Sayonara

Sometimes there is a generalized bowing to a specific style. This alteration, refaced in 1954 by Pepper Associates, replaced the brick front wall in a joining of two 19th-century rowhouses, now four bays wide. In 1959 this was a two-family residence, but in 1994 it became a single-family with a deck added by the husband-wife design build firm, Foster-Willson.

Dark turquoise paned windows and iron balcony, Japanese-style shoji-screen wooden entry door covered by a copper roof with wooden brackets – this is a quiet design, and modest … and snazzy. The effect is aided by the perfect natural elements: a less than straight tree, a stone slab rendering an entry porch, a cloud-like foundation planting that one might see pictured in an Edo-period scroll painting. It is a simple alteration in a simple style, a kind of “Japonism” applied to urban architecture, embellishing a plain building. It is, also, a perfect enhancement that does not overwhelm the adjacent houses.

New ownership altered the design making a vague gesture toward Georgian-Federal styles: its entry now a simplified pediment and pilasters, new panel door, black painted shutters; sacrificing all the hipness to create a faux standard issue in the cradle of democracy. Lost, too, are the cloud-like shrubs, replaced by black-box window planters. Hard to imagine why. The tree may go next, erasing all the Asian traces. Sayonara.

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