Old House Idiosyncrasies #3–The Coffin Corner?

An item from the always interesting History Myths Debunked blog brings up the notion of the Coffin Corner.

Source: casacara.wordpress.com

Source: casacara.wordpress.com

In many old houses, at least in many that have steep winding stairs, at the bend in the stairs, there will be a sort of niche in the wall, typically housing a vase with some dried flowers, or maybe even a marble bust, if the house is fancy enough. These little niches are sometimes called “coffin corners”, and were purportedly built into the wall to allow a bit more room to navigate a coffin around the bend in the staircase.

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Old House Idiosyncrasies #2–Imbrication

DSC_0271Imbrication is a fancy word that means the overlapping of edges, such as in scales or tiles.  Or shingles, as it turns out.  In architectural parlance, imbrication is the use of specially shaped shingles to create a decorative effect.  Imbrication is often seen in Victorian homes, especially those built in the Queen Anne style, between about 1880-1900. Continue reading

Spooky Lego Victorian Houses

Victorian on Mud Heap (Creator:  Mike Doyle, Source: Mike Doyle Flckr stream, see link in text)

Victorian on Mud Heap (Creator: Mike Doyle, Source: Mike Doyle Flckr stream, see link in text)

One of the hobbies that my sons and I share is building with Lego.  While we’ve made some pretty cool creations (maybe I’ll share my steampunk private railway carriage some day), we’ve achieved nothing that compares with Mike Doyle’s amazingly detailed Victorian homes.  The twist? They’re deserted and falling to ruin.  His use of a monochromatic color scheme in these is both inspired and realistic.  Many more examples on his Flickr stream.

Old House Idiosyncrasies #1–Lighting

This post is the first in what will be an occasional series on the idiosyncrasies of old houses, their parts, and their décor. Anyone who lives in an old house knows there are many.

Today, let’s talk about chandeliers. But wait, “chandeliers”, strictly speaking, are lit with candles, even though in today’s vernacular, the term is used for any hanging light fixture. But the Victorians, being ever so precise, invented other terms.

A “gasolier” was lit with gas. Gasoliers can be identified as the shade points upward, and is usually wider to accommodate the gas jet. The light, such as it was, was produced by a rather dim, flickering open flame. Here’s a catalogue from the period which shows several gasoliers. Another way to identify a gasolier is the presence of a valve usually on the supporting arm, but sometimes on the burner. Continue reading