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CIRCA School: Coffered Ceilings

by Jon Valalik (photo by Leo Schneggenburger) Grab your No. 2 pencils, everyone! It’s time for CIRCA School, where we uncover the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details.   This week in CIRCA School, we’ll be moving indoors to look at coffered ceilings. Coffered ceilings are another one of those ancient architectural elements that have been around for thousands of years, and will likely never go away due to their ability to turn an otherwise boring and often overlooked ceiling into something far more interesting!   var OB_platformType=3; var

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CIRCA School: Rustication

by Jon Valalik (photo by Wendell Rocky1) Grab your No. 2 pencils, everyone! It’s time for CIRCA School, where we uncover the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details.   Last week, our High Style column looked at the Richardsonian Romanesque style, on which one often encounters heavy rusticated stone. Rustication is such a powerful word, isn’t it? The term ultimately describes a type of stonework intentionally carved to look like rough masonry. The blocks that make up a rusticated wall are squared to fit together when stacked, with chamfered edges that make a wide, V-shaped joint between them.   var OB_platformType=3; var

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CIRCA School: Board + Batten

by Jon Valalik (photo of Cocke-Morris House by Universal Pops ) In CIRCA School, we uncover the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details. Today we’re looking at board and batten, that very vertical way of laying wooden siding found on Carpenter Gothic homes!   The humble beginnings of the board and batten technique in American architecture illustrates the middle class craving for high style that’s found throughout history and extends to the present. It’s a common theme in most societies. This practice is only one example of one period in one corner of the world, but it’s a pretty neat one.   var OB_platformType=3; var

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CIRCA School: Palladian Arch

by Jon Valalik (photo by Don Shall) In CIRCA School, we uncover the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details. Today’s lesson on the Palladian Arch takes us all the way back to the 2nd century!   Having a discussion about historic American architecture is next to impossible without mention of Andrea Palladio: Italian architect, High Renaissance master, and owner of a pretty incredible beard. Because of an immense amount of talent as well as very influential connections and clientele, Palladio’s influence has been shared throughout the world for nearly 500 years. His ability to adapt ancient Roman architectural ideals to what were modern types of buildings played a major role in his popularity and ultimately led to what may be his single most recognizable motif: The Palladian Arch!   var OB_platformType=3; var

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CIRCA School: Quoins

In CIRCA School, Amanda uncovers the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details. Today’s lesson is on quoins, those Tetris-like stacked “blocks” that line the corners of buildings.   When it came to my architectural history classes, I was one geeky undergrad (well, I was probably geeky in general, but that’s another story). I just loved it all! Besides being able to travel the world and go back in time without leaving the lecture hall, my professors gave me an appreciation for the many wonderful layers that make up old buildings. The transformation of many architectural features from structural to decorative was a topic that always fascinated me. And so on that note, I thought today we could chat about quoins. An unusual word, isn’t it?   var OB_platformType=3; var

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Dentils: C’mon Old House, Show Us Your Pearly Whites!

Welcome to CIRCA School, in which Amanda uncovers the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details. The dentists among us will get a good laugh at today’s lesson!   Welcome back from a long holiday break. School’s back in session! If all that eggnog didn’t mess with your memory, you’ll recall that last time we traveled back to the Middle Ages to look at the origins of half-timbering. Today, let’s go back even further to antiquity – over some 2,000 years ago – to chat about dentils!   var OB_platformType=3; var

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Half-Timbering: A Tale as Old as Time

Welcome to CIRCA School, in which Amanda uncovers the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details. Today’s lesson has been around since the Middle Ages, so it’s about time we learned it!   After a nice holiday break, it’s back to school we go! Let’s take a look at half-timbering, one of those wonderful Old World treasures that really took off on our shores in the 19th and 20th centuries. These flat timbers – typically paired with stucco or brick infill – were used to great decorative effect on the upper floors and gables of Tudors, Queen Annes, Craftsmans, and a few other house styles of a century or two ago. But did you know that half-timbering has practical roots that date way back to the Middle Ages?   var OB_platformType=3; var

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