Sunday, March 26, 2006

Now with Minty Fresh Aluminum!

And here is the house in the condition that we found it. See those people in the photo? They're looking for the Stickley House. They heard that there was one in the neighborhood somewhere but when they went to look for it, all they found was this giant green monstrosity.

Actually, I shouldn't complain, its not that bad. And it did come with some industrial strength clotheslines. Some people have pools and patios. We have clotheslines. And there's an industrial strength swing set in the back yard too. What a steal! I hope I'm up to date on my tetanus shots.

Does anyone have a time machine?

This is what our house looked like back in the 1940's. For those of you that are familiar with any of Stickley's house designs, ours is house #8 from the 1905 series. I've included the photo from the original Craftsman magazine design plans.

Sadly, the house has taken on a few unsightly changes since then. And by unsightly I mean ugly. And by changes, I mean green aluminum siding.

However, I am happy to report that there haven't been any structural alterations. There are no crazy additions, no massive floorplan redesigns, and no waterslide from the attic down into the basement. I'm actually pretty broken up about the latter.

Luckily, all of the original wood siding is still intact beneath. The first level of the house is sided with a rough cut spruce siding that is about 6 inches wide and about an inch thick. This was then stained a deep brown. The second level was sided in cedar shakes and was stained a mossy green. The windows are painted white in this photo, although we don't think that was the original color. We have an older B&W photo of the back of the house that seems to show the windows as a dark color rather than white. We haven't investigated further, but I'm sure we will find out eventually.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Who is this guy? And what's with the goofy bow tie?

Have you ever heard of Gustav Stickley? I hadn't. At least not up until 2003.

As I was searching through for houses, I found one for sale in Irvington that mentioned him as the designer. Most new houses today don't provide you with the name of the architect in the listing. Mainly because most new houses today are probably designed by guys named Steve or Bob and look like this stunning architectural marvel: The Oak. I'm guessing that more time is spent trying to come up cheesy names for the design rather than the actual design plans themselves. Oops....I'm on my soap box. Moving on......

Emily was finishing her master's in Historic Preservation and Restoration Architecture at Ball State University (MSHP Program). I called her on her cell and asked if she had ever heard of Stickley. She had. And when I explained to her why I was asking, it all went down hill from there. For those of you that haven't heard of him, here's a brief bio of Gus, courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica:

Gustav Stickley
born March 9, 1858, Osceola, Wis., U.S.
died April 21, 1942, Syracuse, N.Y.

U.S. furniture designer and maker who largely created what came to be known as the Mission style.

Stickley learned basic furniture-making skills in a Pennsylvania chair factory owned by an uncle. After a time he took over the factory and in 1884 moved it to Binghamton, N.Y. He experimented briefly with designs in the fashionable Art Nouveau mode before introducing, about 1900, a new line of sturdy oak furniture whose virtues of simplicity, functionality, and soundness of construction were for Stickley an expression of democratic values. He established the Craftsman Workshops in Syracuse in 1901 and began publishing the monthly magazine The Craftsman to carry his ideas and designs to a wider audience. Although he owed something to the British Arts and Crafts movement, Stickley was a highly original designer who applied his ideas not only to furniture but to decorative accessories of all kinds. One of the most popular features of The Craftsman was a series of house designs intended to suit modest incomes.

The popularity of Craftsman furniture waned after a decade and a half, and in 1916 Stickley ceased publishing his magazine and gave up his bankrupt workshops to two younger brothers, who continued for a time to produce furniture from his designs. Two other brothers had for some time produced similar furniture under the name L. and J.G. Stickley, and numerous other imitators had capitalized on his work as well.

"Stickley, Gustav." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2006.
Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 25 Mar. 2006

I have to admit, there was nothing about the online photos that made me even want to see the place in person. It looked like the kind of place that parents told their children to pass over on Halloween. But that didn't stop us. We set out on a "drive by" in the hopes that whatever we found would make us happy we still lived in an apartment. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Our first house.....what the hell were we thinking?

Usually when a newly married couple ventures out to buy their first home, they choose something small, manageable, and in relatively good shape.

Not us. Not that we're very proud of that. At least not any more.

I shouldn't even have been looking for a house. We had just re-signed our lease at our apartment complex in Fishers. (Yeah, I know. Hey at least it wasn't Carmel). Emily, my wife, was finishing her masters degree at Ball State. The plan was to wait until she finished school, then spend the next year looking for the perfect house. Something that was just the right size, in good shape, and, at the request (ultimatum) of Emily, built before 1920.

Instead, I, moron that I am, decided to browse some realtor websites just so see what was "out there".

And so begins our story......