Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A little architecture tourism

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)

Purity (source)

Faith (source)

Art/Music (source)

Motherhood (source)

Nursing (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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  1. Holly,

    This is so beautiful! Really, really beautiful!

    I love architecture, in fact my post for tomorrow will also be about architecture! :-) It's so captivating, so interesting and you can learn so much with it.

    Thank you very much for making this post. I see you took the time to make it and I can always appreciate a well-done post as this one.

    Have a blessed week!


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

    Post of the Day: Talking about High Gloss with Paloma Contreras.

  2. Beautiful! Enjoyed this tour thoroughly, it really shows its all about the details!
    Nancy xo

  3. Wow! So beautiful. I am taking a course on Italian art history and we are studying architecture. I find the different architecture very interesting.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Beautiful indeed..almost felt like i was looking at a grand Parisian buliding! Nothing like limestone and the carvings are amazing....actually going to DC on Thurs. for a few days..always a treat as its such a beautiful city with so many fabulously inspriational architectural buildings.
    Thanks for highlighting this gem........(love that lantern too, we are looking at outdoor lighting as we speak and have come across some great sources for more period replica type lanterns such as the one above and I too am really drawn to them) Good night.....

  5. Beautiful You missed your calling - you should have been an architect, and a darn fine one you would be! :)

    xo Terri

  6. Holy isn't it amzing the gorgeous buildings we drive by everday until something spurs us on to take in all of th intricate details!

    Do come and enter my Artful Offering!It is truly beautiful!

    Art by Karena

  7. Wow!!! Most of my friends are in Washington right now with their 5th grade children....so glad I'm not!!! But...my angel of a daughter in law and my only grandchild are in Italy and have been for the past 2 weeks staying with their Dr/friend...enjoying Italian architecture...and trying to get well!!!I truly would LOVE to be seeing this wonderful architecture in any venue!! Thanks for posting!!

  8. Holly, it's a good thing we don't live closer together or we'd go for a walk and get stuck at a beautiful building like that and never leave! I can stare for hours at all that detail.

    We don't have quite the same architecture here, but San Francisco has some pretty amazing roofl ines as well.

  9. Stunning - I have walked by this building so many times, never really noticed it. Thank you for opening my eyes! You truly inspire!

  10. The things one takes for granted. I must have passed by that building dozens of time while living in Georgetown...and seeing it through your eyes, it takes a totally new dimension!

  11. It is great to see the world through your eyes. You should write a book!

  12. Dear Holly,
    I am always surprised by all the beautiful buildings to find in the US! Really!! I am glad you post about this building in Washington! It is gorgeous! And as you said if you are building a new house, you are so aware of all the wonderful things and architectural details to see , things you hadn't noticed before!
    Thank you my friend for mntionning the name of your architct! I have already mentionned it at my post of study rooms! To me you have chosen one of the best architects! Can't wait to see his finished website (it is under construction at this moment).
    Wish you a wonderful day!

  13. Great post. So many wonderful buildings we drive by everyday and don't notice. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. What a beautiful building and agree that when you're working on a project you looking at everything with renewed interest. Something we should make an effort to do on a regular basis!

  15. Thanks for sharing this beautiful building. One of my favorite things to do is to ride around and look at fabulous architecture.


  16. The meticulous details are true exquisite beauty! I love the view from the backside of the building. It makes me lie on that grass and stare at the beauty all day!

  17. Wow, thank you so much for the upfront tour of this wonderful building. It is amazing how many special buildings there are in the District that we just drive and walk by every day without really taking notice.

  18. This is exactly what I adore about living right outside of DC. I live in Clarendon which is a 5 minute drive to Georgetown and a 25 minute walk, which we do quite often. I love the historical buildings in DC and the fact that there are no high rises...it is so much fun to walk around and just gaze at the architectural details. So glad to have found your blog...just lovely!!!

  19. What an amazingly beautiful building. I loved seeing the detailed pix of the qualities of womanhood.

    Also, I voted for your site for the top 25 mom blogs! Even though mine is listed too, I just had to vote for my favs.


  20. Some amazing details. I'm going to have to check out on my next DC trip.


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