Some History on My Little House


Architectural history that is. The one essential book for anyone interested in the history and architectural fashions of American domestic architecture is A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester. Through this book and Virginia McAlester’s website, I have learned that my home’s style is neither “distinctive” nor is it noteworthy. Nevertheless, it is an unadulterated example of what was the norm for the homes built in my neighborhood back in 1938. Ms. McAlester refers to my home’s style as “minimal traditional”. Sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it? She even gives it another term on her website, “bankers’ modern”. So what is minimal traditional?


Pilates + Architecture


Julie Harrison Studio. In 2008, architect Susan Appleton, AIA, LEED AP, was honored with an AIA Dallas Merit Award for her design of this pilates studio. From the home’s garage, she was able to create an elegant and simple space on a very tight budget. The original garage door wall was replaced with a very cool steel framing system. And insulated glass was inserted into this frame to brighten the studio and maximize the natural northern light while at the same time avoiding the harsh Texas sun during its peak hours. And then a shed roof tops it all. A new carport was constructed next to the space using a steel framing system and 5-foot-by-10-foot cement board. The framing apertures measure 5 feet wide and were designed to hold these panels creating a sense of privacy. The carport’s roofing system is a combination of corrugated metal and a hog wire trellis on which greenery can grow adding even more protection and privacy.


An Old Building Survives


The Ladies’ Clubhouse at Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club in East Texas is one of those hidden time warps. To walk through its rooms and recognize that time has stopped is like some eerie dream. And it’s very important that I tread quietly so not to wake it, because the last thing I want is for it to follow me into my century.

Several years ago, I worked with John Crow Miller on a 400 page historical book for Little Sandy written to celebrate a century of seasons at the club (it had just celebrated its 100 year anniversary). And at that time, there was talk that the clubhouse would have to be demolished. But now, John has written to me to say that there has been a change of heart. He also included a bit of its history.


My Home’s Historical Marker


In 2002, my house was one of the initial group of homes awarded a historical plaque by the Preservation Park Cities. The main goal for this marker program was to acknowledge and honor those properties that retained most of their original architectural character. Unfortunately, it does not carry any restrictions. I say “unfortunately” because I know that most folks here in Dallas don’t value historical architecture, much less a small home. And if I would need to sell (hopefully never), whoever purchases this property would most likely want to tear it down and build something bigger and badder. “Badder” does not mean “better”. It means “evil”, “bloat”, “greed”, and any other vice you can think of minus sex apeal. Well, anyway, that’s just my opinion. This plaque is just meant to give any future homeowner pause to reflect before proceeding with any possible destructive behavior in the name of immediate financial return.

Preservation Park Cities has now joined another group and is called by a really super long name, Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society. This group still awards plaques, but the design and shape of their plaque is completely different from mine. Regrettably, nothing these two groups have done, independently or jointly, has been able to stem the aggressive tide of teardowns. My neighborhood looks nothing like it did when I moved into my home in 1985. The charm and quiet are history. A beautiful memory.

Hopefully this will be the last time I write something mean and ugly on this blog. That’s not the recommended way to making friends with fellow bloggers. Or neighbors. Or fellow Dallasites. I am very aware that I’m a minority in my hood, because I’m single with no children and mow my own lawn. So if it upsets any neighbor that I don’t fit the norm, then let them be reminded nicely and with a smile that I was here first.

Now I must stop to water my garden, while performing the mosquito dance.


Another Fake Post

the screen porch taken before the backyard's transformation

This image has yet to be added to my website. Before the construction, I called this part of the house “the tumor”. That yucky back deck will eventually be replaced when the backyard’s hardscaping and landscaping happens. I don’t know when that will be. Before that can occur, phase 4 needs to be completed. And before that can happen, I will need to replenish the bank account. And before that can happen, I will need to work and work and work on paying jobs. So till then, don’t hold your breath. I am trying to get the navigation bars to work correctly, and this requires multiple posts. Please bear with me.