Presidents Day Program
Johnsburg Historical Society’s annual Presidents Day program will feature a talk and power point presentation entitled “The Development of Architectural Styles in the Adirondack Region.” Speaker Delbert Chambers will note the various styles of architecture in the region and touch on their evolution from the early 1600s. “Our architecture seems to be a widely overlooked asset and I hope to help promote an awareness of the buildings we see every day,” said Chambers. The free program begins at 2 p.m. Monday, February 18 at Wevertown Community Center, Routes 8 and 28, Wevertown.
Mr. Chambers has designed and built homes, commercial buildings and studios, is self-studied in the history of architecture, and is president of the Johnsburg Historical Society. He has created a permanent architectural exhibit at Warrensburg Museum of Local History. Examples in the Warrensburg exhibit include: from the Classical Period, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate; from the Romantic Period, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Shingle; from the Arts and Crafts Period, Bungalow, Craftsman, Four Square; from the Colonial Revival Period, Cape Cod; and from the Modern Period, Ranch. Many of these examples will be shown to support the program.
“The history of a community can be told from its buildings,” notes Mr. Chambers, who will focus on architectural styles in the local area from late seventeenth century to the 1950s. He dubs the styles unique to this area as “Adirondackture.” The buildings tell a story of a spirited people who built their homes and businesses in a frequently harsh environment softened by the beauty of the mountains, lakes and rivers.
The rugged terrain determined the type of architecture which would eventually become known as “Adirondack Style.” Availability of native materials influenced the style as well, and features such as oversized timbers, native stone, twisting branches, earth tone colors and unpeeled logs became associated with “Adirondackture.” Dwellings from the simple to the magnificent were constructed to harmonize with the landscape, a necessity in a mountainous area dominated by cliffs, rocks and boulders.
Adirondack style became popular across the country in other mountainous regions, with designs intended to reflect a connection to nature. Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park is an example, as is Glacier Park Lodge in Montana. Like the Adirondack Chair which is known internationally as a sign of leisure, Adirondack style architecture has spread across the country as a symbol of our rootedness to the earth.
Among the notable regional homes to be discussed are the Dunn House which is the Greek Revival mansion on South Johnsburg Road, and The Gables, the magnificent North Creek home of railroad tycoon Dr. Thomas C. Durant.
Familiar to Johnsburg residents and visitors is the style known as American Vernacular. The Johnsburg Historical Society’s publication, River, Rails and Ski Trails, describes this style:
“Special in Johnsburg is the American Vernacular, defined as the freestanding narrow and deep retail store – an Americanism that dots rural hamlets across the country, although it is particularly associated with the frontier. Typically the structure is one or two stories, clapboard sheathed and porch fronted… Nine of them are standing on Main Street in North Creek being put to good use…
Throughout architectural histories these buildings have been variously referred to as: Double-Tiered Porches, Old West Main Street Commercial, Two-Storied Porticoes, Two-Part Commercial and Two- Tiered Veranda.
Any of these ring a bell as you travel up and down Main Street in North Creek?”
The program will discuss not only the area’s well-known regional treasures but also the simple cabins in the woods, which are, as author of Cabin Country Paul Schaefer noted, “a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the life I was living, a place to sit in front of the fireplace, alone or with friends, anticipating the trip on the morrow or reliving the adventures of the day.” This event is an opportunity for all age groups to become informed about the structures we encounter every day and their fascinating histories.
Johnsburg Historical Society welcomes new members. Help is always needed with programs, Living History interviews, accessions and exhibits. Open board meetings are held the first Monday of each month at 11 a.m. at Wevertown Community Center, or by appointment with general membership. For more information please call 251-5788 and leave a message.