Hollywood has nothing on Bismarck, ND! Storybook Success

I moved to a little pink stucco house in the fall of 2010.  Let me take you along for a stroll through some architectural history, which will be an enlightening way for me to tell you about the evolving style of my home and garden.

Storybook Snow

Storybook Snow

A wonderful book that will help illustrate and describe the style I am talking about is Storybook Style: American’s whimsical Homes of the Twenties, by Arrol Gellner & Douglas Keister, Viking Studio, Penguin Group, 2001. This is still available as a new or used book, and would make a great Christmas present for those interested in architectural and garden styles.

Storybook Style

Storybook Style

As international industrial activity increased at the turn of the century, a simultaneous reaction formed among those who wanted to retain hand crafted items and skills. This gave birth to the Arts and Crafts movement, complete with a romantic vision of the medieval past.  Melded with this perspective, and the extraordinary work of Spanish architect Gaudi, fantastical buildings began to gain favor.

Set in the scene of theatrical, movie set society of Los Angeles, one building speculator was inspired by fantasy architecture appearing in the movies and began to build his own creations.

S. H. Woodward began to develop a housing estate, which he called Hollywoodland.  He put up a fifty foot sign full of electric light bulbs advertising the development.  There were many European revival architectural styles represented but the area became known as ‘Storybook Land”. Many of these houses still exist today. The sign eventually lost its “land” and appears today in the Hollywood Hills as the famous “Hollywood” sign.

Hollywoodland 1923

Hollywoodland 1923

Hollywoodland Advertising

Hollywoodland Advertising

Characteristics of the Storybook Style include whimsical details, shapes, pointed roofs and other medieval details. Some of these homes were taken to fantastical extremes. With a flair for theatrical details, hand crafted ironwork, humor, and a high level of hand craftsmanship, this architectural style was meant to create an emotional response, rather than a considered, rational response elicited from the former, now unpopular, rigid classical styles.

In  the 1930’s, the “fantasy” building boom that started in California, was coming to a close. However, in Bismarck, North Dakota, the style was still popular. Styles and trends take their time arriving in the great Plains.  In 1935, in the developing neighborhood high on the “Hill” south of the Capitol of this northern state, a Bismarck architect named H. M. Leonard was busy building several homes. In the image below, you can see the characteristic details of the Storybook Style – articulated, sculpted stucco created to resemble rustic stonework, high-pitched roof, and wavy horizontal gable boards.

Storybook Pink Stucco Cottage, Bismarck, ND

Storybook Pink Stucco Cottage, Bismarck, ND

Do come back – more later!