Sunday, December 25, 2011


I was planning a really, really ugly bad mansard post today. It didn't happen. This antique pier mirror messed everything up. My husband bought it for me from Sambeau's in the Central West End for our one year anniversary in 1999. We brought it from our first house in Lafayette Square to this house and bolted it to the wall in 2002. I never thought another thing about it.

Until this morning when it came crashing down on top of our 3 1/2 year old Mimi. And there was blood, glass, shattered wood and teeth everywhere. She had a few scrapes and three baby teeth got knocked out by the force of her face hitting the floor (fortunately an area rug softened the blow). Despite the injury and damage, I felt incredibly lucky. That thing could have killed her. It's heavy wood and the glass is about 1/4 inch thick.

Our good friend is a dentist and will check her out tomorrow. Fingers and eyes crossed everything is ok.

So, to all you moms raising kids in old houses, I have advice for you. The dangers of keeping little ones safe in a house 100+ years old are different than in a newer house. For sure newer houses have problems too. But older houses have some inherent risks to kids.

  • Our staircases are much, much steeper. There are 21 stairs from my first floor to the second floor. They are not carpeted. The stairs from my 2nd to 3rd floor are incredibly narrow and steep. You haven't had the wits scared out of you until you hear a toddler fall down 16 stairs.

  • The glass in some of our windows and mirrors is old- usually super thick and leaded glass. It usually won't break, but when it does get out of the way because it created giant jagged pieces of mirror daggers.

  • Lead paint and asbestos. Even if your house has been sanded down to wood, repainted this decade and abated, it won't stop some moron from throwing contaminated drywall and insulation out the second story window of your neighbors house creating a layer of poison dust all over your yard.

  • The doors are giant and solid wood. Little fingers get pinched quite easily and accompanied by a horrifying crunch.

  • Hardwood is lovely but slippery.

  • The ceilings are so very, very tall. My 6'5" husband has to stand on top of a ladder to access the lightbulbs. One time he fell and almost landed on then-baby Gus snoozing in his pumpkin seat.

  • Because the ceilings are high and the rooms can be large- furniture is super-sized. Bookcases, mirrors, dressers, etc. Looks great but more horrible if it falls on your kid.

I will argue that an older home is 100% better for raising kids than a newer home. That said, let's all do a safety check and make sure the accidents happen less frequently.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bad Mansard Yacht Club

Boats always look so out of place in the city. It's pretty clear you aren't going boating anywhere on your property if you live in the city of St. Louis.

You know what also looks ridiculous on this place? The porch!! I can't tell whether the roof or the porch was the add-on to this house. Given the neighbor house with the mansard and the brick color of the porch, I am going with porch addition.

House is somewhere near Ivanhoe and McCune. I found it while I was looking for the holy grail of south city bad mansards. That will be featured on Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Where would you move?

One time at a dinner party we played a game*. Each guest had to pick 5 cities to be transferred to. It made for interesting conversation. We learned where other people had lived and what was important to them in selecting a new city. I picked Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City and maybe New York or Austin. My reasoning was having many friends and families in those cities, decent culture, and school options .

There is a spin on the big city transfer game. It's the small town Missouri game. Pick a small town to live in if you couldn't liv

e in St. Louis. Hands down my pick is cute Washington, Missouri. About 50 miles down interstate 44 to the west of St. Louis on the Missouri River, Washington was founded by Germans features great houses, big churches, a cute downtown and neat restaurants and shops. Washington is a combination of two places I already have lived- the small town feel of Webster Groves mixed with the big bricks, river and festival-centric nature of the City of St. Louis.

And this cutie-patootie mansard. Where would you live if you had to pick a big city or a small Missouri town?

**Beware my dinner parties. There will be a good chance you will play a hypothetical game or a board game or a drinking game.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Well proportioned and handsome

Isn't this Flora Place house cute? I found it in my mansard photo folder and I think I was 'saving it' for the holidays. I guess it is the right season to post it. I like how there is a pumpkin on the porch and a Christmas wreath on the door, just like my house.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Flora place

I am working on some juicy bad mansard posts. Until I finish with those, I am presenting to you one of my favorite houses on Flora Place. It is somewhat plain compared to the larger mansions that surround it. 3816 Flora is where my grandmother grew up back in the 1930's and 1940's. A gorgeous and smart lady who matriculated from Roosevelt High School and later from Washington University.

She was Presbyterian and attended Tyler Place Church around the corner from this house. I, on the other hand, am Catholic and drive my kids over to school in her old neighborhood to attend St. Margaret of Scotland. I came across a family genealogy chart that showed her mother's family (the Starr's and Chester's) to be descendants of, wait for it, Queen Margaret of Scotland. Small world.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cooking with bad mansard

Two of my favorite St. Louis products, both available at Vincent's. I don't know the folks at Vivienne's, but the Lochhead vanilla people are friends. The women on the photo are my friend M's mother/sister in-laws. Love the Lochhead vanilla. It's manufactured out in Fenton but the consumer bottles are packaged here in Soulard.