off in the 1830s and lasted well into the 1870s. What does the widow's walk have to do with Italy, you may ask? The widow's walk form is essentially a bad version of a cupola or balustrade. Here is what the great architects of the day were looking at:
And here is how they interpreted it:
See the little cupola at the top there?
And here is how the humble mariner/builder of New England port towns interpreted it:
And finally we get to the Utah version:
A bit of a long shot, but you get the general point they were going for. This bastardized version of the cupola/balustrade did, however, turn out to be very handy when watching for storms or your loved ones who likely perished in said storms.
Contestants # 2 &3: The Federal Ladies
Talk about a perfect Federal-style entry door. I love everything Federal (almost as much as everything Empire). While the overall form of the home does not conform, this entry is perfect.
Here is a neighbor, which is a pretty good overall representation of the Federal, but lacking the door of perfection. Of course, these are all later revivals, as the Federal architecture style flourished from about 1780 to the 1820s. No SLC in those days.
Here is one of my favorite originals from the East Coast. The keys to the style are: the brick, the simplified facade, boxy shape, symmetrical layouts of windows and doors, the hipped roof, and of course the fab doorway with a fanlight above and sidelights with interlaced geometric patterning for mullions.
The Otis Gray House in Boston.
Contestant # 4: Are We in Charleston Yet?
Charleston, SC has some of the most stunning architecture on earth. One can just feel the southern hospitality seeping in.... and this Greek Revival style property of Salt Lake certainly gives a feel of the old South. You can't beat lots of really, really large columns.
But if you want really, really, really big columns, take a look at the Milford Plantation. I was privileged enough to visit the Milford Plantation while studying at Sotheby's. This is a private residence owned by financier turned historic restorer, Richard Hampton Jenrette. It was built in 1839 and almost destroyed by Union troops in 1865. The Union commander was so taken by the property it was spared. THANK GOD! Well done Commander! Since it is privately owned, there are very few photos online of this property , but there is a fabulous book (Adventures With Old Houses by Jenrette) which everyone should go find!
Contestant # 5: Ms. Queen Anne
The Queen Anne revival is probably one of the most recognizably Victorian type of home. Many of these gems have fallen into disrepair as they often require a lot of maintenance. However, this beauty has been very well preserved. Enough said here, I think.
OK, so this is not a stunner like the others on the list, but it just spoke to me. It is such a simple block house and could have been so plain and dull. But it's not. It has a personality. Even despite the horrid 1970s plastic awnings over the windows. They work, painting as they are. And this house makes a good point, being that a property doesn't have to be a mansion to be in good taste.
So what is the difference between Italianate Revival and Italian Renaissance Revival architecture? The Italianate is a loose and romantic stylization of anything Italian (or anything conceived as being somewhat Italian at the time). While the Italian Renaissance Revival took a much more serious view of things. If at all possible, there was a desire to directly copy elements of Renaissance architecture. These scrolls are a good example. They are highly ordered and strictly follow classical forms.
But before I digress even further, I will stop....for fear of creating the longest blog in blogging history. We might have to revisit this topic in the future, but for now I will only ask you to cast your vote for your favorite (if you can decide)!