Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Elegant Old Arches

Well, perhaps that's over-promise. But do take a walk around the central part of Prescott; you'll see some excellent arched doorways and windows. Let's start with the Lincoln School. The Park Avenue entrance to the older of the two buildings retains the original brickwork without any change.

But things do happen. For example, a covered walkway between the school's two buildings. And look at those partially bricked up windows. Ug-ly. How come?

When an auditorium/multi- purpose building was added in the 90s, an echo of the signature arched doorway was tacked on. Good idea or bad? Don't know quite how I feel about it.

However, there's a lot of modern stuff that is a caricature of the past. Among my particular architectural peeves are the tall but squinchy, narrow arched Grand Entrances to what are essentially updated tract houses.

But on to the square. A nice entrance at the Grill...

...and the old Bashford building on Cortez. Splendid polished brass, too.

Here's my most favorite of all, at the SE corner of Gurley and Cortez. A double-whammy of an arch.

Plenty of light is possible from those tall, arched windows at the old Territorial Courthouse building if they aren't blocked off.

Even arches for basement windows, if the building is old enough...

More generous windows at the former nunnery now a part of the Prescott College collection of buildings.

Ever wondered why the main entrance to the St. Michael's Hotel was on the big Gurley Street slant? I have. Nevertheless, the building is a handsome historic structure.

Later Note: I've had a number of visitors from overseas in the past couple of days. No doubt they were scratching their heads about the comparatively modern buildings that I was treating with such reverence for a recent past. It's time I explain the great American hang-up on local history, especially in the Southwest. Until Alaska and Hawaii, Arizona was the last state accepted into the union. Part of the reason: it was just beginning to move beyond its Western frontier reality. And we Americans -- at least many of us -- still adore the santized, romanticized version of frontier America brought to us by Hollywood. Nor are we the only ones. Prescott (and other parts of the state) are visited regularly by people from Europe and Asia who want to experience the Old West. Our city fathers are only too happy to serve up a little touch of "history" in recognition of the importance of tourism in our local economy.

But over here we also have a real problem: the new threatens to swamp our comparatively small number of relics of the recent past. Hence a rather desperate clutching of the historic.

4 comments:

Hermano said...

When I first noted the caption of today's offering, sans photos, I thought that the subject might be snaps of little older than you and I ladies's button-up footwear.
Cheers,

Hermano

Lucy said...

Great walking tour. It's very compelling to pick up a theme and follow it isn't it, you start seeing things you might not have before. Photography is joyous.

Avus said...

Just popped by to thank you for visiting my blog (and wondered how you found me - but then I see that we have a mutual friend in "Lucy").
Yes, the USA may only have a fairly recent "settler" past, but it is still just as fascinating and important. (Having a daughter in Australia, I find their social history just as fascinating when I visit - even though it is comparatively recent).
Those who lived then, made stuff then, worked hard and played then had the same feelings and emotions as people from much older times (and indeed the same as we feel now). The centuries move on but individuals' feelings are the same. (Something I tried to bring out in my "At the Orchard Pavilion" posting.)
Nice to meet you.

Granny J said...

Bro -- I would never have thought of shoes!

Mr. Avus -- welcome to Arizona! Actually, it hasn't been so long that the modern machine has displaced the artisan, even in this country. We have, in our town, a number of collectors of early machinery, especially old steam-operated equipment. Old mining equipment can still be found out in the mountains hereabouts.

 
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