|A house made of old growth fir, intact after a hundred years and a succession of owners|
Our antique bungalow is made almost entirely from the old-growth Douglas fir readily available back in 1913 on Vancouver Island. Its original footprint and exterior cladding were intact when I bought it, although several sections along the base of the building would require replacing when the exterior was finally repaired. And, best of all, it turns one hundred in 2013, which is a pretty good go for a wooden artifact and, I feel, should be a cause for celebration.
|Faux rock foundation, stuccoed walls, window frames submerged, detailing minimized|
|Lack of maintenance and depreciating value reduce chances of survival over the long run|
|LA's freeways consume colossal spaces, often at the expense of earlier neighbourhoods|
|Neglected, maintenance deferred, this house is repairable but it seems increasingly unlikely|
|Then again, if someone cares enough to see the house's potential, anything is possible.|
The Savages were lucky enough to land in Victoria at the apex of an economic boom, then affecting all North American cities - a time when demand for architects abounded even in a place as small as Victoria. Expectations of surging growth, on the Vancouver model, spread like wildfire, and speculation in land was rampant. However, within a year of occupying their new digs out in the back of beyond, the Savage's access to the benefits of growth and prosperity would evaporate, as an economic slump that dried up commissions arrived hand in hand with the advent of global warfare.
|Retaining wall for a two-house infill development - an 'engineered' solution leaving everything to be desired|
I sometimes try to visualize what it would have been like out here without a built-up neighbourhood around it. But I always end up thinking that it was a miracle that just enough land remained around the original homestead to retain the sense of a house placed relatively comfortably in a natural setting, a rare and unusual attribute in our more closely built suburbs. Many an historic house has had its entire landscape context filched from it by insensitive infill development. The Savage bungalow got lucky, again (thanks to daughter Joy and her husband Albert, who cared enough about 'the old place' she grew up in to see that it wasn't mangled by subdivision).
I hope to use Century Bungalow to share my experience with maintenance and restoration of an older wooden house, to place it in relation to the broader bungalow phenomenon in order to understand its character better, to inquire about the intentions of its designer and the influences swirling around and through him, and also to sing its many praises, all the while creating a record of its condition as it turns 100. All of which I hope will improve, however slightly, its prospects for survival as it embarks on its second century. And allow me to share it with all of you.
I hope you enjoy it – I have been for twenty-five years now!