Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's a Small World ...

History Repeats Itself...

At the southern most tip of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans crash into each other, the Dutch East India company established a trading colony in the mid 17th century . 
Cape of Good Hope

Founded in 1679 by the Governor of Cape Colony
 is in the heart of what is now known as 
The Winelands
Simon Van Der Stell, named the town after himself
and why not ?
 "It's good to be KING."
More humble types such as farmers and merchants arrived from Flanders and 
built homesteads in a new style then unique to South Africa but influenced 
by designs from the old homeland

Recently I found this painting in my attic.
It was purchased by my parents in 1955 in Holland.
Painted in oil on board by
I now recognize it as the same place I took the
photograph below outside Stellenbosch, South Africa 

I knew when I took this picture that it reminded me of something

but I couldn't pin down what it was .  Now the connection
makes both the photograph and the painting more meaningful


The Cape Dutch Style

Stark lime washed exteriors with thatch roofs rise against 
the back drop of the surrounding hills .

Gable end walls with  a large center front gable dormer, often detailed with 
elaborate baroque gestures , bely the simplicity of the structures.

A thatched ceiling

Though solid and practical the style has a gladness about it
Built of simple, indigenous materials, the style carries influences 
from Flemish, German, Danish, and French architectural vernaculars, 
but speaks it's own  lyrical language. 

I love gabled end walls and have
 used them often in my own architectural 

Wooden partitions served as dividing walls and louvers allowed 
air to pass freely through the structure.  
Flemish chandeliers were brought from the Netherlands.

Available materials of wood and thatch were very flammable so 
fireplaces were limited for kitchen use only for fear of 
setting the whole place on fire. These early settlers 
planted vineyards and established wineries still in existence today.  
French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution in France 
settled in the area and brought with them viticultural and winemaking 

The Wine Lands of South Africa are now a destination for 
wine lovers and they produce some very nice wines exported all 
over the world.  
I suppose it really didn't matter to the sailors on the ships
plying goods back and forth from India to Europe 
how good the wine was,  as long as there was plenty of it.

Chimney Rock Winery was established in the Napa valley in the 1980's
The Cape Dutch style of the architecture was a tribute to the 
South African heritage of the founders

A side view of Chimney Rock  Winery

McAlpine Tankersley Architecture
A Cape Dutch inspiration for a beach front
house on the east coast of the United States

BTW- Congratulations to mcAlipne tankersley for having been selected  to
the AD 100 in the January 2012 issue of 

The Dutch Door typical for the main entry of every
 Cape Dutch Manor House 
 is often used in
 traditional American architecture

Connect the dots...
Look carefully- observe closely - 
                                                                               life is six degrees of separation
Design in the American colonies was heavily dictated
by styles in England of the same period. 

Styles traveled around the world quickly even in the 17th century.
William and Mary - 
Perhaps they improved by candlelight 
In 1689, William of Orange, born and raised in The Netherlands, became William III of England.
He reigned till 1702 with his wife Mary, and during his tenure on the British throne he introduced many Flemish designs into the refurbishing of Hampton Court. 

By the way- you can actually stay at Hampton Court by booking reservations through The National Trust.  Many historical properties allow overnight guest stays and make for a very special experience at very practical prices.

Colonial Williamsburg was established in 1693, five years after William of Orange ascended the British throne .

The College of William and Mary, the second oldest university in America, was founded in Williamsburg, also  in 1693

 Harvard University 
established 1636 
 Massachusetts Bay Colony

Hampton Court-London
 a writing room in a wing added by 
Sir Christopher Wren for
King William and Queen Mary
-notice the chandelier-
It is no coincidence that the Gun Room at 
The Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia 
is almost a copy of the Guard room at Hampton Court
The King's Guard Room at Hampton Court 
Gorgeous Flemish Chandeliers (now electrified) provided light
Chandeliers began to gain popularity in the middle ages. They were only used in the castles of the nobility and the homes of the wealthy merchant class,  more as a show of wealth then they were for providing real illumination. 
So what's changed ???
Arnolfini Wedding Portrait by Jan van Eyck 1434
A wealthy Italian merchant and his wife at their home in Bruges 
The chandelier hanging in the background is a sign of wealth and opulence

Is she pregnant in this wedding image ?
Would love any feedback on this question

An antique bronze Flemish chandelier still holds candles

Candles were expensive, required a full staff to keep lighted, and were cause for concern  of fire.
A small four arm Flemish style chandelier
A 1970's version of the Flemish chandelier 
is also
an iconic American style

I found  a pair of these chandeliers at a flea market-
took them apart-and then reassembled them
 in a more relaxed and graceful composition
Now they have a provenance  and the price was right
Oops...are those cob webs I see ?
The 18th century brought with it developments in glass production leading to the inclusion of the refractive crystals as decoration for chandeliers.
18th century French tole chandelier 
with cut crystals hangs unexpectedly 
in a protected outdoor loggia

There are many fabulous chandelier options available today from fine period antiques
to superb reproductions and contemporary new interpretations of old classics. These new
models allow for flexibility in sizes and finishes and are usually less costly then antique fixtures
The Sophie Chandelier 
available in other sizes and finishes from
Hector Finch
 Scalloped Chandelier modeled on a Swedish antique
available in custom sizes and finishes from
A sailing ship chandelier  sparkles as it floats overhead
A three mast schooner it is a reminder of the ships that sailed the oceans
400 years ago
I found this charming sparkler at ABC Home in NYC

Right after World War II the best known house in America was the New England style farmhouse built by Mr. and Mrs Blandings (AKA Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.) 
"You want to do WHAT ...?"
Have a good laugh and click on the link below to see what it takes to make the perfect color selection
What begins as the American dream becomes
the American nightmare
Myrna Loy was one of Hollywood's Leading ladies from 1934-1960
She is best known as Nora Charles starring with William Powell
in THE THIN MAN  films

Archibald Alexander Leach
"They just don't make them like they used to "
 He selected his Hollywood name,
Cary Grant because he believed the initials would bring
him luck in his career as they had Clark Gable and Gary Cooper
Five times married,  (I would have lined up for an audition) 
Grant's second wife was the heiress Barbara Hutton.
Cash and Cary
Grant, a true English gentleman, had signed a pre-nup and 
did not take any money when they were divorced in 1945. 
They remained life-long friends which says it all.

kids imagine building themselves
a dream house 
Inspired by Cape Dutch architecture I  have designed The Dream House for a client on the San Francisco peninsula. 

We have engaged McAlpine Tankersley Architects to turn my sketches, concepts and plans into working drawings...

... and Lencioni Construction to turn drawings into reality. 

Together as a team we hope to create a legacy project 

John Ruskin ( 1819-1900)
Leading art and architecture critic of the Victorian era

"Today his ideas and concerns  are widely recognized as having 
anticipated interest in environmentalism, sustainability, and craft."
I cherish this set of  books dated 1913,
 on building and estimating .
  Truly nothing changes
Building a house is a privilege.  
It should not become a nightmare.

I hope you will continue to check in. 
Progress reports on The Dream House will be published regularly as a part of 
my journal.

Carpe Diem 


Anonymous said...

This is a beautifully curated set of photographs, thoughts and information. You lead the reader through gently by the hand, progressing and digressing until you bring it all together at the end. Love it!

Julie O'Connor

Terri Wolfson said...

What an inspirational and educational journal from South Africa Cape Dutch to Napa Valley architecture and wine, William and Mary, to Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. You brought back so many wonderful memories of my childhood in Beverly Hills in Louella Parsons' home.
Thank you,
Terri Adrienne Wolfson

Anonymous said...

Your best yet! I love how your threads connect so unexpectedly-- great lessons in design, history, and so much more!

Susan Sully said...

Excellent, excellent blog!!! Your most recent post is about a subject fond to my heart. I love Dutch Cape style -- I love Bobby McAlpine's buildings in the style, and now I see how it inspires your designs, too. No wonder you and Bobby enjoy working together. And finally I love all the great historical matter you wove into this entry along with all the beautiful, rich imagery. You're an inspiration!

Celia McGuckian said...

Gorgeous blog! We lived in Cape Town for about 3 years (Constantia) in the 70s. I loved the Cape Dutch architecture, the wines, the scenery, the people, the music (saw the play Ipi 'n' Tombia in Cape Town). Thank you for these beautiful sights.