Saturday, February 1, 2014

Have we been short changed?

                                         A guest post by that guy I married...Wade Broadhead.
I'm honored to have an opportunity, from that beautiful dame I married, to talk about one of my favorite obscure topics: Mid-Century storefront alterations. Now, I'm not an expert (um... yes, there are experts, and I know them!) It can be easy to get behind the beauty of Palm Springs Modernism, Arapahoe Acres in Denver, or your local "high style" bank, but these permutations in your Downtowns are tough to swallow for some.  These buildings are often "short changed" as 'change' is THE defining aspect of Modernism. Our automobile-centric new suburbs rolled out the streamlined Modern look, but we forget that through the 1950s, many Downtowns thrived and they too became:  "Modern".

1940s fur vintage dress Just Peachy, Darling
These are buildings that were built in 1904 or 1884 and by 1950 they were hopelessly 'outdated' with annoying details and architectural elements. Solution: storefront makeover. A cheap applique, some 'architectural makeup' could conceal all those hopeless interesting and articulated storefront elements into a modern masterpiece.  My favorite is this aluminium 'slip cover' on this turn of the century building. This building now tells two stories, one of the Progressive Era and one of the Streamlined Modern Era (1930s-40s).  
The second building has a secret jewel that I didn't notice for years. The multicolored recessed terrazzo entryway stamped 'Hughes' is a secret relic, like an architectural artifact speaking to an earlier era when the building wasn't used for excess medical supplies.  These buildings are difficult for preservationists. Which part is significant? What if someone wants to remove the 40s storefront to reveal the 1910  storefront? They are less problematic for non-preservationists, who often live with disparate juxtapositions, and generally enjoy such strangeness side-by-side. Your downtown can be both Historic and Modern, the more stories you can tell with your buildings the richer they are. 
Outfit details: 
1940s Heidi of New York Fur shoulder capelet coat- Robot Exchange
1940s Elinor Gay floral dress: Robot Exchange
white elbow length gloves: an estate
nude seamed stockings: Ebay
Teal spectator shoes: Miss L. Fire


  1. I know where the White building is in Pueblo. Is the Hughes building in that same area?

    1. The Hughes building is on Main St. near the intersection of 4th.

  2. I love the idea of these series of posts and I eagerly await for what else you have in store (hey no pun intended). Can I say how wonderful your coat is? I just love it. Have you gotten any comments from random strangers? I love when I wear a great vintage coat and you get kind words from random people. Also, loved that you showed us some matching vintage patterns. I've been pretty bad lately at buying them. I must stop, reflect, and actually start working on some haha. The illustrations just get me, they are like mini works of art too.

  3. Terrific post and point. On more than one occasion, I've heard two people from the same town or city (big city in some cases) each respectively say something along the lines of "Oh, my town has no old building left anymore!" or "Wow, there are so many old buildings still in my town, it's a joy to try and find them all!" Two people, one town and two very different takes on things, in no small part, I'm sure because - as you discuss here - many older buildings have been altered to look newer or to try and distract you from their age with gaudy or stark or just plain unattractive modern touches (big vinyl awning anyone?). Most places, big or small, still house at least a handful of historic/vintage buildings and homes, the secret is knowing what to look for, even when it's hiding under a 21st false front of sorts and it's fantastic that there are folks like yourself out there are keen to spread the good word about doing just that.

    ♥ Jessica


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