Monday, May 24, 2004

What gives?

The hiatus in this blog has a two-fold cause: I've been lazy and I've been away.

I was away for a week at an architecture conference in Pennsylvania. The annual meeting of the Vernacular Architecture Forum was held in central PA, focusing on the architectural traditions of the Pennsylvania Germans. While the tours were interesting, as was staying in Harrisburg (the state's capital), for me the most interesting part was hearing Thomas Hubka's paper on working class housing 1900-1930. Hubka is an architect by training, but does substantial historical research (his Big House Little House Back House Barn is a must read for architecture and material culture historians). In this paper, he discusses the emergence of a national consensus of the detached single-family residence as the model home development. Homes of this type were developed in kits by Sears and promoted heavily in home and architecture magazines of the period. The national housing census, however, indicates that while the prescriptive literature offered a standard message, the housing that was actually built did not conform 2/3 of the time. This disconnect implies an interesting disconnect between the coalition of housing industries and actual homebuyers. Hubka's intended project will eventually include analysis of 10 cities from around the country.


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