Gardens to Gables

Escape to the Catskills: Exploring Callicoon, New York

The Western Hotel (on the right), and on the left, the Zimmerman Building, its mansard roof almost hidden.

It’s been a exhaustively hot summer in Kentucky this year. Although graced by the technology of central air conditioning, I’ve thought with longing about children’s books I read decades ago that described the decampment from urban cores to shady mountain retreats (I believe the Bobbsey Read More

Exploring in Maysville, Kentucky: Philip Discovers Phillips Folly

Phillips Folly is located at the corner of Third and Sutton Streets in downtown Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky.

One of the perks of being a lover of historic architecture is the complete annihilation of boredom. There is always something new to see and appreciate, even in the most modest and humble of buildings (unless I happen to be stranded in sprawl land, surrounded Read More

For the Living and the Dead: The Historic Tradition of Family Reunions

The 1911 Reunion at Oil Springs, Clark County, Kentucky.

I’ve never shied away from “purple prose” in my own writing, and I find the language in the historic newspapers to be the heights of delightful floridity.This past weekend, my family celebrated its 123rd annual (or 122nd, we’re not exactly sure) reunion – a long-standing Read More

A Late (and Humid) July Sojourn in Mobile, Alabama

Though I saw plenty of impressive porticos, I was just as intrigued by the Mobile's collection of Craftsman bungalows and Revival-style dwellings.

I’ve never really considered Kentucky to be southern – one of the things I love most about this Commonwealth, in addition to its geographic contradictions, is its ability to defy categorization and labels. And after spending five days in Mobile, Alabama, I return to the Read More

The Death of a Corner Gas Station in Newport, Kentucky

The gas station at the corner of 5th and York in Newport, Kentucky.

There are any number of attractions that cause me to pull my car over and hop out with my camera – historic corner gas stations being near the top of the list. I’ve photographed the ones I know of in Lexington (my favorite is in Read More

An Architectural Whimsical Treat: The Storybook Style

The Spadena House in BeverlyHills, California is perhaps the most famous example of the Storybook Style. Photo Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons.

All buildings have stories (that’s my personal philosophy anyway). But some architectural styles are all about the story – such as the aptly-Storybook Style – a short-lived, whimsical flourishing of houses evocative of fairy tales, medieval Europe, and an architect’s fevered imagination. And, it all Read More

Namesakes and Gables: The Henry Clay Peak House in Warsaw, Kentucky

The circa 1869 Henry Clay Peak House in Warsaw, Gallatin County, Kentucky.

I am always amused by the lists released each year heralding popular baby names, and the origin of some of those choices. The practice of naming babies after famous people isn’t a trend unique to today’s pop culture obsessed world. In Kentucky, scores of children Read More

I’ll be in the Field: A Short Explanation of Historic Survey

This late-19th century house in the Bath county community of Bethel is gone.

I did not enter into the field of architectural history and historic preservation for the money (I know this comes as a shock). In addition to the oft-paltry salary endured by many of my colleagues, the most interesting projects in our field are usually the Read More

The Curious Fad of Octagon Houses in 19th Century America

Kentucky does have a few octagon houses!

Bell bottoms. Beanie babies. Disco and the Atkins Diet. Fads are curious, strange creatures, and likely to reappear (especially in fashion) when least expected. I am not certain that this truism exists in architecture, for I have yet to spy the fad of octagon houses taking Read More

Movie Magic and Dreams: The New Pastime Theater, Falmouth, Kentucky

The New Pastime Theater in Falmouth, Kentucky.

A healthy imagination is a vital part of my profession – that, and a good dose of optimism. Otherwise, I would be inundated by depression from watching countless buildings fall and communities wither. Whenever I visit a new place, I always find a building I would Read More