.

.

Monday, May 9, 2011

TENANT HOUSE PUT OUT TO PASTURE


Last Friday I made my rounds looking for interesting subjects to photograph and write about. I like to find the unusual -- like the photo above. 

This photo rather tickled my fancy as it was a worn house in a pasture with a herd of cattle -- all very friendly and interested in what I was doing. 

Actually, the worn house is a good example of a tenant house or what is sometimes called a double door house. It has a another name that is not used very often called the Cumberland type of house. For the sake of ease I will refer to it as the tenant house as that is what it is often called in these parts.

The tenant house does not mean it was only used by folks who were tenants. It was used as a common type of shelter by all types of folks in Kentucky -- about 10% of the population in the late nineteen to early  twentieth century. This period was a time when log houses were being built less often due to the growth of  sawmills providing  finished lumber for house construction. 

Tenant houses always have two doors but different configurations. The one above is only two doors yet symetrical with the facade. A popular configuraation that I have seen in many homes in my area is window-door-door-window, all symmetrical to the facade. 

Probably the house in the above photo stood alone as part of a homestead. Over time, the house probably became obsolete for the household. In time another larger home might have been built. The owner, more than likely, thought it would make a good storage hold for the pasture.  Result -- the pasture and house became fused together. This is my interpretation of how the above photo came about. 

Information Links




and Michael L. Moore

27 comments:

  1. Were the two doors in the front the only doors? Or was there usually a door on the other side? I am especially thinking of this as I just wrote a lengthy description of the house I was born in which I never heard all by any kind of name but it did have two doors in the front like this, letting onto a porch only about 4 feet wide. There was one side door and one back door, and windows. to left and right of the doors.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting info about the house. I love the way cows stand and stare. It makes you wonder what they are thinking about.

    ReplyDelete
  3. June -- How neat! To answer your questions ---. There were other doors. I am not sure about a side door as I have not come across one with a side door but I think it is very plausible. I have come across tenant houses with one or two doors in the back. Most of the tenant houses I have seen in this area have had a front porch -- narrow from front to back and running almost the entire length of the house. Your window configuration is exactly how most tenant houses appear. I do have a typical tenant house photo on one of my post. It has the window-door-door-window symmetrical configuration. Here is the address of which you will have to copy and paste to find it.
    http://folkwaysnotebook.blogspot.com/2011/02/ruins-are-not-empty.html
    If the above address does not work you can type in my search box -- Ruins Are Not Empty. This is a post I made that has a typical tenant house featured (although not in good shape).
    Maybe you can tell me something about the interior use -- rooms etc. Would love to know.
    Thanks -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  4. Janet -- how true about the cows -- as soon as I walked up to the fence they all got to their feet and stared at me. I think they thought I was bringing them something to eat? Thanks for the nice comments -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a common sight around my county. I have come to think of it as so beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great photo, with the cows observing the observer...but...why are there two doors??
    It's not a duplex, is it?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love how you give us a history, or at least typical history of the pictures you capture. These old structures are just fabulous.

    ReplyDelete
  8. this is interesting... all the cows seem to pose for you :)

    thak you for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Barbara, the house was exactly square and inside it had been divided into four square rooms all the same size. The right front was the living room, and left the main bedroom. The kitchen was behind the living room and the fourth room was a bedroom also but mainly used for storage. There was a lean-to sort of shed against the back on the left where firewood and coal for the stoves were kept along with wash tub, and gardening implements. Behind the house was an outhouse and then the barn, a milk house and a granary and eventually my dad built a small garage for the car. It was on a 40 acre farm. When I was ten the farm was sold and we moved a mile away to a house my father build on a 100 acre farm -- my first taste of "upward mobility."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sheri -- Your question of why there are two door is well taken. Historic Preservationists, for the most part, have not come up with a concrete answer. I have talked with an older man that has lived in one all his life. His thoughts were that guests could stay in the one side and use the outhouse without disturbing the rest of the household by going out their own door. There are other ideas and I plan to write about these in some future post. Thanks -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  11. Reflections -- thanks for the nice comment. i believe we are our past and I guess that is why I like to tie in our common history with today's life.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Aparna -- It is funny how they acted as greeters when I approached the fence. I did talk to them a bit and they do seem to listen. Animals intrigue me. Thanks -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  13. June -- Your interior configuration and the use you describe is similar to the tenant houses I am familiar with. Some tenant houses only have two rooms of equal size while you have four of equal size. It is very common to find appendages built off the back of such houses. I take it that your house was one story. Some tenant houses are a story and a half. Very typical outbuildings in the back of your tenant house. You probably had central heating (in the middle of the house) that heated each side. Early tenant houses had a middle fireplace with a central roof chimney while the later ones adopted a stove with a flue going out of the central part of the roof line.
    So nice to receive your information. I find the use of a home as fascinating as the form. Thanks barbara

    ReplyDelete
  14. Actually, the heating was from a fairly large stove in the living room that burned either wood or coal [or both] and from the large iron cooking stove in the kitchen. And, yes, it was one story. I had no idea the house had an architectural name. Thanks for all your information. I was actually born in that house.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Farmchick -- Tenant houses are very common to the Upland South area which includes Kentucky. They are so much a part of the rural culture. Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a great photograph. I love the way you see a subject and then take a picutre. my children's dad spent the first 8-9 years of his life living in a tenant farmhouse. His granddad owned the land. The family migrated from KY to NC back in the 1920s I think.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have very infrequently seen similar style houses out in the rural areas here with the two doors almost side by side, possibly built by American immigrants, but they are very few and far between here in Oz.
    At least I now know where the influence came from and maybe what the purpose of the double doors was!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I really enjoyed this post. There's a similar type house sitting in a pasture not far from where I live. I think they are using it to store hay for their cows at the present time. I'll try to remember to get a photo next time I go by there.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Interesting post. I had no idea these little two door structures are called tenant houses.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Charming picture! And such interesting comments.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dianne -- I have seen old photos that have tenant houses in North Carolina. Comments by June Calendar (above comment) describe the tenant house that she born in and lived as a young child. Thanks for the comments -- brbara

    ReplyDelete
  22. Jayne -- Your assumptions about tenant houses in OZ is credible. I am unfamiliar with the influence of American immigrants in OZ but diffusion of housing forms occurred across various borders on a regular basis. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  23. Mama-Bug -- For some reason hay or straw storage in many southern small vacant homes is a popular idea. With your great photography you could take a fabulous photo of the abandoned house along with the storage. Thanks -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  24. Tess -- have learned quite a bit about tenant housing from all the great commentaters today. Now know that tenant houses can be found in Indiana, Ohio, and Florida as well as in Kentucky.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Beautiful image and really interesting info about the house!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Short Poems -- Thanks for the nice comments. Rural settings have so much to offer a photographer. -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks you. Very good post.Unless they can offer a really compelling reason for users to come back, it will be the next Bebo, MySpace

    ReplyDelete