Architecture Spotlight

Archaeology · Architectural History · Preservation Planning

” Keeping up with the Joneses “

Keeping up with the Joneses – Historically there have been several reasons why a homeowner may have decided to change his or her dwelling, and they can often be broken down into two basic categories: first the need for more space and second the desire to keep up with current trends and styles.  A homeowner may have started out with a small one- or two-room dwelling, but as his family grew so the need for more space, which could lead to addition to the existing dwelling.  An alternative solution would be the construction of a new and larger dwelling and the original dwelling becoming an attached dependency to the new building.

Dwellings also became larger due to changes in general social patterns.  Had daily activities initially taken place in a single room, as time progressed owners created spaces that were more formal to entertain guests, which is some cases would have required the expansion of a dwelling.  Alterations could occur due to changes in the way in which a household operated.  In some cases detached or semidetached kitchens had been the norm.  Kitchens had been detached to prevent a potential, and often likely, fire to consume the entire dwelling.  Kitchens also produced smells and heat that were considered undesired.  As domestic engineering changed around the turn of the 20thcentury, a detached kitchen became an inconvenience and these structures could be moved up to and attached to the dwelling section of the house.  Stylistic changes also played a role.  Architectural styles were ever-changing, and often minor alterations could provide a desired façade-lift for a dwelling.  An example is the popularity of the Craftsman style before World War II, which is reflected in a considerable number of alterations that occurred to existing dwellings. This often consisted of the addition of a Craftsman-style hip-roofed porch supported by battered columns on brick pedestals.  In other cases houses received a more thorough alteration, totally changing their appearance at first glance.  (Photographs by Jeroen van den Hurk)