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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Columbia Archives Walking Tours

   This past Saturday the Columbia Archives hosted the first walking tours of areas around Town Center.  The beautiful weather brought out a large number of walkers to go on one of three tours.  I choose the tour of the Birches section of Wilde Lake.
       This neighborhood had always interested me when I would bike through this area.  The homes are all customized unlike many neighborhoods of Columbia.  They provide many good examples of the architectural styles popular in the 1960's.
     These contemporary designed homes featured what is know as "pillar and post" construction that permits more open interior spaces. This type of design was frequently used in American colonial times.  The modern design differed in the aspect that now there was frequent use of exterior windows that permitted many exterior natural views.
   There were even some whimsical designs such as this ship bow facing on one of the homes.  Notice the ship steering wheel on the deck.

   This home has always caught my attention with the entrance to the house through an enclosed courtyard that is common in many homes in Italian cities.
    There are some examples of the pre Columbia homes in this area of Columbia. The picture above is a building of a 19th blacksmith shop. From the Archives website:
"10106 Hyla Brook • began as a blacksmith shop in the early1800s. It is historically significant for Columbia because it was the site of Columbia’s temporary post office that opened August
15, 1966. In 1981 Bruno Reich purchased the small stone and stucco structure. He spent 16 years creating the unique structure that now adds to the architectural landscape. "

     Finally we were able to tour the John McDonough home on Hyla Brook that combined an old 19th century section with a large recent addition. Again from the Archives website:

"This imposing private home,purchased by John McDonough in 2002 and renovated and enlarged, was the only one of the original Oakland structures that was not acquired by The Rouse Company
during the land acquisition thereby putting it in the outparcel category. George and Edith Ralston had purchased the home in the late 1950s and had no interest in selling even when they were aware that a city would grow around them. While McDonough’s renovation is extensive, adding 3500 square feet, there is a nod to the historic heritage. He retained the existing windows, the 100 year-old oak floor in the parlor and the 200 year old pine floor in one second story bedroom. The dormers were added to replicate those on the barn. During construction the stone walls were found to be structurally unsound and needed to be re-mortared to reestablish structural stability. The house is currently on the market listed for just under $1million."

     Unfortunately the economics of the housing market in the 1970's and 80's made this type of housing diversity unsustainable.  Jim Rouse's desire to have neighborhoods with different styles gave way to the more typical housing tract homes that offered 3 or 4 models to homeowners.  While we never had a sameness of a Levittown  we don't see this type of neighborhood in the Columbia villages built in the 1980's.

1 comment:

Sherringham said...

I also enjoyed the Birches tour! I hope that the archives can create some more of these walks. I enjoyed going into the two home and what great weather. (I was also not at all surprised that I was by far the youngest member of the group there!)