The Fisher House in Cincinnati’s East Walnut Hills neighborhood near the University of Cincinnati campus is a an American Swiss Chalet. “The Swiss Chalet style”, according to the City of Cincinnati Planning and Buildings department, “was never widespread in the United States, [but] appears to have enjoyed some celebrity in Cincinnati. The American version of the style was derived from the Swiss cottage form traditional among Alp-dwellers for hundreds of years. It i[was] publicized by Andrew Jackson Downing in The Architecture of Country Houses (1850), a best-selling stylebook that did much to popularize other romantic styles such as the Gothic Revival.”
Lucien Plympton, the architect who designed the Fisher House, was influential in spreading the style in Cincinnati in the late 19th century. Houses of the Swiss Chalet style, or with elements of the style such as the distinctive roof, can be found in many parts of the city. Cincinnati has a very strong German cultural heritage, which may explain why the Swiss Chalet style found popularity in the city.
The Fisher House was completed in 1892. (If you look to the upper left near the roof line, you can see that the date was incorporated within the elaborate decoration). It features real half-timbering held together with hand-crafted pegs. It is Plympton’s best known work. To see more photographs of the house (including the interior!) visit Cincinnati’s Architecture and Urban Planning Collection site.
A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the news. Click on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.
A new and hilarious resource for persuading stubborn ant-National Register types that listing is no big deal! “Basically, National Register listing is supposed to be a no-strings-attached honor, and the simple act of accepting this honor doesn’t compel you to do anything. In rare cases, there may be problems stemming from overlapping jurisdictions with state or local historical societies, or over-enthusiastic preservation groupies. Just do your homework, and except [sic] your honor, and everything will be fine.”
With Detroit’s bankruptcy in the news this week, TWC put together a beautiful (if you are into the whole ruin porn thing) slide show of Detroit’s abandoned and deteriorating historic buildings.
Gateway Cities Don’t Need a Silver Bullet – Boston Globe
Almost every year some silver bullet — a sports arena, a casino, a conference center — promises salvation and rebirth for legacy cities ( medium-sized metropolitan areas struggling with manufacturing decline and population loss are a never-ending project in many parts of the country). The truth is the silver-bullet syndrome can inhibit revitalization. A megaproject can become an important asset, but it is not a strategy for change in itself, unless it is integrated into larger schemes to make a meaningful contribution to the city’s future. A more incremental approach built on collaboration and partnerships — combined with a fresh appreciation of existing assets (like having faith in dense, walkable downtowns ), beginning with the physical urban form of these cities — holds more promise for rebuilding. The author goes on to suggest a number of other ways to reinvent struggling cities including, “don’t be afraid to demolish.” Thoughts, anyone?
Unlike in the US, China does not have eminent domain laws that allow it to take the property of private citizens for public works. As a result, builders sometimes have to elaborately construct around the property of owners who refused to sell, creating unbelievable islands of history in a sea of progress called “nail houses.” Click through for a gallery of this phenomena. You have to see it to believe it!
Just as street car stops spurred commercial and residential development in 19th century, the promise of a new streetcar line in Cincinnati is driving occupancy rates in formerly (nearly) empty commercial buildings.
Retro Slim Aarons Pool Side Photos – Apartment Therapy
Get your weekend off to a dreamy early start by clicking through this photo gallery of mid-century poolside snaps by photographer Slim Aarons.
Thorncrown Chapel in Arkansas – Colossal
The Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is considered one of the crowning examples of organic architecture in the US. Built in 1980, it was designed to be “a weightless, almost translucent structure that offers sweeping views in all directions of the surrounding Ozark habitat. In keeping with the organic design of the chapel [architect E. Fay Jones] asked that no construction element be larger than what two people could carry through the woods by hand.” Because of it’s significance in design, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 when it was only 20 years old! Now it is being threatened by a power company that has has applied to build a 48-mile high voltage transmission line through Northwest Arkansas that will cut through the woods right next to the chapel. For those interested, the Arkansas Public Service Commission is accepting comments from the public regarding the proposed power line construction. You can also read much more over on Hyperallergic.
Houses in Disrepair Have A Place in History – The Columbus Dispatch
In Ohio (and around the country), millions of tax payer dollars are being used to demolish historic buildings in an effort to rub out blight. What this 1960s solution (that history proved with empty lots 50 years later isn’t actually a solution) neglects is that these buildings didn’t get this way on their own. Property owners and cities allowed them to fall into disrepair. As the author notes, “A 100-year-old house in Europe is a baby. Some houses in Britain, France and Germany are three or four times older than those in our country. The point is that the houses are in bad shape not because they’re old but because they were allowed to fall apart.” And while not all houses/buildings are historically significant because someone famous slept there, they make up the historic character of neighborhoods and cities. “Without them, the character changes. And, if history repeats itself, the new character will be defined by a gaptoothed landscape of weed-filled lots.”
Epic St. Petersburg Palace – Curbed
A rare historic palace on St. Petersburg’s famous English Embankment has come up for sale and is sure to attract interest from some of Russia’s newly minted billionaires. The only trouble? The price is so high, it is only available upon request. Recently used as bank offices, the 18th-century palace was built for “Duke Trubetskoy, one of Peter the Great’s favourite companions” and was passed down through the noble generations until the property was nationalized in 1917. Now restored with input from conservators at the Hermitage and State Museum, the commodious house has been returned to its original use as a single-family mansion for Russia’s ruling class. The 39,000-square-foot structure features 22,000-square-feet of preserved historic interiors, including an ‘Armoury Gallery, the Hunting Room, the White Hall, the Knights Hall’ and the especially ornate ‘Gothic Hall.'”
1 Main Street, Apt. 16, DUMBO, Brooklyn – The Corcoran Group
I’ll just let this video speak for itself!
Happy weekend, ya’ll!
A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the news.
“Since the start of Syria’s civil war eighteen months ago, the country’s abundance of cultural heritage sites — which include some of the oldest and most important cultural centers on earth — have found themselves repeatedly caught in the crossfire. Archaeologists around the world have made devoted efforts to assess the damage, but actually protecting the sites has been impossible.” – The Global Heritage Fund
If you’ve ever been to Park Slope, you probably noticed the Pepto Bismol pink brownstone on Garfield Place. Since it was painted in 1971, it has become an neighborhood icon. Fortunately/unfortunately (it’s a matter of opinion), the pink hued townhouse will soon be painted brown. Check out Brooklyn Paper for more information about the Landmark Preservation Commission’s decision.
My tagline is a little misleading (but it rhymes!). This story (from Rustwire) is more about how people shape their communities through culture (which is connected to race, and ethnicity, and heritage). Until the 1970s, the Buckeye Road neighborhood in Cleveland was a cohesive Hungarian enclave. When it began to integrate, the community was broken apart by blockbusting (and fear-mongering) realtors and developers. Despite the its best efforts to reshape itself into an multi-ethnic and integrated community, depressed real estate prices took their toll. Today the neighborhood stands in stark contrast to the once vibrant community it was.
Eleven year old Nate Michalak is already an active historic preservationist. He’s helping his family restore three historic houses in Toledo, Ohio. And he writes a column for Heritage Ohio! He says of his projects, “I think that’s not right that a lot of these kinds of houses are being torn down to make new houses or shopping malls and I wonder, why? Why would you tear down a beautiful old house and make something brand new?” Right on, little guy! Jump over to Preservation Nation for more Q&A with this pint sized preservationist.