Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NM Queen Anne and Victorian Style Architecture Traits

Miramon House - Taos
Padre Martinez House (addition)  - Taos
 By 1879, the Queen Anne style, which had nothing to do with the queen for whom it was named, had already been vastly popular in the Eastern US for more than 20 years. When the railroad arrived in New Mexico that year, so did change. The rails made access to materials and labor quite a bit more manageable, so large expanses of glass, metal milled lumber, and milled and fabricated details became much more commonplace. With the introduction of the Queen Anne style into New Mexico came various infusions of Victorian style, including wrap-around porches like the one added to the green and white Walter Ufer House on Des Georges Lane just east of the Taos Plaza, shingle details, and pure Queen Anne details like those found on the Miramon House on the northeast corner of Morada Lane and Kit Carson. This was a particularly embraced fashion of building in the “Territories” as it encouraged individuation and experimentation with materials – two skills for which the territorialists were reknown.

Queen Anne style architecture in New Mexico is characterized by:

Structure, Walls, and Exterior
  • An asymmetrical plan
  • Corner towers; dormers; bays and turrets
  • An irregular, steep roof, constructed of terra cotta or pressed metal, rarely with an iron roof crest
  • Elaborate turned wooden details

  • Wood Windows, with divided lites
  • Panel Doors most common
  • Scalloped and shaped shingles
  • Turned spindles and highly detailed balusters, posts, brackets, corbels, and rails
  • "Renovations” and “Restorations” of existing buildings added pitched roofs, fine wooden detailing, and copings.
Those styles that are a hodge-podge of Victorian tastes are referred to by the State’s Historic Preservation Division as “Folk Victorian.” Other styles were introduced with the arrival of the railroad including Italianate and Romanesque. Some of the churches in the area were “modernized” to have to details of the Romanesque and Gothic Revivals popular in the East. This updating was dictated by the European-architecture enthusiast Bishop Lamy of Santa Fe, who was French and a franco-phile in every way, as were the mass of missionaries he brought to serve the peoples of his bishopdom.

Merchants and traders, as well as military service, had made some rich. Prospecting and other interests made others even richer. Affluence was demonstrated, and as happens, separations between the haves and have-nots became obvious in architecture as well as in life - elaborate lodges were built in the hunting and ranching areas and mansions erected in the cities.

The rails were bringing ideas from the Eastern AND Western states now, and the timing of the influx of Anglos was almost like an invasion of sorts – everything that represented the “Old Ways” or the “NM Style” was admonished. Beginning in the early 20th century, New Mexican architecture began to transform again. By the time of her acceptance into statehood in 1912, the Territorial period was literally… and figuratively… complete. Three trends emerged: One group of settlers went for the “all new,” merging new forms with old or replacing old forms entirely… another group of artists arrived from the Western art world and began building entirely new fusion homes of their own, like the impeccable Fechin House and studio by Nicolai Fechin on Paseo del Pueblo Norte in Taos… while yet another group started looking backwards to the “old way.”

Architectural firms like Greene and Greene in California were changing the way people looked at building, and inventing a wholly American style of architecture, much of which was a response to the what was seen as "overly decorative" architecture of the Victorian age, and blended with an Indian (as in the continent between the Orient and Europe) concept of a low structure with a veranda, called a Bungalow. The California and Bungalow styles - with their simple one-story plans, large porches, squared wooden beams, horizontal emphasis, and stone detailing - were very vogue in the West. When people came from California, they brought these ideas with them.

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