On blustery blizzardy days like today, there can be comfort in the CD player. Put Samuel Barber’s “Summer Music” in and hit the repeat button. I guarantee it will do wonders for your outlook, somewhat like these two images recently become part of the collection.
They are both turn-of-the-century views in idyllic New England, a simpler time without gadgets and paraphernalia, when architecture was similarly stripped of footnoted, bibliographed, theoretical underpinnings. Either of these structures might as easily have been “designed” by its owner, by a carpenter-builder or even an architect. “Form Follows Function” as our friend LHS might have said, but that sentiment oozes from other more practical writings of post-Civil-War America. Consider the following wordy paragraph from Palliser’s Model Homes, published in 1878, some years before Sullivan articulated his iconic alliterative phrase.
Writing about the problem of Catholic church design—and bemoaning the large number of rural parish churches of poor quality—the authors admonish:
…[I]t is no reason why the problem cannot be solved by the architect, and all the traditions of the great days of the church still be preserved without turning to his books, and copying something to resemble its predecessors of years ago; but he must work with the materials at his command, combining them so as to form a harmonious whole, and suited to the requirements of the form of worship; and to do this, and obtain real progress, it is necessary to work out new ideas to suit each separate case, and the various materials employed should be treated without any show of deceit, but let wood be wood, brick, brick, and plaster, plaster. Let the construction be visible and sound, and the decoration employed be guided by the simple desire of avoiding all shams, which will increase the beauty and effect of the edifice, and fill the souls worshipping [sic] therein with religious emotion. [boldface emphasis is mine]
OK, so Sullivan boiled it down to three words. The message is the same.
One or both of these images will find their way into the story of Agincourt, perhaps along the banks of the mighty Muskrat River or on the shores of Sturm und Drang. Give me a little time; I’ll work it out.