One of the best side benefits of designing and building a house is my heightened appreciation for all things architecturally related. I am enjoying seeing familiar places with new eyes, and appreciating the beauty that has always been there, but escaped my notice.
This building, part of the National Cathedral School in Washington D.C., has always been a favorite because of its distinctive green slate roof. It was designed by Robert W. Gibson in the French Chateau style, and was built in 1899-1900. As I passed by it recently, on a gray and rainy day, the green of the roof was particularly striking. This photo was taken with my iphone, so lacks a lot of clear detail.
The dormers on this building are particularly striking to me. The rhythm of the small simple dormers flanking the elaborately styled limestone dormer is very pleasing, and a closeup reveals a little tiny former above the central element. I wonder what this space looks like on the inside?
I returned the next day, when the sun was out. The five spandrel figures (called such as they are carved into the spandrel – the space between the curve of an arch and the rectilinear boundary moulding) can be seen from this vantage point. They were sculpted by Louis Amateis (1855-1913), who also carved the bronze doors of the Capitol building; given that the school is all girls, they are called ‘‘The Qualities of Womanhood’. (source)
A better picture of the roofline and the beautifully carved limestone window surround on the dormer.
A side view of the building is just as beautiful, with even more layers of dormers on the roof.
A detailed view of the carvings in the central dormer. It’s amazing to me how much detail and effort went into the design of this element, which can’t even be seen clearly from the ground. (source)
Although I did not notice it when taking the pictures, the lantern piques my interest.
A photo on Flickr (source) shows a more complete view of the back side of the building.
This building is just around the corner from the house where I lived from age 4 to 8; I must have walked by hundreds of times, and yet never really noticed the details until this trip to DC.
In researching this post, I came across a book that looks quite intriguing:
It is described as a fascinating tour of Washington D.C.’s monuments, statues, headstones, and memorials. Click here to purchase on Amazon.
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