I am crazy-go-nuts about Storybook Style architecture. Crazy. Go. Nuts. I was crazy about it before I knew it was a style, because Louisville, Kentucky, where I grew up, is rich with Storybook houses, neighborhoods, and elements.
Then I got a copy of Storybook Style: America’s Whimsical Homes of the Twenties by Arrol Gellner at a half-price book store and the obsession began.
Storybook Style began when the boys came home from Europe after World War One. They were full of memories of the architecture of the countryside and villages, and translated those memories — sometimes faithfully, sometimes whimsically — with an American accent. Some of the architecture they copied was already what’s known as “vernacular”, meaning specific to the customs of a particular place or the preferences of a particular owner/builder.
In this area (we call it Kentuckiana, meaning northern Kentucky and southern Indiana), a lot of fairly ordinary houses have Storybook elements: round-topped doors, often surrounded by a different material than the rest of the wall, doors at angles, and “cat slide” roofs, which are steep and come down lower than necessary, often with a flip at the end.
Here are three such houses in the neighborhood where one of my brothers-in-law and his wife live.
A very Storybook house, with half-timbered bits, stone construction, a roof that goes off into all angles, a rounded door, and an arched opening off the porch. A classic!Two cat slide roofs! Note the round and rounded windows with the stone accents, and the stone around the door.This one just seems to have the Storybook bits stuck on, although it’s more likely that there’s been some ham-handed updating, instead. I particularly like the little arrow-shooting window next to the front door, and the occasional lighter-colored stone mixed in with the dark brick. A very Storybook touch.
My friend Jane took me on a driving tour of a Storybook neighborhood, and I snapped so many pictures, but I can’t find them at the moment.
[revision: I forgot to say this is part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday Door series! Go see Norm’s post and follow the links to the other participants. If you want to join, you have until Saturday to post your link.]
Are there any Storybook houses around you?
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character tries to recreate a house they used to know.