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Sunday, April 3, 2011

OLD VERNACULAR ONE-CAR GARAGE



Yesterday, I traveled the main road of route 25, enjoying a beautiful cool day in and around Richmond, Kentucky. As I rode along  in my small truck I came upon this unusual structure that sat down the hill from a lovely old bungalow. The structure almost looked like a country root cellar yet it had a few defining details that spelled out garage.

First was the height and width of the former door opening which was similar to the garages of the Ford roadster era. The former door opening would have been the whole of the now brown board closure. Secondly, there was a cement drive apron leading to the structure from the street. It probably had a dirt apron originally.

The garage was probably built about the same time as the house was -- the early 1900s. It might have been built for an early Ford roadster or similar type car.   Over time, garages like these  became unusable as manufacturers built cars longer in length. No longer could the newer cars fit lengthwise. Many garages  of the old short-length types were converted into other uses.

OLD VERNACULAR ONE-CAR GARAGE 


A closer look at this former garage tells us that its function had changed. No longer a garage, its use became one that needed light (two windows) and only a regular standard door. Many uses could have been part of this evolved building. The hinges are 1930s --40s. I imagine its original use as a garage was only used for a couple decades. 


I thought the garage was unique in that it was partially underground and that it sat so close to the street rather than close to the house. 


Perhaps there is another story to this structure? I'm sure there is a personal story to be told with this unusual building. 

25 comments:

  1. You raise so many interesting points. We still have a few of those old garages in our metro area, built before the counties and cities ran together in a common lot. I have wondered about the date of their origin, thanks for enlightening me. Regarding size, the new minicoopers many of our locals are driving would fit nicely in your garage. There are no Hummers around here. Dianne Schmidley

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  2. Interesting relationship of house and garage -- it looks like the owner would have to walk around the corner [unseen in photo] to the left in order to enter the house. I'd guess if there had ever been a walk going up from beside the garage to the house it would still be there. That suggests a different relationship to their automobile than we have today where people most often go from house directly into the garage.

    The house in your header is very handsome one!

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  3. I'm thinking of a couple right now, small, unique and with stories, I bet.

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  4. That's a pretty neat garage; never seen one like it before. Here in Florida we don't have any hillsides. I guess they must use in for storage now.

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  5. With the popularity of the Mini, maybe that relic will some day be a garage again.

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  6. Dianne -- And I have been enlightened by your comment. I did not know what a minicooper was. I looked it up online and now I know. I am rather illiterate when it comes to car makes even though my paternal folks lived and loved the car industry. Thanks for the insightful comment -- barbara

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  7. June -- I thought the same as you -- what a long walk to the house. I do believe that a different relationship existed between car and garage and owner. I do recall a garage built in the twenties that was built on a farm. The owner treated the garage the same as an outbuilding and had to walk a distance from his house to reach it. Its an interesting observation on your part about the changing relationship of walking distance. So true that folks like to walk out the door into their garage. I've read that this action creates less social interaction in neighborhoods.-- barbara

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  8. Chandler Arts -- I really feel out of the loop on the mini. I was not aware of the mini make. Now I am -- hope they are good on gas. Yes, I guess they would fit nicely in a 20s garage. I once had a 20s garage where the former owners popped out the back to accommodate later car models. -- barbara

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  9. Birdman -- I am waiting to see an old garage from your area. great if you could get the story to go with it. Thanks for stopping by -- barbara

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  10. Mama-Bug -- Many of these old type garages are freestanding on level land. This particular one is rather novel being that it is in a hill.
    Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  11. We have a few in similar style and placement around our hilly areas and, yes, often the smaller garages (even ones tucked down the end of driveways) have been converted into the Bloke's Shed.

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  12. Very interesting garage. I do not believe it belongs with the house in the photo. The bushes coming down the hill on the left side of the garage makes me think they mark the boundary on that side. The wall coming down the hill on the other side of the house marking that boundary. The shotgun style bungalow centered on the property. Very interesting find. I too like June enjoy the appearance of the house in the header. Delightful to look at. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. My great-grandparents lived in a little white bungalow on a terrace just like this, with a long set of concrete steps leading up to their front porch. Love the garage. It's similar to a root cellar!

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  14. It looks so tiny, width wise. I love the colors in your header photo.

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  15. Grampy --

    Thanks for the interesting comments.

    Lets look at the photos again. Yes there are two different types of sidewalk walls which perhaps delineated two different properties -- the garage sitting on the property line. However, to the left of the photos is a stretch of vacant land. Perhaps the wall on the left was a leftover from an earlier home (now apparently razed) which was my interpretation. The sidewalk wall on the right of the photo is later than the left.

    Now to the bungalow. Perhaps it is not apparent in the photo but the home is not a shotgun. It is a bungalow reminiscent of the type sold in Sears Roebuck catalogs. This type of house would have a garage similar to the one in the photo -- be it free standing or built into a hill. An earlier type home would not have had a garage. Here is a link to early bungalow garages if you want to see
    some decorative as well as plain ones:

    http://1912bungalow.com/2004/03/historic-garage-examples/

    It is difficult to portray a landscape through photos as they are limiting. I am glad you are observing the cues within the photo -- it makes me take another look at how I could have taken the photos from other angles. Thanks -- barbara

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  16. Farmchick -- Yes it is tiny compared to freestanding garages being built today. Thanks for the nice comment about the colors in my header. I like funky color combinations in small houses. Thanks -- barbara

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  17. Tess -- i just love old small houses. they spell coziness and warmth to me. I appreciate you stopping by with your very nice comments -- barbara

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  18. Jayne -- I imagine you do have a few old hillside garages if you have hills. Of course they would be way too small for today's cars. I have seen where the old garage is kept in use as a storage place and a modern garage built in front of it. Thanks for the comments -- barbara

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  19. It might work nicely for a Smart Fortwo car. I would like to imagine a secret tunnel from the house to the garage into being. Something from Prohibition days maybe : )

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  20. That "garage" reminds my morbid mind of a cemetary mausoleum but not with wooden doors.:)

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  21. Sheri -- Like the idea of a secret tunnel between the house and the garage -- rather a James Bond feeling. -- barbara

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  22. Very interesting post!
    Our homestead has a Model T era garage that was extended about a foot when cars grew in length. Garages in the early days had a tendency to catch fire because of home refueling. This is why they were sited at a distance from the house. Once it was safer to house a motorcar they could be placed closer.
    Ours has a trapdoor on the garage floor that leads to the original chicken coop/animal pen housed underneath.

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  23. Scott -- What an interesting fact as to why some home owners built their garages at a distance. I did not know that garages caught fire due to refueling. I lived in a 1920ish home at one time that had the back bumped out a couple feet to accommodate the newer lengths of cars. The funny part was they only bumped out the lower half of the back -- just so the hood could clear the new couple feet.

    You must be on a hill in order to have a coop under the garage floor. Was that the only way in to the coop? Seems like if you weren't using it now it would make a great storm bunker.

    Thanks for the info and nice comment -- barbara

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  24. The garage is built into the hillside, like a bank barn. The only comfortable way for a human to get in the coop was down stairs through the trapdoor; the animals came out the back into the yard by way of a ramp through a three foot door. The garage also had its own rainwater cistern, with the tank and spigots below for watering the animals. I never thought about it before, but the coop is very bunker-like.

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