|Craftsman - 907 Elk Street|
This wonderfully detailed, muscular, Craftsman Style bungalow at 907 Elk Street represents a reaction to the extravagant, machined, and mass-produced Victorian styles that were a product of the Industrial Revolution. While the house primarily shows the characteristics of the Craftsman Style, it is heavily influenced by a Japanese aesthetic, as well as a marked Gothic influence.
The Craftsman Style, known as the Arts and Crafts movement in England, came about as an urge to bring more simplicity of form, honesty in style, an emphasis on the use of local, natural materials and the visibility of handicraft to American homes.
Curving hand-wrought iron window boxes, gutter hangers and railings, powerful examples of the metalworkers art, can be seen as references to the basic Craftsman goals of honesty in style, an emphasis on the use of natural materials and the visibility of handicraft. Altogether, this home resonates with its own wonderful eclecticism, while demonstrating the simple virtues of materials and workmanship.
Interior features include two fireplaces, a wood paneled entrance hall and dining room with low, handmade built-in cabinets. Its facade shows a 1 1/2 story profile, shingled gables, and leaded glass double-hung windows in the Craftsman Style. The front pitch of the roof extends over the porch, another characteristic of the Craftsman Style, but it is supported by a massive wood Japanese style arbor on heavy brick columns.
In 1893 California architects Greene and Greene and Chicago’s Frank Lloyd Wright were strongly influenced by the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where they saw examples of Japanese architecture for the first time. Their immediate admiration of the style became a strong influence on their designs, which popularized such Japanese motifs at the time that this house was built. The Craftsman Style seen here has been modified to reflect that interest in Japanese architecture, which incorporated the clean lines, sturdy structure and natural materials, so evident in the entrance arbor.
Another exciting detail of this house are the pair of zinc grotesques, painted to resemble copper, perched on the steeply sloping Gothic gable peaks. Some would call these figures gargoyles, but those stone details of the Gothic Style are placed at the bottom of the roof and are fitted with a spout to carry water away from the sides of the structure. These figures, however, are not functional waterspouts. Many gargoyles are grotesque human figures; griffins have the body of a lion with the wings of an eagle, but these creatures most resemble dragons or serpents with wings. Gargoyles are said to scare off and protect from evil spirits and this, along with their artistic function, may be their intent.