Friday, May 10, 2013

A fine bungalow of 1922 in Drehr Place

On the SW corner of Drehr and Wisteria
A bungalow is a genre, not a style
The true bungalows (by "true" meaning the ones that like those in Alexandria, VA, are called California bungalows) built when the opening of Drehr Place was still recent are uncommonly fine.  This one has an L porch at south and a nicely designed porte cochère north that are both continuous with the broad porch and both original (only an addition at the back, which reaches the NS utilities alley, is a later addition).   Its bungalow design governs all sides, not just that facing the street, bearing out what the Wikipedia article, s.v. Bungalow, says of the type (as of the Prairie House), that it does demand a lot much larger than the interior spaces of the house require, so that "Chicago bungalows" have bedrooms above in order to be crammed onto 40-foot lots (or even narrower).  Its spreading plan is true to its Bengali origin, and it is a perfect type for semi-tropical Louisiana.  After three months study, I realize that the Wikipedia article is actually the very best one.  It recognizes that a 'bungalow' is a genre, not a style, whether for its style it resorts to Craftsman brackets, or chooses to buy some "Colonial" Tuscan columns to give it perhaps a less suburban character; in adobe territory, it may even be heavily stuccoed with some "mission" traits.  On this corner lot, besides space for a garden, it has as large a footprint as most of the taller corner-lot houses in our Garden District.  So far, I haven't found another such "four-sided" bungalow here, though the blue-painted one facing it comes close.
Noteworthy is the very low gable (no need to shed snow here), which permits a full set of five sturdy brackets: permits, because they all can be anchored top and bottom, from the gable cap at the top to the center of the 3 windows, aligned with the center porch pillar.  All three pillars have brick pedestals splayed at the bottom.

The splayed profile of the brick chimney's base repeats that of the righthand porch pedestal.  The owners of this house (who, of course, as such possess the data given every time they are sent a property-tax assessment) informed me that the house was built in 1922.
A whole album of this house, 608 Drehr, is provided.

Two blocks to the east, at 2332 Wisteria is the Sanders house, already presented in the blog post of March 15.  Here the original parts of the house date from 1921.  Its splayed brick pedestals and general proportions are similar, though, besides the square brackets, emphasizing their sturdiness, its pillars (and their pi motif) are very short and the brick pedestals are taller, twice as tall as the pillars.


Blocks away, two lots south of the Reiley-Reeves house on Park Boulevard where we found the earliest Craftsman elements in Roseland Terrace, we noticed 840 Park Blvd nearly a twin to the Sanders house, with the same brick parts and splayed bases (as well as square brackets and short pillars) certainly date its design (and probably construction) also c. 1921.  I take these, tentatively, as the earliest Garden District bungalows, if the similarity of 840 Park to 2332 Wisteria is not partly due to restoration...  Or is it only the same brand of paint?

The house I added as "A-prime" at 2147 Oleander Street (see post of 10 February) combines the three-window vent in the gable with brackets that look like many early-1920s ones, but triangular (it is the square ones that as brackets are exceptional), but its roof is a little steeper and so deeper, so only three brackets are logical; the intermediate ones would not reach.  In any case, this house is a good example of assorted accoutrements.  

In its very low proportions and wide eaves, on the other hand, it is the picket-fenced house, no. 603, on the NE corner of Drehr and Wisteria, once grey, now blue (already posted in one photo on Mar. 15), directly opposite the the pale terre verte bungalow heading this post, that most truly resembles our 608 Drehr, though the blue house has neither an L shaped porch nor a porte cochère.  It is so truly a bungalow, notwithstanding.

By the way, turning the corner onto Wisteria, you see something original doubtless to many but usually enclosed now (for a kitchen toilet and shower), an open back porch.  Actually, I took the picture because I thought that Richard Diebenkorn would like to look at its composition and think about it.

Another bungalow, that same brand of blue paint (!), is up on Government Street, also less than a block away.  This has the same low, broad proportions and, this time, with an ample L porch.  I doubt that it ever had brackets.  No need to have any.  But it has the triple-window vents in the low gable.

Finally, another repetition, but here in proper context.  Again, this house is not "in an Order" or "in Neo-Colonial 'style'", merely by using pillars with capitals.  Sitting right next to the blue one, you could build it on pretty much the same foundations and would have chosen  its suitability to our climate and lifestyle for the same reasons.  I guess that both of these houses are from the early 1920s, too.
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Back in the years when I taught survey courses, I made the class memorize, "A capital does not an Order make" (so that when, on a test, I asked them to draw one of the orders they would know that I meant the total design system, or syntax, of Doric, say, or Ionic.  I never ventured asking them to draw Corinthian).
To make the point, I took a slide of a brick-faced block with white trim and some readymade columns disguising its front and said that jerrybuilt branches of local banks only advertise the respectability of our Nation's Founders, and a well operated branch in a cinderblock garage might well be equally honest.

By the way, let me add that there are many various bungalows in both Roseland Terrace and Drehr Place that are all or mostly original that I have not discussed.  An example is 632 Drehr Street, which has unique brackets (but whether 'Victorian' or Japanese I do not know) in combination with columns, though it is not a very large house.  However, I know that its owners are far better qualified to write it up than I am, and here I am more concerned with quasi-Aristotelian 'categories', such as 'style' and 'Order' and 'genre' than with trying to account fully for every single house.