As a boy in Pasadena, CA, I remember my mother reading Huckleberry Finn. Huck is an archetypal innocent, able to discover the “right” thing to do despite the prevailing theology and prejudiced mentality of the South of that era. We were renting a Bungalow in 1949, so that’s when my association of Bungalows and Mark Twain began.
For historic homeowners, the decision is often more complex than taking a quick trip to the paint store. It’s often important to know what the original exterior and interior colors coated the wall. Architectural historians routinely research and document this type of information. This can provide owners with a greater understanding of the design tastes of particular periods. For me, it was looking for an appropriate color after completing the interior restoration of Erehwon. Prior to moving to Minneapolis in 1982, I used Valspar’s clear Varnish on the restoration of a 1923 Wianno Senior Knockabout Sloop. My experience over three years in restoration came to a head while standing on a high promitory overlooking Lake Minnetonka. I was attending a cocktail party hosted by George and Sally Pillsbury. When former State Senator Pillsbury introduced me to C Angus Wurtele (Chairman of Valspar) and his wife Margaret. Can you imagine Wurtel’s face when I said “may I introduce you to “Corsair” pointing to out to a nearby mooring buoy—all the Varnish is Valspar.”
Valspar was the first ever clear varnish; developed by L. Valentine Pulsifer. Pulsifer had joined the company in 1903 after earning a degree in chemistry from Harvard University. After three years of experimentation, he created the clear varnish, which went into production by 1905. The Valspar varnish was the company’s main product for more than 30 years. The advertising tagline, “The varnish that won’t turn white” made Valspar a household name.
Famous users of Valspar included Robert Peary in his 1909 expedition, the U.S. military during World War I, Bungalow home owners in the 1920’s and Charles Lindbergh during his 1927 solo intercontinental flight.
Twenty six years after meeting the Wurtele’s, I was deep into the restoration of Erehwon Retreat when I read that Valspar had teamed up with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create more than 250 historically accurate colors for historic homes.
I was interested in green. Green is the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy. I think green has a healing power and is understood to be the most restful and relaxing color for the human eye to view. With the color green’s association with renewal, growth and hope, what a great color for a Retreat. New growth and rebirth, common each spring season the world over when all of the plants are coming back to life with fresh growth.
I selected Valspar’s Olive Green (#6001-2A). And Pittsburgh Paint’s Cherokee Red Taliessan created by Frank Lloyd Wright.
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus – Mark Twain
“I’m just breezin’ along with the breeze, Trailin’ the rails, roamin’ the seas.”
How perceptions about travel have changed since this 1926 hit Breezin’ Along With The Breeze. Bing Crosby recorded an arrangement in 1954, Sue Raney in 2004 and it was the Theme song for Fred Waring back when travel was easy and carefree.
Our New Normal
As it turns out, just two behavioral changes—frequent hand-washing and wearing masks—is enough to drastically reduce the possibility of catching COVID-19. It certainly doesn’t eliminate the risks, but it takes it down from very high, to quite low. A global study published earlier this month in medical journal The Lancet, confirmed that “face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection.” When everyone is wearing masks, the possibility of catching COVID-19 may be reduced by 85% or more.
I am pleased to announce we added new Amenities. We just received these adult and children sized face masks (which include a pocket for the addition of a coffee filter) from https://apartmentno3.com. This is the first of three orders of washable hand-crafted facial masks for guests use during future stays at Erehwon Retreat. We’ve also added Hand Sanitizing Gel, and disinfectant wipes for Guest use. Presently we are hosting 28 night stays only with a minimum 56 hours between each check out/check in. We plan to test shorter stays by January 2021. A sustained pandemic is not inevitable if businesses implement intelligent physical distancing and keep public health and safety first!
A guest recently said, ” the Bungalow’s front porch is the perfect cure all to all the digital screens we look at daily. How we’ve become used to the increasing hum and fans of electronics in our lives. We so enjoyed the renewal that came with this holiday home’s Front Porch along with the ease of a chat face to face with passing neighbors. Oh that Southern Hospitality! ”
The image of the front porch remains “as one of the few semi-public outdoor spaces associated with community and neighborliness,” says Victor Deupi of the Institute of Classical Architecture. Porches link us to an idealized past—one before e-mail (or even the telephone), when face-to-face interaction formed the core of communities. Then there are the practical considerations that have long kept the porch in favor: “Porches add beauty to a streetscape,” Depui says, “and they also offer environmental advantages by providing shade and breeze in the summer, and, if oriented south, allowing low winter light to enter the house.”
In contrast to many other American architectural traditions, however, the roots of our porches don’t appear to be found in Europe, but rather in the architectural heritage of colonial trading partners. Traders en route from the Caribbean to the British, French and Spanish colonies were influenced by island architecture, rich with large open porches to accommodate the humid climate.
Bungalows, were the last major historic architectural style in the United States to incorporate the porch. Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes made great use of porches, which reach out from under his signature cantilevered roofs. Wright, however, had a tendency to reorient the porch from the front of the house to the side or back, wishing to maintain the privacy desired by the modern family while also preserving his belief in the importance of a connection to the outdoors.
This Old House writes, “Soon, streets filled with Model T’s and the twin indoor delights of television and air-conditioning, and a middle class focused more on work than leisure conspired to dethrone the porch from its prominent place in American culture. But the underlying love for porches and their associations with the American identity never waned, and recent decades have seen a revival of porch-building. The classic image of a front porch filled with family and friends on a hot summer evening has long been a symbol of traditional American values, and it’s one that still holds true today.”