July 3rd 2014

going goth

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Approaching the Independence Day holiday, I traditionally like to celebrate an architectural style that was created here in the good ol’ USA. These unmistakable designs populate our landscape and stand as constructed testaments to the innovative minds of the American architect and builder.
smithcottageThis year, I’d like to spotlight the Carpenter Gothic style. Often called Rural Gothic, it’s a style designation for an application of Gothic Revival architectural detailing and picturesque massing applied to wooden structures built by house-carpenters. The traditional Gothic style of architecture, popular in the cathedrals of Medieval Europe, has often been described as an architecture that attempts to leave its earthly confines by reaching to the heavens. Sculpted primarily in stone, the graceful and vertical structures of the Gothic era literally took architecture to new heights.  This popular European style, however, became something new once it reached the crafty hands of rural America.

Stone may not have been prevalent or easy to mine and carve here but timber was in rich abundance. Thus, detailing found in carved stone was primitively improvised in wood resulting in a picturesque style that was both charming and quaint. Carpenter Gothic houses and churches became common in North America in the late nineteenth century and featured adapted Gothic elements such as pointed arches and steep gables. Vertical wood siding, such as board and batten, played up the verticality of the Gothic design.  Otherwise (in our distinct puritanical American way), these buildings were relatively unadorned.

Grant Wood’s iconic painting “American Gothic” used this style as an apt rural backdrop for a staunch looking husband and wife.  This painting beautifully illustrates the heartland spirit, whose roots were firmly planted in American soil, but possessed strong hearts that soared as high to the heavens as their European counterparts.

The following are some of our dabblings in this celebrated American style.

Loudermilch-001-800x600 copy

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side exterior

Faithfully,
Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley

1 comment

  1. Carpenter Gothic is my favorite of all historic architectural styles, and it is so beautifully rendered in your creative hands!

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