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The craftsman
Volume XXX, Number 2 (May 1916)

Gill, Irving J.
The home of the future: the new architecture of the West: small homes for a great country: number four,   pp. 140-151 PDF (3.8 MB)


Page 148


THE NEW ARCHITECTURE OF THE WEST
unornamented save for the vines that soften a line or creepers that
wreathe a pillar or flowers that inlay color more sentiently than any
tile could do. I like the bare honesty of these houses, the childlike
frankness and chaste simplicity of them. It seemed too peculiar
an innovation at first to make a house without a large overhang
roof, for we have been so accustomed in California to think them a
necessity, but now that the first shock is over people welcome the
simplicity of the houses built without these heavy overhangs and see
that they really have distinction.
N the West, home building has followed, in the main, two dis-
    tinct lines-the Spanish Mission and the India bungalow. True,
    we find many small Swiss chilets clinging perilously to canyon
walls, imposing Italian villas facing the sea and myriad nameless
creations whose chief distinction lies in the obvious fact that they
are original, different from any known type of architecture. It were
much better for California if there were less complicated, meaningless
originality and more frank following of established good types.
    Because of the intense blue of sky and sea that continues for such
 long, unbroken periods, the amethyst distant mountains that form
 an almost universal background for houses or cities, the golden brown
 of summer fields, the varied green of pepper, eucalyptus and poplar
 trees that cut across it in such decorative forms and the profusion of
 gay flowers that grow so quickly and easily, houses of a bright roman-
 tic picturesqueness are perfectly suitable that would seem too dra-
 matic in other parts of the country. They seem a pleasing part of
 the orange-belted flower fields and belong to the semi-tropical land.
 These same houses would certainly look artificial and amusingly un-
 comfortable and out of place in the East; but they essentially belong
 to the land of sunshine.
    The contour, coloring and history of a country naturally influence
 its architecture. The old wooden Colonial houses of the East, shaded
 by noble elms, with their attendant lanes and roads outlined by stone
 walls, perfect pictures of home beauty; the stone houses of Pennsyl-
 vania, charming of color, stately, eloquent of substantial affluence
 and generous hospitality; and the adobe houses of the Arizona In-
 dians formed of the earth into structures so like the surrounding
 ledges and buttes in shape that they can scarcely be told from them,
 triumphs of protective, harmonious building, are familiar types of
 buildings characteristic of their locality.
     California is influenced, and rightly so, by the Spanish Missions
 as well as by the rich coloring and the form of the low hills and wide
 valleys. The Missions are a part of its history that should be pre-
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