George Clooney’s character in the movie Michael Clayton works for a prominent law firm in the capacity of janitor, a lean, mean cleaner of situations gone askew. Have you ever Googled the word askew? This page alone proves the gang over at Google has quite a sense of humor. Getting back to the George Clooney reference. I am the Michael Clayton here at Places In The Home. Keeping these home fires burning, running smooth and in balance comes with a certain amount of stress. Being stressed is not good. Stressed is desserts spelled backwards, but my backwards is big enough, if you know what I mean. Enter a fat-free, stress-free and well, free Rx for the mind, body and soul. An afternoon drive viewing houses of the historic Garden District clears away the cobwebs and reminds me how much I love what I do.
Smooth jazz provides the background music while arches, and columns, and pillars (oh, my!) provide architectural eye candy. A self-guided tour along brick-lined streets and Louisiana bayous sets a serene scene.
A cold front rolling across the area is to blame for the dark lighting in some of the images.
Colonial Revival. Craftsman. Bungalow.
Italianate. Palladian. Georgian. Just to name a few architectural styles of the houses of the historic Garden District.
Modern architectural elements stand out among the grounds of these stately homes and manicured gardens. The blooms of spring will make a grand statement and give me yet another reason to visit the Garden District.
One of several antique horse head hitching posts in the neighborhood.
The curb appeal allure is first found in the brick-lined street fronting the detailed brickwork of this single family stunner.
Part II of our Louisiana Parade of Homes features local residential properties reminiscent of Louisiana history and culture.
Bayous and stately homes line the brick streets of the historic Garden District.
Louisiana history is a melange of varied cultures and influences. The accent mark is well placed over the French and Spanish influence that frames our architectural elements, Créole and Cajun cuisine and the law of the Louisiana land. Louisiana law is different from the other 49 states.
Our state Civil Code is adopted from the Napoleonic Code. Originally based on ancient Roman law, the Napoleonic Code deals in civil law with French and Spanish codes. What is known as counties in the other 49 are known as parishes here in Louisiana. You say antiquated, I say unique. History and tradition holds a court of a different kind here in Louisiana.
Since the dawn of home owning and renting time, American houses have come to know the weekend project(s). Regardless of the style of house or year of construction, at some point something will be in need of repair, replacement, renovation or remodel. That time came once again last week here at Places In The Home. The original air conditioning system in our fifty year old ranch style house finally bit the dust last week. It had a good life and provided hours of cold in the summer and warm in the winter air. Dave the Builder lined up the new system and the crew to work on Saturday, I stocked up on bottled water, sports drinks and cooling towels, and we were off to the races.
Sometimes you have to go through the ugly to get to the beauty of the sweet, sweet cold air on the other end of the air conditioning project.
If I had a nickel for every “we did just fine without air conditioning back in the good old days” comment my mother made during the central air install project this past weekend, I would be paying cash in all nickels for a new Nest thermostat. The subject of the good old days was immediately dropped as the first blast of cold air circulated around the room. My mother was the Road Runner to Dave the Builder’s Wile E. Coyote getting to the nearest vent blowing cold air, a feature of little to no presence in the main living and kitchen area of Places In The Home for the biggest part of last week.
You could hear the call to turn the thermostat to arctic and let the cooling down begin a mile away! I don’t believe I am in the minority here when I say there is nothing good about any day past, present or future when it comes to being hot.
My thoughts and prayers honestly do go out to the men and women who work outdoors in oppressive temperatures and heat indexes best described as dangerous. Dave the Builder hits the door some evenings after a 12+ hour workday in the Louisiana summer sun and humidity drained of all energy and will. Air conditioning plays a huge role in our lives, both at work and at home.
“We’ll make that into a sitting room where we can sit and talk… and the breeze can get at us.”
That line from the movie Giantmakes me wonder how people lived without air conditioning? Dust storms, tumbleweeds and brutal heat set the story of life on a Texas ranch in the 1920s. I would need a don’t talk to me I’m dying from this heat sitting room. Whenever I watch Giant and other classic films and television shows that show life and homes without air conditioning, I thank the conditioned air gods for Willis Carrier, the inventor of the first modern air-conditioning system. Bless the heart of this brilliant, brilliant man! Before Mr. Carrier’s invention however, the masses depended upon commercial and residential design features of the times to promote airflow and cross ventilation.
Screened sleeping porches, winding wraparound porches and deep eaves and awnings accommodated shade seekers, porch sitters and night sleepers from the harsh direct sunlight and heat of the day and gave protection from mosquitoes at night. Porch sitting and sippin’ in the late afternoon and after dinner (supper) was as much about letting the breeze get at you as it was an exercise in proper digestion.
A transom window proved crucial to upper air flow. Found above doors, a transom moved the warm air hovering at ceiling level to the higher floors or large open windows. Opening windows and doors at opposite ends of center halls allowed air to flow between areas of the house.
My brother removed all the working transoms and hardware from above the doors throughout his house during the initial renovation and restoration of his 1903 Victorian home. The transoms in his first house, a Victorian one story built in 1910, never worked properly and the hardware proved difficult at best to operate. The point of this explanation and pictorial example is to illustrate the architectural measures taken in the construction of homes and the thought to comfort given to air flow routes in the days devoid of air conditioning.
The long hot summer of 2015 has quite a few days and nights yet to go before relief is in sight. Thanks to Willis Carrier, Dave the Builder’s HVAC skills and the local power company Places In The Home won’t be without air conditioning. Remind me of this post if I dare complain about the cold of winter.
Architectural integrity through architectural elements is the indelible mark of historic homes and landmarks.
It is usually the only tangible proof of bygone golden eras ruled by classic styles.
Restoration efforts and day to day upkeep of historic homes can be financially mind boggling. The sheer expense of replicating these styles in today’s market can create financial hurdles difficult to clear. Aging and changing neighborhoods coupled with a natural progression away from this style of living places most of these homes in the private sector on an endangered species list.
The craftsmanship, detail to details, and artisan skills used to envision, shape, form, and build these homes fascinate me. Over the years we have had the opportunity to tour, consult on, and donate antique pieces to several state and privately owned historic homes.
As much as I love antiques I will walk right by a period piece without so much as a glance to get to the heart of the historic matter. Architectural elements grab and hold my attention.
In our city we have a block that is known as Mansion Row. Anchoring the far left corner of the block stands the Thompson-Hargis Mansion. Built in 1907, this Greek Revival home with characteristic Ionic columns,porte-cochère, triangle pediment, and transom entry was once a jewel in the crown of our city history. The exterior and grounds showed the weathered look of sun and time- nothing paint and repair could not fix. The property was structurally sound and the architectural integrity intact.
The furnishings were removed years ago, the windows and doors boarded, and the grand dame beautifully sat idling until this past Sunday evening when she fell victim to a senseless demise.
Neighbors who recall the elegance of what was and admirers of what could have been mourn the total loss of of property, history, and hope.
It is a sad turn of events and an even sadder realization that original, historic, and one of a kind architectural elements were destroyed. Dollars do not factor into the equation, there is no replacement value for the architectural integrity of this 105 year old home. RIP Thompson-Hargis Mansion.
Preserving history and restoring things runs in my family. Dave the Builder and I preserve antique and architectural pieces. My brother purchased, moved, and restored his circa 1903 Victorian home – his second property to restore. I am currently in the process of photographing his home to feature in a future post. Stay tuned.