Monday, February 12, 2007

False Fronts

Thanks to Hollywood, the crude wooden building with a false front is cliche for Old West. In fact, the picture above is from Corriganville, which served both for shoot 'em up settings for Republic Pictures' movies and as a minor tourist attraction in 1950s LA. Below, a building that still stands in Parks, Utah, tho it's now an upscale "saloon" for the apres ski set. Natch.

I found a concise history at a model railroad accessory site: "false fronts were typical of the early western structures. Their earliest application was to the front of large tents, and then to structures that had four walls and a canvas roof. In almost every case, a false front wall was extended as a faƧade, [alluding] to the size, finish, and importance of the building. They contained character, expression, and the spirit of the builders. Most false fronts also served as signboards and became a place to decorate with fancy work of one kind or another. Not too may folks were fooled by the false fronts, but almost all were enjoyed."

Yet another structure built to remember the past -- in this case down at the Pioneer living museum attraction off I-17 on the way down into Phoenix. Are you wondering just why I got caught up in this false front nostalgia. There is a local reason:

You see, there is this cottage over in the Prescott College block; in fact, judging from the exterior colors, I would presume that it now belongs to the school. It was a modest home in its time -- but it had pretensions. Take a close look at the peaked "roof". Move in closer, below -- it's a scene fit for the Wizard of Oz. Do you see the brace that's holding up the false front?

Curious, too -- the cottage seeks a peaked roof image, while the Utah store pictured above seeks to hide its sensible (for the high mountains) peaked roof. There's no satisfying some folks!

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