Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kirkwood Mansard with Greek columns (of course)

Check out this big, stupid, ugly mansard in Kirkwood on Kirkwood Road (aka Lindbergh Road).  Of course it's stupid and ugly- it's in Kirkwood!  Webster High School class of 1989 rocks!  (this is in jest- I sadly lacked all forms of school spirit or municipal pride).  So anyway, this is a big ugly bank in the middle of a parking lot with a dumb, oversized mansard.  Love the faux Greek columns.  Oh, didn't you know that Greek columns, mansard rooflines and barberry bushes were all the rage in Second Empire France?  

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sidney Street shout-out

Sometimes a mansard gets it right. This house on Sidney gets it so right that it deserves a special, "if you re-do your mansard, do it like this." The mansard was recently redone and it looks wonderful- tile colors, pattern, paint. This house is wedged between my friend Annie K. and Niche Restaurant.

I love Sidney Street, which straddles Soulard and Benton Park. It's a culinary destination- Niche, Sidney Street Cafe and Trueman's. Ok, I've never had the food at Trueman's but it attracts a lot of cops which means it probably has good food. I've been told Niche, SSC and Trueman's are all well-behaved neighbors and they keep the Sidney lively. On the Soulard side, there's Big Daddy's and Cat's Meow, which are slightly more boisterous.

Sidney is also historically relevant as the original corridor of numerous breweries and beer baron houses, many of which include an subterranean root cellar under actual Sidney Street. In case you're wondering about my house and beer/root cellar, I don't live on Sidney but I'm very close.

One of my first city hang-outs, circa 1988, was an apartment on Sidney very close to Sidney Street Cafe (SSC). My high school friend Joe D. lived on his own at age 17. Needless to say, it became a haven for underaged drinking. In retrospect, wow, how lucky were we to have our own boozy flophouse as high school seniors.

The street was very unpolished at the time; SSC was one of the few highlights. The street had a few pioneers working to rehab their places, but it was very early for budding Benton Park. Fast forward 21 years: I push my stroller down Sidney and chuckle at the progress the neighborhood and I have made together as a team. Just like I don't sneak into bars, get drunk and pass out in apartments anymore, Sidney is respectable, mature and a responsible drinker.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flad is French for bad mansard, Pt. 1

I could say a lot, but I won't.  Even though I hate the mansard roof, someone spent good money to live in St. Louis city and now calls this mansard home; for that reason I must show respect.  Here's what I'd say to the homeowner at a hypothetical cocktail party:

"They mansard is a little awkward with the turret.  I wish the foundation weren't poured concrete; it would be nice if it were masonry like the rest of Shaw. Wow- that's an interesting bay window."

The concrete bunker mansard to the left is a 2-family with an out of town landlord, so we'll be mansard snarky (word blend= mansnarky) on Flad later.


I love this sweet little mini-Mansard on Flora Place in Shaw. Tres chic. Mansards aren't that prevalent in Shaw. True, there are some period faux-sards (buildings with a 'cap' on them to resemble a mansard) and one super bad infill mansard we'll see tomorrow. But not many mansards as cute as this: Excellent proportion, nice colors and well-executed landscaping. Perfect little empty nest house. I would love to live there in 2035 when I am 65 and ready to retire. I'll hobble to mass at St. Margaret's and work in the Shaw/Flora Place garden club.

My kids were ready to move to Flora Place yesterday. They would love to be closer to their school, their friends and have the wonderful green space for playing. I love our house now; not sure I'd ever move. If I did, I've got my eye on this house, also on Flora Place.

I case you were wondering, I have 4 St. Louis dream streets: Flora Place, Shaw Place, Hawthorne, and Longfellow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

C'est trop grand et trop noir

I feel bad deeming this development a bad mansard but since it gets in my face daily, I have no choice.  It's asking for it.

Here we have the newly built Union Club by Gilded Age at Jefferson and Lafayette on the site of an old Aldi. When I lived in Lafayette Square I actually used to shop there on occasion- it was too cheap to pass up.  And I am nothing if not cheap.  5 cans for $1.00.  Cannot beat that with a stick, but this mansard deserves a beating.

The Bad Union Mansard (BUM) started off well.  The neighbors were happy to replace the Aldi. The developers originally promised "mixed street level retail and residential."  blah blah blah.  Everyone says that.  This usually means residential over some retail- sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.

Here's what the plans look like, and specifically the front elevation- link here.  Unfortunately, I seldom drive that part of Lafayette.  I usually see the back side of the Union Club about 5 times a day, as does anyone who travels on highway 44 or Jefferson.  This mansard always has its exophthalmic eyes boring into the back of you skull.  It's such a shockingly large mansard that it's easy to lose focus and drive off the road.

I appreciate the brick facade (although I bet it's just veneer) and the effort made with the turrets. I sense that the developer cared at street level, but clearly checked out early on the mansard.  Such a huge bad mansard is certainly ironic given Lafayette Square's stock of gorgeous 2nd Empire Victorians with flawless mansard roofs.

This roof looks like it was fabricated in a giant's workshop and shoved on top of an unsuspecting dollhouse with Super 77 and shoo-goo.  There's no variety in color, texture or tile. No windows- in fact, there are more windows on one wall of the single family "printemps" mansard below than the ENTIRE southern elevation of this 39-unit development.  Like its subsidized public housing mansard fail neighbors to the east at Lafayette and Tucker, this giant, hulking mansard looks like the Stay Puff marshmallow man and charcoal briquet cross-breed; the unibrow of mansards.

Bad Union Mansard (BUM) does look decent at street level, assuming you don't look all the way to the top of the building.   Get used to this bad mansard- there's no escaping its bulky gaze.  

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tres petit

Benton Park has many of these enfant mansards, especially along Lemp Street.  I don't know why they're only 2/3 the size of a regular 2nd Empire.  I've heard that the small stature permitted the homeowner to show off a mansard roof line without the expense of a larger house.  

These and Lustron homes are my "isn't that a cute little house?  I'd like the pluck that up and put it in my pocket!"   I ordinarily like houses that are the architectural equivalent of the nickname assigned to my husband by his college friends:  the Big American Giant.  

Friday, March 20, 2009

A cheerful printemps mansard

This is one of my favorite mansards.  It's what I like to call Bricktorian- a brick second empire Victorian.  I love the jaune (yellow) trim.  I am most impressed with the northern wall- count those windows!  If you've ever replaced just ONE window, you can certainly appreciate the cost and effort of replacing 22 of them.  It's spring and this house always has an impressive daffodil display.  

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mansard Garage

I'm sure the neighbors love this garage/towing facility on Sidney and California.  The building has lovely brickwork, shape and proportion but the mansard was horribly papered.  And I don't even know where to start with that window on the mansard with the small lean-to over it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sans Mansard, part deux

This poor mansard is missing its rear.  And roof.  Corner of Olive and 22nd.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jacques dans le Box

Jack in the Box restaurants rock the bad 70's mansard look.  This location is at Gravois and Gustine.  I don't know how to pronounce Gustine- I say "Gus-Teen" which reminds me of this Cosby Show where Theo sings the blues for Justine.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Brewers and Mansards

This is a good picture. My 3 yo son G. is in the forefront pulling a sled. That's a serious mansard behind him, the home of Max Feuerbacher, proprietor of the Green Tree Brewery. The smoke in the background is steam from the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Learn more about Feuerbacher and his brewery here.