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addled architecture: split personalities

June 16

I started reading Old House Journal as a pre-teen. Yes, even at that young age I was enamored with design, especially old architecture.  And since I was a child I have found the OHJ remuddling of the month segment particularly enjoyable – on one hand depressing and saddening to note misguided ‘improvements’ and on the other hand, helping to appreciate when original, well-constructed and designed architecture is preserved and admired.

In honour of this favourite feature I will present examples of addled architecture that I come across.  Ideally the best examples include a neighbouring building that is more purely intact.  Sometimes the example is right next door, or literally so close it’s touching. Today’s post features three examples of semi-detached homes on the same block of Brunswick Ave. in Toronto, just north of Harbord St., that appear to have developed split personalities.

These two tiny semis are clear examples of remuddling, with evident details of the past such as the facia boards along the rooflines and the original Insulbrick siding. Unfortunately both sides of the all white semi have ditched the sash windows that would have been the original styling of the houses in poor favour of those sickly fixed-pane with small sliding section windows, with which so many Torontonians have so ruined the facades of their homes. The other altered example is so simplified it is missing its tiny attic window, further lop-siding the whole structure.

This example shows how one can ‘improve’ the elegantly classic and unique to Toronto design of Victorian row and semi-detached homes – the Toronto Bay-and -Gable. The original design on the left pays quiet homage to the well-balanced design, whereas the improvements on the right leave a lot to be desired. The faux stone facade looks more inappropriately castle-like than quaint, while the top of the double bay domineers.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17 9:27 am

    I really have a distaste for mis-matched semi-detached houses. Its like some owners go out of their way to make their house radically different from their neighbour’s and from the intrinsic character of their house.


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