Saturday, April 1, 2017

Carpenter Gothic

It's not unusual for me to be looking for a particular thing, whether online or elsewhere, and have my attention drawn to something completely different.  I'm curious and that curiosity leads me in many different directions.  (When I was a kid, I would easily get drawn off task while looking up words in the dictionary, as interesting other words caught my attention.   Ten minutes later .... what was that word I was originally here to look up?)

Something like this happened to me last week, as I was surfing Pinterest looking for Gothic Revival house images.  Whenever possible I visit the original page from which an image was pinned, instead of repinning directly from the Pinterest image.  On one of those pages, I saw a reference to this book:

Carpenter Gothic, 19th-Century Ornamented Houses of New England (1978)

Carpenter Gothic.  That's the original style of our house.  It was built in 1848 by a couple who had moved here from Connecticut, introducing the Gothic style to this area for the first time.  In the case of our house, it's Carpenter and Gothic were removed in the 1960s.)  A book about Gothic houses in New England got me really excited!

Earliest image of our house that I have seen, from 1933, when the place was already 85 years old.

I'm completely unable to resist the temptation of books, especially garden and architecture books.  All it took was a few clicks, a credit card number, and the book in question was on its way to me.  (I love shopping for used books online.  This one was $4.10 from a dealer on Abe Books, with free shipping, and it arrived in four days.)

As I sat down to read my new treasure on the evening of the day that it arrived, I was struck by to a sentence in the Foreward written by Charles Moore.

We live ourselves in an exciting time, when the past is coming again to be seen, not as a dead hand on our own creativity, but as an exhilarating source and stimulus, a connection that gives us strength and an enhanced freedom to make buildings that speak in many tongues, heresiarchs, and gigglers, to excite people of many moods and attitudes and concerns, to make concrete and stimulate our dreams.

This one sentence, a really LONG sentence, puts words to my attitude about the way that I try to handle the restoration and renovation of this place of ours ... to not be a slave to a particular style or time, to allow it to evolve while respecting its origins, and to give it a story and a voice in the present. 

All of this began because I was looking for images on Pinterest to help with the last few little details in the design of the new gingerbread trim for our front porch ... which is completely different than any of the other designs that I have put forth to you in past posts.  I love what we have come up with, but I won't show it to you until we have a final version of the design that's been approved by the county Architectural Review Board ... don't want to jinx it, I hope you understand.


  1. The love you have for your very special home is wonderful. Hugs!

  2. One has to give the highest respect for the craftsman that can execute the fine ornamental work. I have always found ABE and Alibris great sources of used books. I also get lost when looking for a book on one subject and another side tracks me for some unknown time.

  3. What a great find, Connie! I love how so often in life we're led to just what we need. I'm excited that you all have come up with a new design that you're excited about. Hope it meets with approval!


  4. Love it! Hope it pans out - I know how those "boards" can be.

  5. fascinating, I love reading about residential architecture


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