Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Evergreen Drive tells us

Now turn the corner North to Evergreen Drive

I promised not to study any more bungalows.  These are not new kinds, though no two are quite alike, especially after nearly a century, but they are not part of Zadok Realty's planned tracts, beginning with Roseland Terrace, yet they are very much related to those on the south side of Government Street (and some also to the northern half of Beauregard Town).
When I saw what we have here I took a few pictures, but I don't need to discuss them in detail, beyond observing that some are more faithful to their origins (if only because they have been restored more recently: they are well informed).
How shall I put it?  I came to Louisiana unaware of and blind to racial distinctions of any kind (from Berkeley, CA).  Only in the last five years and thanks to my looking more closely at 1920s bungalows, after my colleagues had told me that I must not look at houses in some blocks (else I'd own a house of my own in these blocks, just west of the main High School) did I form the habits usual here.  Now, thanks to one of the nation's best mayors and many other fine citizens,  and to living and going where I please (provided it isn't a flood-prone "bottom") can I be interested in the integrated development of the town.  Also, I don't know, I cannot tell, what 'community' now enjoys the Magnet High School as its own.
I should point out, what I haven't studied yet, that the slash of the Interstate Freeway, N-S, I-110, may have been really divisive.  And Evergreen Drive is one of several streets that run uninterrupted from Government Street to North Blvd, by which you can go directly west, all the way to the Old Capitol and the River.  I first saw this continuity in several of the bungalows preserved on S. 19th St., just north of the new Dufrocq Elementary (as previously the old one of 1906, abandoned to dilapidation).  Now, I think, the reversal of dilapidation is replacing the race to Ranch-style NASCAR-land (probably an unjust designation).
In any case, easy-going Louisiana is a pleasure to those who love the America of their parents, parents who bought their first homes in the 1920s.
The photos taken yesterday specially for this essay

Evergreen starting from Government, opposite Drehr Place, and running north to North Blvd.

Evergreen between Louisiana and Spain, south towards the big garage of the house with the façade heading the previous Post, showing its biggest palm, the rear of its square façade, and its two chimneys

428 Evergreen, the first house north of the garage and yard of the big fancy house.  It rained and froze starting the next day, but yesterday I came back (better light and no pickup truck are demanded).  this is very like the Sanders house less than two blocks away in the Drehr Place part of Wisteria Street.
428 Evergreen: the "camel back" provides upstairs bedrooms, and I'm not sure which gables are primary (by now any good contractor could have looked around, and the 'chinese' gable may be elective, the front door an up-market choice), but the vocabulary and syntax, especially the short pillars and brick posts, are exactly right.
Here on the corner of Evergreen and Spain, we have a fine choice of pillars, quite urban, and that blue paint that has been used a lot all over the Beauregards and Garden District.  Nice to see that this is a family house whose child got a car for Christmas!
Here, and still in that early 1920s (I think) vocabulary with square 'Chinese' brackets and  dagger-pointed pi pendants on the pillars, we can compare again the Sanders house in Drehr Place and all those already compared with it in earlier Posts.  The open gate for access to the garage, framed by brick posts topped with cast pineapples, however, belong to the house next to it, currently being worked on, hence the open picket fence for supplies.
And here is a detail of it, definitely going to be Craftsman and possibly such to begin with.   Again, this is highly correct in its approach.  Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, when houses of the 20s were "improved" they were a disgrace, everywhere, not only in Louisiana (though in our 1920s neighborhoods, and not only in the kitchens, we have our own mockeries).  I had to photograph in the shade, but see the general view in the Album.
Some of you may have seen me last week daftly call a banana limp from freezing a 'bamboo' instead!  Well, here's a very fine stand of ornamental banana, and like all the others that suffer when we have a hard freeze this one will survive, too.
Now I have to wonder: can I learn enough to share about the whole of the neighborhoods from before WW II (which caused a great hiatus in domestic housing)?  It bothers me that people talk about 'the working class', both blue- collar and white-collar, which is to say most of us, including about the same proportion of African-Americans (just read Taylor Branch's "Parting the Waters", the first volume of his biography of Martin Luther King, inter alia, and of the California Hispanics and Asians that I went to Oakland High School with) as if we had been either wealthy families at their Newport summer homes or else the subjects of the justly famous FSA photos.  What I like about Baton Rouge is that, for the most part, it is neither.  Just like San Luis Obispo, where I was born.