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Chapter XVI, "Everyman's House" book, by Caroline Bartlett Crane
Crane, Caroline Bartlett, 1858-1935, author

Western Michigan University

Architecture, Domestic


Better Homes in America

Item Number

Part of Caroline Bartlett Crane "Everyman's House" Collection

collection, text


205 CHAPTER XVI THE ADAPTABLE HOUSE (continued) EVERY little town has its Somebody's 'Folly'--the pretentious mansion whose erection and upkeep wrought the ruin of its too-ambitious owner--or, was it a too-ambitious wife? Every little town has, too, its 'never-never house'--a truncated upright with 'temporary' roof; a 'wing'; a mere 'lean-to,' perhaps. There it stands, year after year, pathetic exposure of a humble ambition which, nevertheless, overleaped itself. It cannot hide--as we hide our thwarted plans and humiliated ambitions, pretending we are all we ever set out to be! Ah! these little half-houses, little white-flag houses, humbly acknowledging surrender on their chosen field! What drear thoughts hide behind the unsheeted wall, with its frustrate window that was on the way to be a door 206 EVERYMAN'S HOUSE --the door to comfort and beauty and social elevation for the family; the door to 'respectability' for the house itself, among all those smug wood and mortar denizens of the street We, pitying the misadventures of others, but also instructed by them, have built our little house with its sprigs of hope all 'heeled in,' as the florists say. They're there, but nobody can see them till they burgeon forth into another room, or a sun parlour, or a sleeping porch, or a garage, or still another room. For another room would go nicely, would it not? as a wing on one or both sides of Everyman's House. In either case, an existing window becomes a door. And the roofs of these rooms become naturally sleeping porches for the adjacent bedchambers. Or, the additions could well consist of a room on one side of the house and a sun parlour on the other. Or, again, the little Colonial stoop in front may give way to a larger porch--though not large enough, let us hope, to include and shade the front windows. Or perhaps you would rather have a runabout than another room (assuming you have waited for this until you first achieved that 207 THE ADAPTABLE HOUSE nursery for the little runabouts at home). In fact, I imagine the first addition likely to be made to Everyman's House will be a garage. Hence, I want to indicate a particularly good place for it--just cornering on to the kitchen entry, as in the drawing on the following page. The steps to the kitchen entry, as you notice, now face the street so as not to interfere with opening the garage door. Those narrow steps inside the garage, and the door from the garage to the covered entry stoop, will be found of great convenience, especially in rainy or stormy weather. Everyman's porte-cochère! Something must surely be said of Every-man's House as adapted to the use of industrial plants which do 'model housing' for employees and their families. Following the announcement of our Kalamazoo 'Better Homes' Demonstration as winner of the National First Prize, I received scores of inquiries about our house plan. At least half a dozen came from the heads of large corporations and 'foundations.' However, were I ever invited to inspect the embodied results of my suggestions, it would surely break a fond mother's heart to be con- 208 EVERYMAN'S HOUSE [line drawing of garage: original not in collection] A GOOD PLACE FOR EVERYMAN'S GARAGE ducted between phalanxes of her child-in-replica all up and down the street! It is the fundamentals of Everyman's House that I would like to see made popular 209 THE ADAPTABLE HOUSE for large families living in small houses. Even if, for economy in 'mass production,' the internal structure be duplicated in a large number of houses, there's no excuse for proclaiming that fact from the house tops and the house walls and windows and doors and the front stoops. Think of a man spending all his day making screws or cotter pins 'just alike,' and condemned to walk home between two long rows of homes just alike! I should expect him to go crazy some day, lose his count, bolt into the wrong house, and break the furniture! However, variety in external appearance is not difficult to achieve--and it is, fortunately, the outside, not the inside, of other people's houses that we are continually seeing. Differences in building materials from foundation up; differences in roof lines and in style of porch and general trim; variety in colour of roofs, walls, blinds, and casings; with variety, also, in planting of grounds, will give something of individuality to each premises. And if, now and then, a house be interposed with its living room set broadside to the street (the house entrance being from a porch on the 210 EVERYMAN'S HOUSE side) we'll be needing witnesses to identify it. And it would break ranks for its companions up and down the street. These are some of the ways of stripping the uniform off uniformity. The building experts will know of others. Moreover, it ought to be made a misdemeanour--punishable by a sentence to live in it--for any corporation architect basely to imagine and bring to pass--Peapod Street! And, lastly, how would we adapt the plan of Everyman's House as a home for a farmer and his family? First, let me remind you that I said 'a small farmhouse'; meaning one in which, through a good part of the year, the farmer and his family live alone, without hired men. I was tempted into working on this problem, not from a desire to stretch the pretensions of Everyman's House to their utmost limit, but because there surely is no working mother who so sorely needs a house built around her and her baby, with all conveniences thrown in, as does the farmer's wife. The farmer's house is in the midst of his business--is, indeed, an essential part of that 211 THE ADAPTABLE HOUSE business. Though certain functions (for example, the care of milk and curing of meats) are commonly transferred to special little buildings, the home still remains the centre of varied activities, more or less seasonal in character, in which it resembles somewhat the pioneer home of the past. For the farmer's wife, there is 'the peak of the load' when she must feed, and, perhaps, lodge, a gang of threshers. There are smaller peaks scattered along through the year. But, also, there is the long winter lull when, on the small farm I am talking about, she has only her own family to care for, inside of the house. I do not know how the plan I have to suggest would work out, for I admit to being far beyond my depth of actual knowledge or experience in such matters. But never mind that. Haven't men been caught editing the 'Mother's Column' in the popular magazines? Anyway, I would like to see the following scheme tried out: A Mother's Suite, just as in Everyman's House, or, at least, as near as practicable. Almost all modern household conveniences have arrived at the farmhouse door--pressure 212 EVERYMAN'S HOUSE pumps, storage tanks, electric lighting and power, kerosene ranges; but unquestionably it costs more to install them in the isolated house. If we are talking of Farmer Everyman, who has some difficulty in making both ends meet, we must not demand the impossible. So, if a regular bathroom in the Mother's Suite is out of the question, then a wash room with some kind of sanitary indoor toilet will do. And in the kitchen we can have a sink with a drain, and at least cold water from a faucet, for a windmill and storage tank or a gasoline engine pump will provide that. And certainly a kerosene stove for summer; and if not electric lights, then some of the substitutes now available for rural use. My farm friends, with whom I have gone over this matter, say that Everyman's kitchen is just as convenient for a farm woman as for any other woman to cook and wash dishes in; also, that it is large enough for churning and butter-making; and, with its useful centre work table, it will serve for cutting up meats after the winter's incident of slaughtering. So much for convenience and step-saving in 213 THE ADAPTABLE HOUSE the farmhouse kitchen. But I would go further. I would have the combination living-dining room with four-storied passway between it and the kitchen. This would be for their use, just as the town family uses it, when the farm family is alone. But, for 'the peak of the load,' I would have, joined on at the side where the kitchen entry is in Everyman's House--a summer dining room. Rough lumber, rough plaster--a rude but pleasant and comfortable room, it should be, with one-piece window sashes sliding in open grooves clear to one side, leaving the whole space open. I would have table tops to set on trestles and wooden benches for seats. When not needed, they could all be piled to one side out of the way. At one end behind a dwarf partition, I'd have a place for the men to wash--and a shower bath, if I could. In rainy or stormy weather, the year round, I would use this room, with all windows wide open, for drying clothes. In summer I would iron there. If I had no other laundry, I would do my washing there. I would utilize this room, between times, as 214 EVERYMAN'S HOUSE a rainy-day playroom for the older children. I would put up a big stove and let the children bring in wood and have their winter parties there--candy pulls, dances, Hallowe'en, the Christmas Tree. I would serve all big family dinners there. You see, the Farmer's Wife needs not only a Mother's Suite and a model kitchen and a living-dining room, but it is she who really needs a special--but the reverse of formal--dining room. So we will call it; but it is a room to serve countless other good purposes the year round. And when not in use, it is off to one side where it can be forgotten. The farmer and the farmer's wife and children, at the busy season's end, can draw within the snug confines of their own proper private home and straightway forget the world, the flesh, and the 'thrashers.'[footnote 1] [footnote 1] I have submitted this chapter to the criticism of Mrs. Louise H. Campbell, State Home Demonstration Leader for Michigan, who approves it. Mrs. Campbell suggests putting a screened porch at the back door and making the windows in the summer dining room open street-car fashion.

Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman Chapter XVI, "Everyman

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