I was recently at two Shaker sites, the Lebanon Village in New York and the adjacent Hancock Village in Massachusets. Growing up in Kentucky, I visited the Pleasant Hill Shaker village a number of times and it was fascinating to tour these two northeastern sites that was its origin.
Most of the smaller towns that I passed through on a recent road trip had their version of the local movie palace. And most were closed down along with the rest of the storefronts along the main street. The emptiness of middle America is remarkable and so sad. We all hear the statistics about the growth of the larger cities and the gradual emigration away from small towns. But something about the desolate marque of the old movie theatre strikes me as the most melancholy of the all the main street ghosts.
Just off downtown Loveland, Colorado is the ancient and intriguing Loveland Feed & Grain building. A many-year preservation and restoration effort has been taking place to find new uses for this magnificent building.
Chapels of the San Luis Valley
For many years, I have been taking trips to the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. This area feels very different from either the Front Range or the Western Slope and is marked by tiny settlements and the vase expanse of the wide valley. Of particular interest to me are the simple chapels and churches, dotted across the landscape, some lovingly cared for, others abandoned.
I am not an advocate for building in a "style". Thinking of buildings as simply constructions that you can hang different style clothes on runs counter to my work as an architect. However, if you don't have an architect or don't want one, maybe the nineteenth century idea of pattern books is a good idea to help you avoid Style Abuse Disorder (SAD).
A field guide to ugly houses
I look at a lot of ugly houses. No one who has a really beautiful house needs my help as an architect - they are willing to live with a too small house or a dysfunctional house because it is so well-suited to its site and well-composed. No, as about half my work is in renovations and additions, I see awkward houses with garage snouts sticking out front, Cape Cods with a cornucopia of bad additions, and lots and lots of ranchburgers. What has struck me over the years is that house-ugly comes in distinct forms. There is a veritable taxonomy of classification for the types of ugly, bad, horrible and embarrassing houses.