What you see here is the interior of a a house, gutted of sheetrock and insulation (thanks, Hurricane Sandy). For orientation, the image shows a junction of two walls, where a wall from the main block of the house meets the wall of a now enclosed porch. The pop quiz question: what would you call the material in the center of the image? In other words, identify the grooved wood pieces.
Remember this one?
Research on this building has not been successful so far (hence the delay), other than to turn up the following postcard, from the Cinema Treasures website, which dates the photograph to 1941.
It looks remarkably similar, doesn’t it? This building also housed a movie auditorium theater with 500 seats. Today the building still serves as town offices and a theater/event space.
However, this still begs the question: is this a typical building style and where else does one exist? That part of the quiz I cannot answer. the mismatched brick still seems like a mystery to me. If you know or have another example, please share.
Still hot where you live? It certainly is here in Vermont. So, let’s revisit Friday’s pop quiz, which asked you to describe the issues in this image:
The comments seemed to focus on the architectural conservation issues and maintenance problems of the over-the-door air conditioning unit. While those are all good points, it wasn’t exactly what this question was getting at. It was meant more in the vein of this post about air conditioner units in the window of historic houses. If you missed it over the weekend, here is the second image to help you with your answer.
In this image, the air conditioning units are at least screened rather than exposed. Does that help? Without maintenance issues, what is really going on with air conditioning units installed in doorways? Think about it for a second. Doorways often have sidelights and transoms, yes?
These air conditioning units are installed in the place of the transom. The glass transoms are so often removed in favor of the units. So often they are not concealed like the first image; but, even in the second image, they are still visible to anyone who is looking.
In other words, there is a loss of architectural integrity on many storefronts. We often talk about the downside of replacing windows, but how often do we mention doorways? Frequently entrances are altered to meet modern building codes, which sadly can be a devastating change to fenestration. Architectural integrity aside, when has an air conditioning unit ever been attractive? It never seems like a friendly way to greet customers (and the stability, or lack thereof, seems to worry many of you, based on the comments!). Obviously, this is a preservation pet peeve of mine. It might be one of yours now, too.
What are the other options aside from installing air conditioners in the transom? Are there none, or is it just the easiest thing to do?
Last week’s Preservation Pop Quiz asked you to identify this feature:
The clue was that it’s seen on the side of the road, and frequently, at least up here in Vermont. Most guesses related to highway markers or survey markers. That was my first guess, as well, but when I looked closer there were no indications of road markers. Instead, it looks like this:
Admittedly, the quiz did not show that side of the post. Now that you’ve seen it, any guesses? How about this one? To answer some likely questions: it is constructed of concrete. The plaques are metal and yes, have long since faded. Some of these that I’ve seen on these Vermont highways have crumbled or cracked. Others are missing the bottom half of the concrete posts, revealing the one metal reinforcing rod.
What has faded? The bell telephone logo. These concrete posts identify utility lines along the road. While they look oddly similar to highway markers, I have not seen any with that would indicate as such. Have you?
So what are they? Telephone utility line markers is my best guess. All of these concrete posts that I have seen have similar plaques and faded bell telephone symbols. What do you think? Are you in agreement? Or do you think it’s something else?
The most recent Preservation Pop Quiz asked you to describe the brickwork seen here:
The reason for this quiz was mostly because I didn’t know the answer, and wanted some good preservation colleague input. If you read the comments, you’ll notice that there was a good discussion occurring, with good sources shared. Hopefully everyone learned something new and enjoyed participating and/or reading.
Now, I’m not about to declare myself an expert and give you the “proper” description. But I will go over the brick courses above, based on information gathered from the comments. Feel free to chime in with your opinions. Since Paula wrote the National Register nomination, I’ll defer to her for approval.
The top 10 (or 11 – the picture is difficult to count) rows of brick are “corbeled brick courses.”
The rows with recessed bricks are “stylized, repeating cross shaped recesses in the brick bond.”
The next course below (the brick headers set at a 45 degree angle) are set in a “houndstooth pattern” or “sawtooth pattern.” (Anyone know the difference or are they interchangeable?)
The tall bricks are in a soldier bond (referring to those angled to show soldiers and sailors) are set in a sawtooth pattern, as well.
So, yes, this is a complicated brick cornice filled with detailed brickwork. Ten corbeled courses, a recessed cross-shape pattern in the brick, a course of headers set in houndstooth/sawtooth pattern, and a course of soldiers set in the same pattern.
What do you think now? Good, or shall we refine it more?
If you didn’t catch the most recent Preservation Pop Quiz, read it here.
The answers from readers touched on key points. Here is the original photo.
As John guessed in the comments, this appeared to be an old road alignment and perhaps bridge. And Ellen & Jen suggested this area had been hit by the August flooding, and Jen presumed the younger trees suggested a recent change in the landscape. All around, everyone had great answers for reading the landscape.
And the answer? The picture above shows an old road alignment, which you can decipher from two key points. First, in the picture above (and see below for a more central view), the sloped bank that has a rise to it is a bridge abutment. If you look closely you can see how the road slightly curves in towards the old abutment. Second, the utility wires cut across the river rather than following the road. Often when bridges and roads are realigned, the wires remain in place, which can often be a helpful hint.
Here are a few photographs and aerials to aid in explanation.
This area was heavily affected by the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Throughout Vermont you can see rivers with more cobbles and rocks than pre-flood and banks that have been ravaged by the strong currents and await restoration.
Where is this? The bridge abutment is part of the former alignment of VT Route 73 in Rochester, VT. Route 73 intersects with VT Route 100 further north. See these aerial maps below.
Old bridge abutments are everywhere – be on the lookout! Thanks for reading and playing. If you like reading about old road alignments, check out Jim Grey’s blog Down the Road, where he often writes about old alignments of the National Road.
p.s. Look for the next Sense of Place post this afternoon.