Things are moving very slowly. The rain is less of a problem than the fact that our workers do two days of foundation work, then we wait seven days (not including weekends!) for the DOB to come and certify before we can move forward. This isn’t a ten-story building, just a two-family house not even a century old, and it will have more steel in it than I would have ever thought possible.
I would describe our pace as “glacial.” Mr. A and I avoid even walking down the street in front of the house, as it just makes us mad.
So, I am going to evoke happier times, when we were designing the facades. It was important to us to keep the house matching the others in the row, but we had an opportunity to bring in design and detailing the original spec builder never bothered with. This was particularly true in the back of the house.
Architect Grosvenor Atterbury’s Forest Hills Gardens set the style for development in Western Queens. Started in 1911 and extensively published between 1912 and 1916, Forest Hills Gardens’ Tudoresque style was picked up by the commercial builders developing row housing, particularly after the N line opened in 1915.
Atterbury’s Slocum Crescent, Forest Hills Gardens, as published in 1912.
Arleigh Homes in Astoria, as advertised in 1923.
Our 1937 house sits at the end of this tradition, but its brick facade with inset stone detailing and “wrought-iron” accents evokes “Stockbroker Tudor” for people who could afford $34 per month (the advertising line for the Arleigh Houses above).
To keep this aesthetic, there wasn’t much we have to do at the front. Carriage-style garage doors will reinforce the period feel, and we are going to try to replace the formstone-covered gable (one of my “must go’s” in the house) with a brick and half-timbered gable copied from a Forest Hills Gardens house
The bland back of the house, though, offered much more scope for our architects to channel their best Atterbury.
We wanted a sunroom on the main floor, with stairs creating a connection to the yard. Atterbury’s work in Forest Hills Gardens shows time after time his fondness for flattened arches in porches and sunrooms. For examples, see Slocum Crescent above, the arches around Station Square or the houses below.
The second floor was more complicated. Atterbury tended to set his porches into the body of the house, or off to one side with no detailing above. I wanted a bay window in the library, and a terrace off this room would also form a set-back and keep from blocking too much of the neighbor’s light (yes, the same neighbor that would cause us such headache and expense later). Luckily, our architect spotted a detail, below, on one of our Forest Hills Gardens inspiration trips which provided a period prototype.
So the design is done, if we could just get MOVING on the damn thing.
(At our “come see the project/draw on the walls” party, one of the guests summed up our architectural ambitions, above…)