Sunday, March 22, 2015

I don't care what anybody...

...says, I really like Tudor Revival architecture.

I happened upon this building on 111th Street, just east of Western Avenue, as I was driving through the Morgan Park neighborhood on the Far Southwest Side of Chicago yesterday.

The current home of Little Hands Learning Center was probably built in the 1920s, before the Great Depression, when the style was popular.

From A Chicago Sojourn, my new favorite blog, Robert Powers writes:

Castellated architecture has its roots in the Gothic Revival and its Romantic views of the middle ages. In the eclectic 1920s, when a tidal wave of revival styles swept across America, a variety of castellated styles were used on large apartment buildings around Chicagoland. The implications of luxurious living – worthy of a monarch – would make a powerful advertising statement for the developers trying to fill their newly constructed buildings, as well as pleasing neighbors concerned about the aesthetics of a large new building in their neighborhood.

Is there a bowman up in that tower?
The most common castle architectural elements include massive turrets with small “arrow slit” windows, rough limestone bases, and crenelated rooflines. Of course, the need to supply the basics of a modern home, such as windows, mean that the castle motif can only run so far. On most examples, it is combined with a Tudor Revival style, which uses faux half-timbering for some surfaces for a more domestic effect which also happens to be more amenable to larger windows.
The castle craze was part of the period revival craze of the 1920s, when practically every style associated with pre-industrial society came into vogue.

The Great Depression, of course, put the kibosh on any further such flights of fancy. By the time construction resumed in the 1950s, both style and economics demanded the simplicity of Modernism. Castle apartments were a quaint curiosity – a last hoorah for historicist revivalism. 

My guess is that any true "student" of architecture would turn up his nose at this style. But I agree with the American architect Robert Venturi, who, in response to Mies van der Rohe's famous modernist dictum, "Less is more," said, "Less is a bore."

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