Saturday, July 26, 2008

If This House Could Talk...

Charming turn-of-the-century homes like this are usually associated with quaint and more simple times. We all accept the Victorian stereotype perpetuated by Hollywood: the one with all those tight corsets, tea parties, waistcoats and fresh baked pies. But whenever I see a late Victorian house like this, I imagine what topics of the day may have been discussed around its early dinner table. Were there arguments about the revolutionary new ideas of Freud, or Marx? Darwin, or Neitzsche? Did parents wring hands over their children's interest in Schoenberg's shocking atonal ending to his Second String Quartet? (These kids today! And their crazy music!) Were there passionate discussions about the outlandish new theory of relativity? Women's suffrage? Those scandalous Impressionist painters?

Houses like this were built by the generation that brought modernism to the world stage. And that's not exactly quaint or simple. That's actually quite radical!

11 comments:

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Petrea said...

A delightful concept! Even the phrase, "These kids today," has been around forever I'm sure.

Hilda said...

I wish I could keep a house that neat and pretty…

Love the blog, not just the house. I think every era is radical in its own way. Coping with change and problems in all forms, you have to be radical — especially if you desperately need solutions.

babooshka said...

The line about the kids and their crazy misic amused me. You are absolotely right. These houses as cute and quiant as they are to us in the UK, probably played host to some ground breaking converstaions, lifestyles and decisions. it like a book, don't just a house by it's cover, or era. Iteresting way of thinking you have.

USelaine said...

That is so true - your post is very thought provoking. uselaine runs off to find a reference....

Here it is: A book review in the Atlantic. The Beecher sisters were already advocating the "open floor plan" with women's needs in mind.

Dixie Jane Chapman said...

My blue house. My Blue Heaven (a song before your time.) White picket fence, roses. That's what I thought I would get when I got married instead of a reconverted chicken house. But it was after the great war and it beat nothing. The "present" generation has been going to the dogs since time began. However, I was lucky in that my parents endorsed, "jitterbugging." I endorse your writings concerning the topics of conversation during those times. It probably lead to a lot of twittering at the dinner table.

Laurie said...

Hi all!

Uselaine, the link you sent was fascinating. I would love to read the book by the Beecher sisters, wouldn't you?

Mom, it's great to see you here!

Isadora said...

That is quite a spot and would love to call it home. :)

Palm Axis said...

Call me Palm Axis or a killjoy but I harbor an appreciation of the ironic.
I know the owner of that house, and the only thing dating back to the Victorian era might be the two giant Canary Island Date palms out front. The property belonged to her grandmother or (great grandmother?). She had the original house torn out and replaced it with this grand but "faux" Victorian that I think was built from a kit.
Personally, I could ever get used to the trucks that start lining up Mission throughout the night to unload their deliveries at Trader Joes.

Petrea said...

Palm, tell us what was there before. Was it a beauty?

At some point I'm going to have to disengage from the web today.

Laurie said...

Wow, Palm. I was fooled by a great repro! That's okay -- I believe the spirit of the original lives on beneath the facelift.