Saturday, January 31, 2009

Close, not quite though

This is recent Lafayette Square infill on Park Ave.  Decent looking for a new Mansard, but still stands out as a little odd looking.  I don't think the Mansard is part of a third floor, thereby making it a Faux-sard.  I like to be able to get all up in my Mansard and walk around (the original point of a Mansard- it's a functioning level of the house).  At least these 3 units looks proportionate and attractive.  I like the paint colors too.  Notice the cool Richardsonian Queen Anne to the left of the nouveau Mansard.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sans Mansard

This is my premiere Mansard in the Lafayette Square neighborhood.  We weren't its owners for longer than a cup of coffee.  We bought it in 1999 and moved out in 2002 to buy our current Mansard.  Cette maison est sans Mansard.  Pourquoi?  Le tornado of 1896.  A terrible and powerful tornado steamrolled over the neighborhood destroying and damaging many of the dwellings.  Throughout Lafayette Square Mansards like this that are literally missing their tops.  Instead of rebuilding the 3rd floor, the homeowners called it a day and made the flooring of the 3rd floor the roof.  My old house above was rumored to have a roof crafted of nothing more than tar over a pine floor.  It never leaked though.  

I must point out that when I owned this wonderful little house it wasn't so drab looking.  It was a festive vert (green) color avec white trim and a rouge door.  Here's a link to what it looked like when I owned it.  Note the Mansards proper in the middle of the block that were spared by the tornado.  My sans Mansard is the green house to the far left.  

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Near the intersection of Mary and Magdalen in Brentwood on Brentwood Blvd. behind St. Mary Magdalen Church sits this sweet little bad mansard.  When I was a kid, I lived on Mary a few blocks behind what was once a Dunkin Donuts. It later became a Dynasty Donuts.  I haven't a clue what the place sells now.

Between my house and this bad mansard is an apartment complex.  Behind the apartments is a strange grassy common area flanked by hilly woods; an suburban valley of sorts.  The neighborhood kids would walk from our granny-named streets (I kid you not- Dorothy, Eulalie, Rosalie, Henrietta, etc) in search of donuts.  Good times.  I still love donuts.  

Really good times were had on the grassy portion between Dunkin and my house.  Like most kids lucky enough to have an expanse of grass and woods, we worked the space.  We played the usual games like King of the Hill, camping and house.  Oh, and missing persons games like run-away child, hunting dog and fugitive chase.  Doesn't every kid play fugitive?  With a real dog?  The game consisted of one kid hiding and the rest of us running through the woods and field with dogs to hunt the kid down.  The fugitive would be jailed or the run away child returned to her terrible parents.

My most vivid memory the area is walking through wet grass from our house to the apartments in search of a Jour-Nal (again with the French) for my mother.  I hated getting the Journal because I thought I was stealing it.  Of course, when I finally owned a house at age 29, I figured out the Journal was free.  D'oh!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Perfect Mansard

Old Post Office, downtown St. Louis.  Photo taken from my parking spot in the 7th Street Garage.  The OPO was recently renovated and now houses part of Webster University and the Court of Appeals*, amongst other bit-nesses.  My favorite place inside is the "express" library.  The staff is super nice and they always have a good selection of fiction, cookbooks and kids' literature.

When I fist started at my firm the OPO housed the Social Security Office.   Nightmare.

*Of note, I have a 100% win rate with the Court of Appeals.  disclaimer- I've only argued in the COTA twice. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mansard FAIL

Here is King Louis Square along Tucker (aka 12th), a replacement of the old Darst Webbe housing project featuring mixed income, rent/own/gov't subsidized, large/small developments. When I first moved into the area, Darst Webbe was a half circle of tall cinder block 'projects' in the middle of a field.  (side note:  anyone ever notice how most of Mizzou's dorms look just like Darst Webbe?  Especially Lathrop, Jones and Laws Halls?  It's almost eerie- exactly the same height, proportion, even the same colored tile around the front doors)

Anyway, the replacement units were meant to resemble the surrounding "Frenchtown" neighborhoods of Lasalle, Soulard and Lafayette Square, which of course means MANSARDS! Ironically, the houses originally destroyed to create Darst Webbe were actual 1800's 2nd Empires with Mansard roofs.  Thus, we knocked down the originals, built something totally awful, tore that down and built some replica dwellings with Mansard appendages plunked on top.  The picture above almost looks like a turd is perched on the corner of the building. 
These are "Faux-sards."  "Ran-sards."  These just fail.  Just another reason we should take a deep breath before we knock anything down in the name of city progress. FAIL.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mon dieu!

Nothing going on here.  Just another typical building in Soulard-- look at the lovely brick and well proportioned windows.  That's interesting!  Condo's for sale.  I wonder what the front of the building looks like?  Holy Mary Mother of Mansards!  Could that really be the front?  I swear the bad Mansard really is part of the building.  Blessed is NOT the fruit of a deranged rehabber.

I know a little bit about this building.  My minivan was rear ende
d at Sublette and Arsenal.  The insurance company had me take my car to Neibling Auto Body (great shop by the way) at Grand and Meramec. On the wall is a photo of the original Neibling shop, which used to be a stable/buggy mechanic in the 1880's.  The photo shows a lovely brick building, stable doors, good mansard.  Same address, same building.

When we moved here in 2002, the building was already ugly.  It was a distribution point for Mittendorf Meat.  Since then, the building went "condo".   Some "improvements":  the windows and doors got smaller and  someone even re-tarpapered the mansard.  Note-  The doors are clearly not adherent to code.  The historical groupies around here will bitch over whether my iron fence has a matte or gloss sheen, but these fools were permitted to put those (many) doors on an 1880's building.

To spruce the place up, the developer even installed four small grass patches and walkways for each unit.  And if that weren't enough to increase the curb appeal, there's now one (1) dwarf Alberta spruce under one of the windows.  I'm no realtor, but I'd guess that "hey, let's rip off this terrible facade..." would be a start to improving the overall look of the place.   So, faithful, pray for this mansard now and at the hour of its (hopeful) death.  Amen.   

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Good morning

This is the mansard across the street.  One of many wonderful views from my bedroom window.  It probably used to be a two family home, but it's now a multi-unit apartment building, thus it's a little shabby, but generally well kept.  The windows were replaced this past summer and appear to be adherent to Soulard's strict historical code.  Notice the great detailing under the corbeling. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ma maison!

My house.  A good looking mansard if I do say so myself.  It's a little unusual for a mansard. The top window is rare.   I've researched the house and believe that the third story/mansard was added on after the home's original build date of 1884.  My husband's third floor studio features a chimney- not a stack, but a chimney.

We also have quatre sides on our mansard.  Most of the local mansard roof lines are only seen on the front elevation and wrap just a little around to the sides; the roof is usually flat and slopes to the back to a single gutter.  My mansard wraps around the entire house and the gutters are integated in the brick on all four sides creating 
the most complicated, expensive and f-ed up gutter system encountered by local gutter experts.
 Here is a rear view, including the AC unit which by code has to be non-visible from the street.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Triple threat

This beauty on Brannon between Southwest and Arsenal is the Jennifer Lopez of the mansard world and I just hope it never produces twins.  This Mansard cannot sing, dance or act, but it does smush together three styles to make an ugly Mansard:  split level, Mansard roof, Swiss chalet.  Don't ignore the terrible windows, door or cable wire.