Monday, July 22, 2019

A ranch with all the dressing

Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo, Vatican City, 1505-08.
by Snowdog, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Durham Cathedral, Durham, England, 1493-1590.
Photo c
ourtesy of the Cornell University Library.

It's easy to get googly-eyed over a work of architecture that aims to inject you with a holy-Toledo impression and awe you with a rollercoaster of wild wonder.

Corn Palace, Rapp & Rapp, Mitchell, South Dakota, 1891-1937. Photo by Parkerdr, courtesy of Wiki.
If you've experienced the fervently frescoed dome-ceiling of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in Vatican City (top left), the Gothic gargantua of Durham Cathedral in England (top right), the festive festoonery of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota (right), or the soaring spacebursts of Frank Gehry's Stata Center at MIT (below), you know what I mean.
Ray and Maria Stata Center, Frank Gehry, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2004. Photo by King of Hearts, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

But it's easy for me to appreciate that which is simple, low-lying, functional, homey. Even an architecture aficionado like me couldn't help admiring the pictured ranch while living in Allston, Massachusetts, and how its owners could do so much with so little.
First of all, notice how its grounds give proper meaning to its type: a ranch-like hand-hewn post-and-rail fence (which has clearly seen better days) conjuring up images of the wild, wild west the term originated from, and an expansive lawn of the kind that befits a true ranch freestanding on the open range. The well-manicured topiary, however, lends a touch of French Tuileries chic in a way more pretentious than the house's mobile-home simplicity conveys, but it shows how a simple prefab home can be transformed into something a little upper-scale.

The one-level configuration, too, contains all of the bare necessities for living comfortably—no stairs to climb or elevators to get stuck in, so one can age well in such a layout. The off-street parking and corner location further increase the curb appeal.

Yes, this Allston ranch exemplifies affordable single-family living with gardening and expansion space, in the homesteading spirit of the pioneers of the past. This could reduce the housing crisis as an antidote to architectural extravaganzas that grab our gazes but beat our bank accounts. After all:

'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.

— John Howard Payne, "Home, Sweet Home," 1823

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