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Old Posted Apr 8, 2014, 6:06 PM
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PHX31 PHX31 is offline
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Aesthetics of Historic Districts/Homes (pics included)

So it's been pretty slow in here lately...and I'm not sure if this thread is going to be completely useless, or semi-interesting that will garner further discussion. But I'm wondering about and interested in the various aesthetics and minutiae of historic neighborhoods and houses. It could be anything from how wide the landscaping strips are between the pavement and sidewalk. How far setback the houses are. Or really anything. It could be something big and grand or something that is pretty trivial you've noticed that happened to catch your eye.

I've spent a lot of time driving probably every single street of all of Phoenix's historic districts, and on top of that, I've driven the Google mobile around a bunch of other City's historic districts looking at and admiring the houses. There are many similarities and some differences that can be interesting.

One thing I noticed that is very commonplace in other cities, but very few and far between in Phoenix is houses that have steps leading up the walkway to the yard from the main sidewalk. In Phoenix, the central city is so flat that there are very few houses that are raised up at all from the sidewalk (sure, most every house has 3-5 steps leading from the yard to the front porch/door, but I'm talking about steps from the sidewalk to the yard). There are a bunch of areas in Phoenix where this is more common, but those are mostly in the suburbs in the more hilly areas.

There may be a few I'm missing, but I think these are nearly all of the historic houses in Phoenix that have any significant "step up" from the sidewalk. There are a fair amount that have a single step that I didn't include, but it seems if there is any rise at all from the sidewalk (usually, there is none), the walkways were constructed with small sloped ramps (perhaps Phoenix was just ahead of the ADA times ). I'm pretty sure one big reason that historic neighborhoods in other cities had properties that are elevated from the street was that when they were initially built, the streets were purposely cut down and the yards filled with the excess dirt to raise them up for flooding/drainage purposes (if not simply because of a more hilly terrain). Phoenix surely doesn't get as much rain (or any snow) as other cities.

Anyway, on to the (very few) pics from Phoenix.

















If you've noticed this before and know of any that I'm missing, let me know. I wish my house was raised up from the street. It kind of gives a more stately and secure feel to be elevated.

Here are some examples from other cities (in which it is far more common):

Tucson:




Albuquerque:


Prescott:




Los Angeles:




San Diego:


Denver:


I'm sure this is a dead-end thread, and if I were to put it in the general city discussions forum, it would eventually degrade into a pissing match somehow. But if you have anything to add ...
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 9, 2014, 6:32 AM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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Appreciate the thread and photos. It's easy to always just assume things are different because of the weather, but that certainly isn't always the case.

While the addition of levels/stairs between the road and front door had to have been at least partially to try and prevent flooding, the system does a lousy job of accomplishing that. My house is risen 2-3 flights from the road, and still gets several inches of water in the basement during major storms.

I'm more familiar with the details of homes back east, and have really only been inside historic homes in Phoenix that have been converted to commercial use, so I hope at least some of these make sense:

1) Side doors: I've probably walked up those 2-3 flights of stairs less than 10 times in the last 25 years; my home, and most others of the time and in my area have side doors that are more commonly used for entering the house.
2) Mudroom/Foyer: Those side doors are typically accompanied by a mudroom, which would seem like it would be a nice feature in the desert given all the dust, etc. Our front doors also enter into foyers that are completely separated from the main house (the living room would likely be the first main room), some/most of the time by a second door even. The exception would be for center hall colonials, but even those will have a small foyer area separated by a change in grade, flooring materials, etc.
3) Icebox: I *think* I remember seeing someone post pictures of a hidden icebox, but I am not sure how common they were here. Ours has a window at the top where the milk would be placed, and then a cabinet below where I guess the ice was stored when it was a working icebox?
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Old Posted Apr 9, 2014, 4:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jjs5056 View Post
Appreciate the thread and photos. It's easy to always just assume things are different because of the weather, but that certainly isn't always the case.

While the addition of levels/stairs between the road and front door had to have been at least partially to try and prevent flooding, the system does a lousy job of accomplishing that. My house is risen 2-3 flights from the road, and still gets several inches of water in the basement during major storms.

I'm more familiar with the details of homes back east, and have really only been inside historic homes in Phoenix that have been converted to commercial use, so I hope at least some of these make sense:

1) Side doors: I've probably walked up those 2-3 flights of stairs less than 10 times in the last 25 years; my home, and most others of the time and in my area have side doors that are more commonly used for entering the house.
2) Mudroom/Foyer: Those side doors are typically accompanied by a mudroom, which would seem like it would be a nice feature in the desert given all the dust, etc. Our front doors also enter into foyers that are completely separated from the main house (the living room would likely be the first main room), some/most of the time by a second door even. The exception would be for center hall colonials, but even those will have a small foyer area separated by a change in grade, flooring materials, etc.
3) Icebox: I *think* I remember seeing someone post pictures of a hidden icebox, but I am not sure how common they were here. Ours has a window at the top where the milk would be placed, and then a cabinet below where I guess the ice was stored when it was a working icebox?
I've never seen an icebox door. Do you mean the icebox can be accessed from the inside and the outside of the house (ie delivered directly into the house) like a milk slot? That's pretty cool, I'd love to see a pic of that. The milk slots are pretty common here in Phoenix, typically on houses from the 1930s and 1940s, I think. My friend's house has one. The house I lived in while at ASU had one. And forumer pbenjamin showed us his during his house renovation. They are really neat, IMO. Bygone era relic for sure.
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Old Posted May 6, 2014, 5:34 AM
Jjs5056 Jjs5056 is offline
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Originally Posted by PHX31 View Post
I've never seen an icebox door. Do you mean the icebox can be accessed from the inside and the outside of the house (ie delivered directly into the house) like a milk slot? That's pretty cool, I'd love to see a pic of that. The milk slots are pretty common here in Phoenix, typically on houses from the 1930s and 1940s, I think. My friend's house has one. The house I lived in while at ASU had one. And forumer pbenjamin showed us his during his house renovation. They are really neat, IMO. Bygone era relic for sure.
I'll take a picture next time I see my dad; I doubt it looks anywhere near original, and was used for regular storage. But, yes, there was a window at the top that opened into a square cabinet. On the inside, this cabinet can be opened by glass doors, and below that are too doors that open to a tiny closet, probably half the height of s pantry and regular cabinet depth.
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Old Posted May 25, 2014, 10:37 PM
zigzag zigzag is offline
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Enjoyed the pics...thanks for sharing.
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Old Posted Nov 22, 2015, 6:06 AM
alexico alexico is offline
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Great thread - keep em coming
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