Sunday, October 15, 2006
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Unlike the houses in subdivisions or urban settings, where uniformity is typical, if not mandated, cabins often lack any clear style, instead conveying the unique design ideas of the owner. Often employing inferior, found or second hand materials, their designs are often unexpected, revealing the sensibilities of the owner/builder rather than a trained architect or someone with design training. Form followed function, but with interesting embellishments. For better or worse, the odd proportions, mismatched colors, unexpected materials, and quirky details, which would be scorned or mocked in a suburban development, are exactly what give these structures the soul that ordinary houses often lack. Of course, some possess an elegance and style that was the happy outcome of either chance or a native sense of good design.
Cabins were often the product of sweat equity, weekend construction binges, and a great deal of vision and love. They generally belong to an era of our parents and grandparents; an era that predates zoning and building codes. Their builders were modern day pioneers. They bought parcels of land in the far flung "north woods," often not having any clear idea of the boundaries of their property, and hauled materials from great distances in order to cobble together what might initially have served as a hunting or fishing shack. Indeed, some of these straddle property lines, to which collegial neighbors continue to remain indifferent. The lucky ones were able to snag parcels on a lake or river, or at least with some access to recreational waters. The others contently sat in their woods, warming themselves at their hand built fireplaces. Mortgages were unheard of, unless privately held by the seller or some relative. This is a bygone era; a time when people didn’t think twice about enduring the lack of heat or even water. If there wasn’t money for a well yet, water would be hauled from the lake by the bucket and a wood burning stove dispelled the morning chill.
Sadly, these cabins and shacks are slowly being replaced by ordinary houses (often every surface painted some shade of taupe or brown), following strict guidelines of zoning, building code and sometimes neighborhood association. In Door County today, zoning regulations prohibit the construction of sorts of buildings I exhibit here. They either don’t meet the minimum area requirements, don’t meet building code standards, are too close to the water, or otherwise don’t comply with the hundreds of nonsensical regulations that “we” have imposed on ourselves.
My photo blog is intended to document some of these interesting concoctions. And to serve as an homage to the vanishing middle class that built them.
Most photos after October, 2008 taken with a Canon G10.
Photos taken after October 31, 2007 taken with a Canon G9.
Previous photos taken with a Canon Powershot SD450 or earlier Canon Elph models.