Category Archives: Architecture

Halls of History—The woman belongs in the home….

Halls of History

When I was young and living with my wise old grandmother in Kingsville, Texas, I looked forward to the days when the Fall and Spring catalogs arrived from Sears. We also received the Montgomery Ward catalogs, but there was nothing like the catalogs from Sears. Dreamland….

Of course, catalog offerings changed over the years, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I discovered kit houses, a common name for the Sears catalog homes sold as Sears Modern Homes.

Sears reported that more than 70,000 kit homes were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940. More than 370 different home designs in various architectural styles and sizes were offered.

Although sold mostly along the East Coast and in Midwestern states, they have been found in Canada, as far south as Florida, and as far west as Alaska and California. Which takes us to Ocean Beach, a neighborhood of San Diego. Recently I discovered that there might be a Sears kit house at 4921 Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach. Looks like this:

4921 Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

4921 Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Sears Modern Homes offered the latest and greatest technology available to home buyers in the early 20th Century, including electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heating. Eventually, asphalt shingles and drywall (instead of the messy lathe and plaster) were offered. Kits were usually shipped by railroad and included most of the materials needed to build the house. Perhaps this is where the great Christmas adage—Some assembly required.—came from….

A few years after Sears quit selling kit homes, all sales records were destroyed in a corporate house cleaning. Sad. Since many of these kit homes were not documented when they were built, finding them today usually requires detailed research for correct identification, especially since there were competitors: Aladdin (which offered the first mail order kit homes in 1906), Bennett, Gordon-Van Tine, Harris Brothers, Lewis, Pacific Ready Cut Homes, Sterling, and Wardway Homes.

Sears issued its first specialty catalog for houses in 1908, Book of Modern Homes and Building Plans. It featured 44 house styles costing $360 to $2,890.

Sales grew, and Sears expanded production, shipping, and sales offices to sites throughout the United States. In order to meet demand and lower costs, Sears purchased lumber mills in Cairo, Illinois, and Port Newark, New Jersey, as well as the Norwood Sash and Door Company in Norwood, Ohio.

Sears first offered precut and fitted lumber, pioneered by Aladdin, in 1916. Prior to 1916, the Sears-supplied lumber had to be cut on site to appropriate lengths. The pre-1916 houses are considered “catalog houses” but are not not considered to be kit houses. A Sears Modern Home kit could have 25 tons of materials and over 30,000 parts. Yep. Some assembly required….

Sears started offering financing in 1912, with early loans for 5-15 years at 5-6 percent interest. Sales peaked in 1929, being hit hard by the Great Depression, which led to payment defaults and strain on the catalog house program. Sears even stopped selling homes for a short time in 1934 and, after liquidating $11 million in defaulted debt, quit financing altogether by 1934.

4921 Voltaire Street, Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

The home at 4921 Voltaire Street was built by William Feigley, recently arrived from Kansas. The city has dubbed it the William and Ona Feigley Spec House #1. Sadly, the life of the Feigley House appears to be coming to an end. It has been vacant for years after having been gutted in the 1980s to convert it to a doctor’s office. The doctor left in 1989, and records of its use since then are spotty. There have been lots of complaints about squatters and trash, though.

The new owners of the property want to tear down the Feigley House and build a two-story building with commercial space on the ground floor and two apartments on the upper floor, and a rooftop deck so they can see the ocean. The Ocean Beach Planning Board gave near-unanimous approval after the original design was altered to present a more Craftsman look. It appears that a portion of the front entrance might be retained and incorporated into the new building. However….

In October 2016, the Historic Resources Board recommended designating the Feigley House as a historic resource, which would pretty much prevent its destruction. According to the Board’s report, the Feigley House has maintained integrity in terms of design, materials, and feeling. Assistant Planner Suzanne Seguer, one of the report’s authors, said, “Nearly a century after its construction, the prized characteristics of its Craftsman-style architecture continue to shine through. Specifically, the resource exhibits a gable roof with wide eave overhang, wood cladding, decorative beams, a partial width porch with tapered square columns, wood-frame sash windows, and decorative attic vents,.”

Interesting, the owner’s representative charged that its kit house origin didn’t enhance but actually weakened historical value. The “Historic Resource Research Report,” prepared by the architectural firm Brian F. Smith and Associates for the owners, asserted the Feigley House bears a telling resemblance to a “Crescent” kit home, one of the 120 models described in the Sears “HonorBilt Modern Homes” 1921 catalog. Thus, the home is “not architecturally significant,” according to Scott Moomjian, an attorney who has represented owners with historic properties, told the board. He continued, saying that even if the Feigley House had not been damaged by insect infestation, neglect, and weathering, it would still be nothing but a “common, undistinguished, and ordinary Craftsman home” that falls far short of being “considered an important architectural specimen.”

Neighbors seem to agree with Moomjian, which isn’t really surprising considering the condition of the house. Which would you rather live next door to, a brand new building or a decrepit old buildng?

The Feigley House’s status as a Sears home is not 100% certain, though, which possibly caused only three Board members to vote for historic designation, short of the required six votes. Personally I find kit homes to be intriguing, interesting, and important.

The Crescent, on page 29 of the 1921 catalog (between the Ardara and Martha Washington) and costing as little as $1,704, was described as being for “folks who like a touch of individuality with good taste.” The cost included “all the millwork, kitchen cupboard, flooring, shingles, siding, finishing lumber, building paper, eaves trough, downspout, roofing, sash weights, hardware, porch screens, painting material, lumber and lath.” Everything except “cement, brick and plaster.”

I found it interesting that the Sears Modern Homes plans were “passed upon by women experts.” “Architects and women advisors plan economy of space…. We plan the arrangement of the kitchen to save steps for the housewife.”

Ah, yes, the woman belongs in the home….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Advertisements

Out & About—Christian Light MBC in Los Angeles

Out & About The World

Whenever I go traveling, I devise a travel plan to get me to my destination by a specific route. Sometimes, though, I find something interesting and unexpected along my route. Such was the case earlier this year when I set out for Fillmore, California, to go to the Fillmore & Western Railway’s Railroad Days Festival. It was the best railroading event I’ve ever been to. Highly recommended.

About halfway there, though, making my way along I-10 in stop-and-go traffic, I saw an interesting church off to the side. The area of town—South Central Los Angeles—generally is not considered inviting to white people like me, and the church had bars and plywood on the windows, but you know me. It’s all about history and photographs, and as my wise old grandmother told me in 1967 when my best friend drowned in the community swimming pool: “When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.”

Here’s the church:

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

The church and its grounds were not accessible due to fences and gates, but I did find the cornerstone near the front entrance:

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

I know a J.S. Pope but he’s not a Reverend, and if he was head of that congregation in 1944, I’m pretty sure that he would no longer be living in 2017.

I’m familiar with the world’s religions but I had no idea what religion the Christian Light M.B.C. was, so off to Google. While I did not find the history of Christian Light M.B.C., I did find out that M.B.C. stands for Missionary Baptist Church. I’m familiar with the Southern Baptists, having grown up in Texas where the Southern Baptists are many in number, but I had no idea what a Missionary Baptist Church was, although I had my suspicions.

A Google search led me to gotquestions.org where I found this:

The Baptist movement has become significantly fragmented over the years, and there are various types of churches that use the label “Missionary Baptist” as part of their name. This article deals with the Missionary Baptist movement within the African-American community; it does not address other groups that may happen to use the name “Missionary Baptist.”

Most Baptist churches, including Missionary Baptists, believe and follow the essential tenets of Christianity. They hold to the inspiration and authority of the Bible, the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. Also, Missionary Baptists, like other Baptists, teach the autonomy of the local church and practice believer’s baptism by immersion. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances of the church. Most Missionary Baptist churches view Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, in which no work or secular activities should be done. Many Missionary Baptist churches also call their pastor’s wife the “first lady” of the church.

Two of the largest groups of Missionary Baptists are the National Baptist Convention USA, with about 8 million members; and the National Baptist Convention of America, with a membership of about 5 million. Other African-American Baptist groups using the name “Missionary Baptist” include the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the National Missionary Baptist Convention.

The Missionary Baptist movement began in 1880, soon after the Civil War. At that time, there were many freed slaves in Baptist churches, and they felt the need to come together in worship and to fulfill the Great Commission. The former slaves formed the Foreign Mission Baptist Convention of the United States in 1880, the American National Baptist Convention in 1886, and the Baptist National Educational Convention in 1893. These three organizations united to form the National Baptist Convention in 1895. About 24 years later, a disagreement within the convention led to a split, and the National Baptist Convention of America separated from the National Baptist Convention USA.

Generally speaking, Missionary Baptist churches place an emphasis on Christian evangelism, promoting missions efforts at home and abroad; encourage Christian education; seek social justice and community involvement; and publish and distribute Sunday school material and other Christian literature. Missionary Baptists embrace their history and maintain a strong connection to the needs in their surrounding communities. As conventions (not denominations), Missionary Baptist groups do not have administrative or doctrinal control over their member churches; such matters are left up to each local church.

One phrase in all that text confirmed my initial thoughts on what a Missionary Baptist Church was: promoting missions efforts at home and abroad.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Opinion—If I have to use it….

Opinion

Many decades ago in Tomball, Texas, I helped my uncle build a beautiful brick mailbox to match his brick house. A month later he called to tell me that the homeowners’ association told him that he would have to remove it and put a stick mailbox in its place to match all the other stick mailboxes in his rural subdivision. He was furious. I had no monkey in the circus but his experience did convince me that I would never live in a community that had an HOA.

I have plenty of HOA horror stories from my years in real estate….

Along with homeowners’ associations telling you what you can and cannot do to a property you own, sometimes the city gets involved, too, most of the time concerning zoning ordinances. No one wants to buy a beautiful home only to have a brothel built next door….

One of the different ways that the city can get involved is with historic properties. Here in San Diego County, if you buy a historic property and agree to keep it historic, you get a pretty good tax break. With real estate prices being so astronomical, a tax break on property taxes can be significant.

Recently, over in Coronado, the City of Coronado got upset at the owner of a historic property because she had replaced the old windows with modern dual-pane windows. The house currently looks like this:

Historic home in Coronado CA

Notice the windows. That white bar at the bottom of each window is the old, wooden window apron, usually indicating that the home had wooden windows at one point.

Aluminum window on an old historic home in Coronado CA

Now they are aluminum windows. The city is upset because the aluminum windows just don’t match the architecture of the home. Perhaps if she had installed white aluminum windows….

Actually, one can get aluminum windows that look like wood, but they are custom windows, so they are quite a bit more expensive than standard aluminum windows. The City has given her options but she’s still not happy because all of the options require her to remove these windows, which already have been installed and paid for….

Although the property tax breaks can be significant, I’m pretty much a modern guy when it comes to using things, so you’ll never find me buying something historic. If I have to use it rather than just admiring it, I own the latest and the greatest….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

A post-modern triumph or a regrettable hodgepodge?

Opinion

My husband earns money each day by working at Warwick’s at the San Diego International Airport. Warwick’s is a bookstore. Occasionally he brings home free books for me to read. Recently he brought home a pre-published proof of the new Dean Koontz book, “The Silent Corner.”

Koontz and his wife live in “Southern California.” In other words, he doesn’t want us to know exactly where, but I suspect it might be closer to San Diego than Los Angeles since the book takes place in San Diego County—Alpine, San Diego, and La Jolla, so far (I’m on page 74).

On page 33, Koontz calls our new San Diego Central Library (opened in September 2013) “a post-modern triumph or a regrettable hodgepodge.” That’s the first time I have ever heard of the new library being called anything except “beautiful” and synonyms for “beautiful.” Thus, I have to presume that Koontz considers it a regrettable hodgepodge.

Here are some pictures of the regrettable hodgepodge:

San Diego Central Library stamp

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on February 2, 2013

Price Reading Room at the San Diego Central Library

Lobby of the new San Diego Central Library

The Central Library building is 9 floors, but the sixth and seventh floors are accessible only to students, teachers, and others affiliated with E3 Civic High School, which according to sources is the only high school in the nation (probably the world) housed within a library. Imagine going to high school in a magnificent library. I want to live my life again….

The library cost $184.9 million, comprises 366,673 square feet, houses 2.6 million items, has a circulation of 7.2 million, and 6.6 million visitors each year. There is free WiFi at the Central Library and all 35 branch libraries; in fact, the San Diego Public Library was one of the first in the nation to provide free WiFi at all locations. It also houses the second largest collection of baseball memorabilia in the United States. The dome on top is claimed to be the fourth largest in America and the sixth largest in the world.

Here’s a picture of the old library which served from 1954 to 2013:

Old San Diego Central Library on August 13, 2012

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—This church, that church, and God’s Garage

Out & About San Diego

Back in 1966 or so my great grandfather died. He was buried in the Catholic Church in San Antonio in which he had been born, baptized, first communionized, married, and attended for 50 years. All was well.

Three years later, my great grandmother died. The family thought that she would be buried in the same church as her husband.

Nope.

During those ensuing three years, the Catholic Church had redrawn its dioceses, and it turned out that my great grandmother now lived in a different diocese. Interestingly, the new church for the new diocese had been built right across the street. So even though my great grandmother probably knew that she had been placed in a new diocese, she kept attending the same church she had been going to for 50+ years. All was not well.

I think that’s when I realized that manmade religions really weren’t for me.

Back in 1994 I was working in Detroit and decided one day to walk Grand River Avenue from Washington Boulevard to West Eight Mile Road, which was close to the office. I had been told that it was called Eight Mile Road because it was eight miles from downtown. That was an alternative fact spouted well before alternative facts became popular. On almost every intersection, four corners, were four churches. Usually they were different denominations but occasionally they were the same—two Catholic churches, or two Presbyterian churches. I understood because of what had happened to my great grandmother 25+ years earlier.

While I will always question whether or not an all-powerful, all-knowing god requires these monstrous cathedrals be built to worship him (or her), I do appreciate their architecture. When I was in Pacific Beach a while back looking for the library, I came across two huge churches right next to each other: St. Brigid Parish Catholic Church and Christ Lutheran Church.

St. Brigid Parish Catholic ChurchSt. Brigid Parish Catholic Church

St. Brigid Parish Catholic Church, Pacific Beach, San Diego, California

St. Brigid Parish Catholic Church, Pacific Beach, San Diego, California

Even though I grew up in the Catholic Church, did the CYO thing, went to Catholic School and Sunday School, I have never heard of St. Brigid. Wikipedia to the rescue!

Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland (c. 451 – 525) is one of Ireland’s patron saints. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and foundress of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland. Her feast day is February 1, which was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring.

The saint shares her name with an important Celtic goddess, and there are many legends and folk customs associated with her. Some scholars suggest that the saint is merely a Christianization of the goddess. Others suggest that she was a real person who took on the goddess’s attributes. Medieval Art Historian Pamela Berger argues that Christian “monks took the ancient figure of the mother goddess and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart.” Professor Dáithí Ó hÓgáin and others suggest that the saint had been chief druidess at the temple of the goddess Brigid, and was responsible for converting it into a Christian monastery. After her death, the name and characteristics of the goddess became attached to the saint.

Well, there ya go. Once again I learned absolutely nothing that could make my life better. So let’s move on to Christ Lutheran Church, founded in 1954 as Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pacific Beach, San Diego

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pacific Beach, San Diego

I’m familiar with Lutherans and Christ but I wondered why Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church seems to have dropped the Evangelical from its name. So I went to Wikipedia again to see just who these Evangelicals are and why they had been banished from their own church.

Evangelicalism, Evangelical Christianity, or Evangelical Protestantism is a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or the “born again” experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.

Its origins are usually traced back to English Methodism, the Moravian Church (in particular theology of its bishop Nicolaus Zinzendorf and his community at Herrnhut), and German Lutheran Pietism. While all these phenomena contributed greatly, John Wesley and other early Methodists were at the root of sparking this new movement during the First Great Awakening. Today, Evangelicals are found across many Protestant branches, as well as in various denominations not subsumed to a specific branch. The movement gained great momentum during the 18th and 19th centuries with the Great Awakenings in the United Kingdom and North America.

The Americas, Africa, and Asia are home to the majority of Evangelicals. United States has the largest concentration of Evangelicals in the world; its community forms a quarter of the population, is politically important and based mostly in the Bible Belt. In the United Kingdom, Evangelicals are mostly represented in the Methodist Church, Baptist communities and among low church Anglicans.

Alas, I’m not having much success on this last Sunday in February for again I have learned absolutely nothing that could make my life better.

My wise old grandmother taught me to add laughter to each day, so I shall end with some laughter. Just north of these two churches was God’s Garage:

God's Garage, Pacific Beach, San Diego, California

Now that’s funny.

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—They had cats!

Out & About San Diego

I delivered packages for Amazon Prime Now from October 2015 to August 2016. During that time, most of the orders to be delivered were just a few of sacks of groceries. One day, though, I only had one order, but the complete order of over twenty sacks filled the trunk and the interior of my car to capacity. Everything was going to what I now know is a Buddhist temple. Looked like this:

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

The temple actually was split in two with the other half being located a block away:

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

I know absolutely nothing at all about Buddhism so I went to Wikipedia for help.

Buddhism is a religion and dharma that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to the Buddha. Buddhism originated in India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, from where it spread through much of Asia, whereafter it declined in India during the middle ages. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (Pali: “The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (Sanskrit: “The Great Vehicle”). Buddhism is the world’s fourth-largest religion, with over 500 million followers or 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.

Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. Practices of Buddhism include taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, study of scriptures, observance of moral precepts, renunciation of craving and attachment, the practice of meditation (including calm and insight), the cultivation of wisdom, loving-kindness and compassion, the Mahayana practice of bodhicitta and the Vajrayana practices of generation stage and completion stage.

In Theravada the ultimate goal is the attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana, achieved by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path (also known as the Middle Way), thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth. Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

Hmmm. I fear that I still know absolutely nothing about Buddhism….

While I was roaming around, I got pictures of four cats making their homes on the property:

Buddhist Temple cat

Buddhist Temple cat

Buddhist Temple cat

Buddhist Temple cat

I don’t care who you are or what you believe, if you are a kind enough human to take care of the most vulnerable among us, including wildlife but especially cats and dogs, you’re alright with me.

Following are some other pictures of the Temple buildings and grounds:

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

Buddhist Temple in San Diego, California

I admit that when it comes to religious buildings, I find most of them interesting but gaudy. With the money that it took to build them, I wonder how many homeless could have been sheltered, how many sick could have been cured, how many hungry could have been fed.

Do the all-powerful, all-knowing gods of the world’s religions really care so little about people worshipping differently, or worshipping others? Are they really sitting there watching television and rooting for their favorite football or basketball superstar?

This touchdown is for you, Jesus

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—Mission Hills with a downtown view

Out & About San Diego

When I was delivering packages for Amazon Prime Now at this time last year, one of my goals was to find interesting places, nooks and crannies, that I probably wouldn’t find on my own. One such place I found was 1802 Puterbaugh Street in Mission Hills. It sits on a large lot on a high hill with a beautiful view of downtown San Diego.

1802 Puterbaugh Street, San Diego, California

View from 1802 Puterbaugh Street, San Diego, California

According to public records, the house was built in 1911 and has 2,088 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 1½ bathrooms. It also has a 2-car garage, something that may or may not be original to the property. Mission Hills in 1911 was an upscale, affluent neighborhood. It still is. Many of the people who lived in Mission Hills in 1911 could afford cars, and in today’s world their cars typically are top-of-the-line BMW’s, Mercedes-Benzes, and similar luxury cars.

Since it was dark when I made my delivery, I noted the address and went back a few weeks later during daylight to get some pictures. I thought the home might be a historical landmark but I haven’t found it on any lists so far.

The home last sold on September 7, 2010, for $650,000 to a man and woman with different last names. I mention that because on September 1, 2015, the man relinquished to the woman his interest in the property via a Quit Claim Deed. In other words, he simply gave her his share of the property, no questions asked. Sounds like a parting of the ways.

1802 Puterbaugh Street, San Diego, California

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat