On my outings around my local city, I am more and more drawn to the character and features of the older buildings. Those built in an era of craftsmanship where the value was in the detail, often quite intricate.
There was great skill in creating ornate cornices and ceiling roses, turned timber bannisters, carved doors and elaborate leadlight windows. Door and window handles that complimented these interior features were chosen.
It was a time of creating lavish aesthetics rather than mere functionality. Every feature from the entry leading to the building to the hinges on doors were carefully selected and fitted. The buildings were often named and coupled with the features within, they had a persona all of their own. In their entirety, they oozed warmth and an invitation to enter.
The furnishings added to the splendour; detailed rugs adorned the floors and windows were dressed with leadlight panes or lush curtains. Fine pieces of furniture wisely placed, created by a workmanship rarely seen today completed the picturesque rooms.
As I think of this, I recall my great-grandmothers’ home I knew. It had a beautiful bay window complete with the window seat that served the purpose of storage as well as somewhere to sit back and relax. The finely crafted tables, chairs, pianola, beds, wardrobes and dressers all added to its charm. Curves in the timbered pieces, bevels in the glass mirrors and the upholstered fabrics complimented it all. What we know call retro light fittings seemed to be like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae. Perhaps this is where my love and appreciation of this style began.
Buildings of today seem to lack so much of this magnificence that was once prevalent. The exteriors have clean lines with plane surfaces and almost box like features. Inside, try to find a detail that draws your eye to it; just more plain surfaces with straight lines, everywhere.
These buildings go up so quickly now. Everyone seems in such a rush to complete the current building project so they can move onto the next one as soon as possible. Everything is hurried. Time is money. The faster a project can be finalised the more projects the builder can complete and the more money in the pocket. Likewise for the procurer, the less money to be forked out with the building being finished in record time, the more money in the pocket still.
Herein is the underpinning reason for the loss of such splendid constructions, I believe – money. I don’t discount style and societal changes in the equation though either. I acknowledge that nothing remains as it currently is; there is always evolution in everything. At times this is highly beneficial yet sometimes questionable as to what cost. Finding the comfortable compromise is a delicate balance.
I can only hope that there is preservation of the amazing heritage structures we have in their current form for many more years to come. Failing being able to maintain them in the physical, let’s hope they will be captured pictorially for generations to come to see how much development has transformed over the decades.
Photo: Milestone Hotel Dubbo NSW Australia (my photo)