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Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

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The craftsman
Volume XXX, Number 6 (September 1916)

"An ancient home of peace:" how the modern architect adds comfort to beauty,   pp. 616-623 PDF (2.6 MB)

Page 623

  Another artistic triumph is the treatment of a little pool. All the 
wild ragged beauty that Nature loves to create is retained because 
it was so fully appreciated. Less skilled architects might have trimmed 
away the branch that swayed so gracefully to the surface of the water, 
ruffling it when the breezes come. The wild tangle of the bank is far 
more beautiful and full of floral surprises than if it had been clipped 
away and a smooth lawn laid in its stead. The wild bank and un- 
trimmed tree being just in the right place are full proof that these 
designers and architects can be trusted to make the most of whatever 
material comes to their hand. They have fused the best of the old and 
of the new in one inspiring monument to the past, the present, and 
to their own ability. 
   The reason for the invariable improvement of every old building 
entrusted to their care may be found in their gift of seeing with open, 
unpretentious eyes, the beauty already existing, of carrying its feeble 
or great suggestions on to completion without altering its inherent 
quality. Their methods are constructive instead of destructive, they 
build from whatever clue they discover that is worth while instead 
of tearing down with careless disregard all the good work done in 
the past. No one without an unbiased appreciation of beauty could 
look through the limitations of the old, beyond the existing imper- 
fections of design and perceive the fair nucleus of the new home. 
Every effort to save the fine old landmarks of American architecture 
is now being put forth by the owners and by the architects. Some, 
through knowledge, are able to carry the best of the old on into the 
new requirements, others through ignorance or because of unfor- 
tunate personal taste destroy with rough hand the fine ancient charm. 
   Some old farmhouses still standing beside New England's road- 
sides show doorways that for grace of proportion and delicacy of 
detail cannot be improved upon; some of the windows are finished 
with finely modeled cornices, some have two-story porches orna- 
mented with perfectly turned columns. Most of these old houses 
have roof lines that are interesting because so simple. 
   Small changes often cause great havoc. Sometimes just the re- 
moval of a familiar old lilac bush by the corner of the house will 
change the sweet, wholly unpretentious spirit so beloved to a cold, 
formal, prosperous atmosphere shorn of all romance, that is anything 
but desirable. In these photographs the unerring judgment of the 
restorers is plainly apparent. Not a single characteristic detail has 
been lost, not a single obtrusive modern necessity has been intro- 
duced. It surely is an inspiration to see so perfect a bit of restora- 
tion including both house and grounds. 

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