Buildings change over time, whether in appearance or function and one often affects the other. Sometimes changes are for access, protection from the elements, modernization, energy efficiency or maybe someone just wanted a change. Consider these entrance alterations as examples. Some entrances are seasonal, but others are meant to stay.
This example is shows the entrance to a restaurant (not shown in the photo is a small (obviously fake) chimney on the longer slope of the roofline of the entrance – like a cottage style). The building itself is the Hotel Vermont – historic image below.
Source: Boston Public Library.
As you can see, the entrance doesn’t exactly match the building. But it is located on the side, and not the front. What do you think?
Next, consider this shed roof front entrance addition in Johnson, VT. This entrance is likely for weather protection, and it appears that there was some attempt to blend it to the building. But the red clapboard, the shed roof, the obvious white gutter (which is only pouring water directly to the foundation), and the vinyl door… well, it leaves much to be desired. The historic integrity of this facade is obscured, as well as the streetscape.
Johnson, VT – located on the main thoroughfare
Both of these examples are obvious additions. Do you find one more obtrusive than the other? In terms of streetscape and architectural integrity, I’d say the Johnson example is incompatible whereas the Burlington example is acceptable. Often this determination is dependent on which facade has the addition.
What do you think? And for either one, how would you improve it?
The Vermont State House with its gardens in full bloom. How lucky it feels to see this building every day and observe it with the changing seasons.
The State House in the summer and winter.
Bloomfield, VT is a small crossroads on the Connecticut River. Across the bridge is Stratford, NH. The general store is closed and not many houses populate this town. This church sits next to the town offices, the former school. Based on the piles of boxes in the windows, the church is abandoned or sorely neglected and used for storage. This poor thing has seen better days (note the missing steeple). The neighbors’ stuff is piled in the rear and on one side of the building, so I didn’t snap photos of all elevations.
Churches seem to be common abandoned or neglected buildings. What can we do about these? Another topic for another time, perhaps.
Can you name the of window seen in the gable peak? Do you think it is original to this structure?
Huntington Community Church in Huntington, VT.
Historic schoolhouses are commonly found throughout Vermont, some converted to residences, some as museums, some abandoned, some creative rehabilitations, and some remain in educational use. In the 1930s schools faced state regulation, and had to comply with standards in order to become a Vermont “Standard School.” These regulations were for the quality of education. Schools were also required to have a certain amount of light (which is why you see the bank of windows on schoolhouses). When schools met these standards they displayed a plaque (see image below).
Very few have historic playgrounds in the school yard, most likely because of change in use and change in playground regulations. What an exciting find to see this playground at a school in Craftsbury, Vermont.
Historic schoolhouse in Craftsbury, VT.
With a small playground on the property.
A Standard School.
The playground has three apparatuses: jungle gym, swings, and a merry-go-round.
The jungle gym seemed so small; it must be for younger kids!
Swings, with a great view over Craftsbury. The metal poles are stamped with presumably the name of the school (too faded to read clearly) and “Craftsbury Vermont.”
It’s a bit low to the ground, but it’s still completely functional.
A bicycle rack!
The date of this playground equipment is likely the 1920s/1930s. I’ve yet to find a giant stride; have you?
Spring and warm, sunny weather make Vermont’s downtowns even more appealing. Shown here is Brattleboro, VT.
Monroe Hall at the University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg VA.
Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.
S is for Shutter
Real (functioning) shutters on a house in Clarendon Springs, VT.
Shutters adorn buildings for reasons greater than aesthetics; shutters also have a functional history associated with buildings. Originally solid wood panels on hinges, until the late 18th century when wood slat shutters were introduced, these traditionally movable panels were used for insulation, light control, privacy and protection from the elements. Consider it early air conditioning and thermal panes. Shutters can be found on the interior or the exterior of a building.
Shutters are associated with many architectural styles (according to Virginia & Lee McAlester in A Field Guide to American Houses) including French Colonial, Federal, Georgian, Greek Revival, Colonial Revival and French Eclectic. However, you can readily find shutters on any architectural style if you look. On some of these styles, shutters were meant to be functional – often on the earlier styles such as French Colonial and Georgian. During the wide-ranging Colonial Revival era, shutters became decorative.
How can you distinguish between functional shutters and decorative shutters? It’s simple, actually. Functional shutters, when closed, will cover the entire window. Decorative shutters are too small for the window openings. Consider the ranch houses of the 1950s that have shutters on either side of a large picture window. Relate that to the actual purpose of shutters, and it seems a bit silly, yes? Also, functional shutters will have hinges and hardware called “shutter dogs” which hold them in place when not being used. Many shutters today are plastic and simply attached on either side of a window. An aesthetic preference, though architectural historians find non-functional, inappropriately sized shutters to be ridiculous. (Just a peak into their architectural world!)
Does your house have shutters? What do you think of functional shutters? What do you think of shutters for decoration?
St. George’s Church in Fredericksburg, VA.