Monday, December 1, 2008

About This Site

About twenty years ago or more, I started the process of researching, reading, studying and developing a design for the house I wanted to build for my family. There had always been little doubt that it would be an English-inspired house, for I had always loved the Tudor style and its many variations. Our means were modest at the time, and I could not afford all of the authentic materials that would be required to really get the job done. Still, I feel I was successful in getting the basic design right, and at least incorporating enough of these elements (roof pitch, half-timbering and basic composition) to make the end result stand out among a crowd of modern-day homes.

Though I love historic Tudor architecture, and had been living in a 1914-era stucco-and shingle English cottage, I really took the work of Richard Norman Shaw as my essential inspiration, as well as the many victorian-era "Olde English" revival houses that can be seen in most older neighborhoods. The result was an affordable and unique home that has served us well over the past 16 years, and which has been gradually--through upgrades and modifications--turned into something like the house I had in mind when I began this process so long ago. And there is much yet to be done.

As the design and planning process developed, I had acquired a great number of books about English domestic architecture, as well as familiarity with its many variations (Norman, Medieval, Tudor, Elizabethan, Jacobethan, Stuart, Gothic and Victorian Revivals, Arts & Crafts, Edwardian...) but also the many architects and designers...from the unknown medieval masters to Robert Smythson and later victorian architects like Shaw, Devey, Butterfield, Baillie-Scott, Voysey, Lutyens and many others. Of course, I had one of the greatest examples of Americam Tudor Revival houses right here in Ohio, at Charles Schneider's Stan Hywet Hall as well as local work by American Architects like Howard Van Doren Shaw, Bloodgood Tuttle, Mead & Hamilton and others. For several years, when I worked at the edge of Shaker Heights, I spent many lunch hours walking the streets and admiring the beautiful tudor-revival homes of that beautiful area.

A few years after our house was built, I found myself at a loss, since--having accomplished by basic building goals--I just didn't know what to do with myself. I tried to figure out a way to put my knowledge to use, and finally settled on the idea of writing a historical novel, The Steadfast - a thriller which centers around a circa-1895 English architect named G. Morris Moneypenny. This kept me busy for a few years, and also allowed me to weave a lot of my knowledge, real historical characters and familiarity with famous houses and places of interest into the story.

Now, here I am a few years later, still looking for somthing to do. Though well-versed in technology and the internet, I admit I was not an early proponent of blogging. I thought there was already enough "noise" on the web, and frankly didn't see the point of having every lugnut with a point of view posting his thoughts for the rest of the world to read. But what I realize now is that I just misunderstood what blogs were all about; of course no one cares to read your musings about your cat, or what you had for breakfast. But if you have new information to share, interesting insights, forgotten secrets or access to something useful, then there is a point to posting, after all.

So that's my story. I'll add more as I post, but feel free to share your story with me, as well as your ideas and feedback. -MS

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