“We cannot judge the house without knowing what functions it was supported to serve and what functions it relegated to some other establishment,” writes J. B. Jackson as he argues that the historical, social and symbolic contexts of a home should frame our interpretation of such spaces. Merely categorizing homes by their architects and architectural style could be limiting since it says nothing of the rich social life nurtured within domestic landscapes.
The meaning of home and its architecture varies with people and generations. A home serves different social functions and its interiors hold many worlds under a single roof. Homes are sites of ordinary daily domestic life or places for domestic labor, be it childrearing or cooking. They are iconic and owners often present their identity to a larger world through their homes. Homes serve as commodities with resale values in a real estate marketplace or they are valued as esthetically crafted objects. Homes are repositories of individual and family memories and they bear testament to our past. Interpreting the many different meanings and functions of homes is central to writing stories of the residential landscapes of any neighborhood.
We highlight four functions of homes in this neighborhood. There are many more, but these four emerged from our engagement with the architecture and during our conversations with the residents. We found that homes in this neighborhood serve the function of generating contact, providing prospect, nurturing labor, and displaying craft.
Each of the homes highlighted in this section can be interpreted in multiple and overlapping ways. Thus homes listed under the section titled “labor,” may also be interpreted using the category of “craft.” Our intention is not to pigeonhole particular buildings as representative of a single identity but to engage residents and viewers of this website to begin to read their homes using all four thematic categories suggested above. We also encourage you to come up with your own interpretive lenses.
J. B. Jackson, "The Westward-moving House," in Landscapes, Selected Writings of J. B. Jackson, ed. Ervin H. Zube, pp. 10-19. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1970), 16.
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