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Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Field Trip: The Olson House

Becky

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In Cushing, Maine, on a peninsula that just out into the awe-strikingly beautiful St. George’s River sits the Olson House. This house was made most famous by Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World,” which is part of MoMA’s permanent collection. Wyeth and his wife Betsy  became close friends with the owners and Wyeth went on to use an upstairs room as a studio. The Olson House is owned by The Farnsworth Museum, a gem of a smaller art museum in Rockland Maine. Admission to the Farnsworth gets you a pass to visit The Olson House as well, which is about a 20 minute drive from the museum.

photo by Becky Harris

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth

Betsy Wyeth described the house as “looming up like a weathered ship stranded on a hilltop.

photo by Becky Harris

Today patina style and rustic are very popular, and this old home is just so beautiful you realize it could never be replicated, but it serves as wonderful vernacular inspiration. Its simplicity and wonderful proportions makes it almost modern:

photo by Becky Harris

Its charm comes from a number of things, from the variation on the boards to the old glass used in the windows:

photo by Becky Harris

To the rusty hinges on the doors:

photo by Becky Harris

To the oil lamp inside the window:

photo by Becky Harris

Of course, the bucolic fields of wildflowers, evergreen forests and saltwater river nearby don’t hurt either:

photo by Becky Harris

If you’re ever anywhere near Thomaston, Maine (about two hours north of Portland), I highly recommend a visit.

Learn more information about The Olson House’s hours, admission and directions (watch out very carefully for signs, there’s a turn or two that’s easy to miss)

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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Bringing Up The Barn

Becky

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I remember looking for a house with my parents when I was a teenager – one of my favorites was a converted 19th century dairy barn. The center of the first floor had a two-story volume, with a balcony all around it that led to the bedrooms around the perimeter of the second floor. Everything had been painted white. The whole house had the feeling of a rustic gallery. It was super cool and supremely impractical for our family, but it’s stuck with me. Thus, I felt like seeking out some converted barns to share with you today.

Converting a barn can help preserve not only the building but also the feel of the agrarian landscape. These are treasures that all too often are left to rot and fall apart. Here are som wonderful examples of barns-turned-homes for people:

This one is from Colonial Barn Restoration Inc.

The way they converted the large barn door into an entryway with side lites and a transom is especially clever.

Original rustic beams, wood siding and doors keep the feeling of the old barn alive.

Another great thing about barns is that they have tons of space for things like basketball and racquetball courts.

This barn by Kissling Architecture in Fredericksburg, Texas has been converted into a gorgeous ranch house. It’s remarkable how the massing has such modern lines:

The original stone adds so much patina and history, both inside and out:

The way simple, vernacular lines of buildings like barns, built for form over function, compare to the clean lines and simplicity of modern architecture is quite striking. This is especially apparent in this rustic-meets-modern project by Aldridge & Tanno Architects:

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Monday, August 17th, 2009

Speaking of Colorado Ranches…

Becky

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It got me thinking about my favorite vernacular architecture in the USA – our barns. As small farmers become scarcer and scarcer, these beautiful structures that dot the rural landscape are falling into ruin as well. If you are interested in helping to preserve America’s barns, check out The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Barn Again! effort.

photograph by flickr member im pastor rick

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