“Godey’s Lady’s Book and the arrival of trains helped shape architectural and dress styles across the South….”
Mid 19th century architects showed their dislike of classical styles, through their introduction of the Gothic Revival style, one that swept across the region with lightening speed due to better communications, professional publications and improved transportation. The style just happens to be one that the R&R’s co-founders, are also attracted to; due to the woodworking skills, variety of designs, and whimsical motifs used by local builders to make it unique. Unfortunately, the preservation of these structures has most often been neglected, their decorative elements disappearing – removed when vinyl siding is applied. All too often when vinyl is added to eves, down comes the decorative trim that made the structure appealing in the first place. Or in other cases, painting the intricate brackets and scrolls of the style are too costly. In either case these house have for some reason been demolished at alarming rates.
When in 1830 Louis Antoine Godey (1804-1878), began his new publication for women, The Godey’s Lady’s Book, he recognized that it was the modern 19th century American women, who were taking a keen interest in their homes and fashions. His magazine helped spearhead thousands of creative ideas and stimulated the understanding and spread of architectural styles as well as fashionable dresses. His magazine combined the interests of; Architectural Digist, Southern Living, Vogue and even Pinterest.com….yes, he was indeed a trendsetter.
Gothic Revival architecture, which Godey’s often promoted on the pages of his magazine was not only used for homes but also on many public buildings; such as train stations, churches and schools. It offered a means for new homeowners to have a modern look, show that they were knowledgeable of fashionable tastes, and showcase their individuality. However, it is also somewhat peculiar that many of the houses constructed during this period were not all that different but rather alike. Two houses built about two block apart in downtown Chester, S.C. were virtually identical and it was common place to see whistle stops along the rail-lines offering identical structures every few miles. The only way someone might recognize they were at a new stop was by reading the signage.
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Though introduced to the region in the 1840’s these new styles were often slow to be embraced and constructed. Perhaps this was due to contractors pushing designs they were already equipped to construct or individuals wishing to simply fit-in, rather than stand out from the crowd. Never the less, following the Civil War, the style once again flourished.
R&R Follow-up: Your comments on recent articles are sincerely appreciated and we always love hearing from members and users. Roots and Recall will be at several upcoming public events in the region: April 21 – S.C. State Preservation Conference at the SC Dept. of Archives and History and on May 6 – Prosperity, S.C. at the Railroad Depot. Please stop by our display – we would love to meet you!
From the Porch – Blog @ RootsandRecall.com – 4.6.17