Monday, May 23, 2011

Before & After #4: 32 Henry Street

Here’s another look at a before and after construction project here in Southampton Village. I just love before and afters. Unfortunately I often show you examples at what I consider to be negative results…..I’ll have to post a nice result one of these days! They exist too after all.
So this is 32 Henry Street which used to be an adorable little yellow house on the southeast corner of Henry and Howell Streets. It was owned by a woman who grew up in a gorgeous historic house on Hill Street now named “The Mainstay” after its owner, Elizabeth Main.

So does this ‘before and after’ have a positive outcome or a negative one? I think it falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not a terribly ugly house, nor is it too big necessarily, as there are other houses on Henry Street that are equal in size if not a tad larger. But most of the houses on the street are the size of the former little yellow house, and as Henry Street is a tiny little street, I think the smaller size houses add to the street’s charm and character.

Speaking of character, I think that’s how the new house fails: it has very little character. To me, this house is generic. It has all the staples of contemporary Hamptons architecture: cedar shingles, white trim, divided light patterned windows, and a bluestone porch…….but does it have adorable quaintness or inspiring style…..or is it without soul?

What exactly is wrong with it? The placement of the windows: too far apart in some cases, and without rhyme or reason except perhaps for interior reasons rather than exterior relationships. The outside edge of the porch beam does not align properly with the outside edge of the porch columns, an aesthetic rule which ARB board member Brian Brady normally picks up on, but which many architects must not be attuned to or care about. There is an awkward vent under the shed eave on the front façade, and the proportions of the divided lights don’t coordinate. There is no expressed hierarchical difference between the front and side porches, the roof pitch is too shallow, and the overall house lacks detail or embellishment.

I do like the copper gutters and leaders though, and I love the narrowness of the muntin bars which I understand is something relatively new offered by Andersen windows.

Okay, enough. Next time I will try to show you a positive ‘before and after’ outcome. There may be one on Foster Crossing. Stay tuned.

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