A modernist Four Corners home

10016 Renfrew Road, Silver Spring. February 2016.

Last year a longtime South Four Corners resident took me on a brief walking tour of his Silver Spring, Md., neighborhood. I had reached out to him because I was researching the history of a temporary defense housing development that had been located there. One of his favorite houses in the neighborhood is a small one-story International Style home.

As we were standing outside the home, the woman who was renting it at the time arrived home. She told us the affectionate name she had for it: the art deco bunker.

I took a few pictures and filed the memory away for later use. Recently, the home’s owner posted a picture of the house in a Facebook group. I struck up a conversation with him that began online and ended in the basement of his home in rural Brinklow where he showed me family pictures taken in front of the house and he told me what he remembered growing up there. This post captures some of the home’s history and the atypical suburban environment where it was built. Continue reading

Historic Parkwood: An Early DeKalb County Ranch House

Parkwood was one of the last subdivisions developed in Historic Druid Hills. The first post in this series explored how Parkwood’s landscape developed between c. 1920 and 1960. The research presented in that introduction shows that there were three periods of historic development inside Parkwood: 1927-1939; 1940-1947; and 1948-1952.

Houses built in the earliest phase were executed in the period revival and bungalow styles popular at the time; homes built in the middle phase bridged the revival styles and included early ranch houses; and, the homes built in 1948 and afterwards were almost exclusively ranch houses. This post explores the history of one of the earliest ranch houses constructed in Parkwood during the middle phase, in 1946. Continue reading

John Skirving: From Bricklayer to Men of Progress

Sometimes it takes a real kick in the pants to get moving on turning a conference paper into something more. Last week I received an email from a history professor in the UK who is working on a project that parallels some research I presented in draft form at the 2007 Washington Historical Studies Conference. I allowed the National Trust for Historic Preservation to summarize the paper and post a link to a PDF of the entire paper at its President Lincoln’s Cottage Website. I have suggested a collaboration to my colleague across the pond rather than a race to get into print; we’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I’d like to recapture a little bit of my own intellectual property by reprinting a slightly revised version of the 2007 paper with illustrations. Continue reading