Monday, May 29, 2006
Cake- "Stanley thought this would be a 'cake job' up until the point he realized he forgot the dog bones!!"
This is not complete...the recent holiday had me building tents, filling pools and grilling so I haven't had the time to work on the I-Fri Challenge!
I really wanted to do an architectural piece about the "Wedding Cake House" in Kennebunk, ME. It is one of the most photographed Gothic Revival buildings in the United States.
Yet, it is not technically Gothic at all.
At first glance, the house may look Gothic. It is lavished with carved buttresses, spires and lacy spandrels. However, these details are merely frosting, applied to the facade of a refined brick home in the Federal style. Paired chimneys flank a low, hipped roof. Five windows form an orderly row along the second story. At the center (behind the buttress) is a traditional Palladian window.
The austere brick house was originally built in 1826 by a local shipbuilder. In 1852, after a fire, he got creative and fancied up the house with Gothic frills. He added a carriage house and barn to match. So it happened that in a single home two very different philosophies merged:
Orderly, classical ideals -- Appealing to the intellect
Fanciful, romantic ideals -- Appealing to the emotions
By the late 1800s, the fanciful, and perhaps overly exuberant, details of Gothic Revival architecture had waned in popularity. Lacy spires and elaborate buttresses were reserved for churches and large public buildings. On private homes, Medieval ideas blended with other types of ornamentation. Trendy new Victorian styles emerged and graceful Queen Anne architecture won the day.
But couldn't find a decent photo that captured the wonder of the house's true architectural beauty.
Check it out:
The romantic legend arose some fifty years later when an enterprising Kennebunk businessman published a postcard of the house and entitled it "Wedding Cake House." It came to be said that the carving had been done during long lonely hours aboard ship by a recently married sea captain who had had to leave his bride before he even had time to eat his wedding cake. The legend's romance, while inspired by the desire to make money, provides a "sensible" explanation for the likes of such an eccentric architectural artifact. However, the home-improvement scheme of George Bourne, with its aspirations, displaced energy, persistence, toil, and reward is the stuff of legend, too.
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