Basil and I took a spin around the alleys of a suburban town, as we are wont to do, and here’s what we found this time.
First, one of the alleys. They’re just narrow lanes running behind houses — a relic of the way homes were once built in the area. Most of the garages that open onto the alleys were once carriage houses, first for horses and later for horseless carriages. And, even later, for anything at all.
On these streets, there aren’t any driveways at the front of the homes, or running beside them. Parking and housing vehicles is usually done at the extreme back of each lot, where these buildings often still stand.
Almost all have been re-purposed, though most seem to be used as tool-and-garden storage. I like to think that the one above is a backyard study, though, since the curtains are so home-like.
The hits of this excursion, though, were the decorative plaques and windvanes. The former carriage house above is decorated with this delightful fish, the significance of which is best known to its owner.
I suspect that this particular outbuilding was originally something smaller — say, not much larger than the width of those doors. (A homeowner’s compulsion to add-on may extend to the alley on occasion.) The shutters and flower boxes are charming, though.
The windvane is designed after an old schooner; I confess to liking the cupola, with its slightly curved roof, arches, slats, and boxy footing, just as much.
Not every outbuilding is precisely “quaint”; decorative approaches are as varied as the owners must be. Here, the dark green trim, shutters, and shingles liven up what would otherwise be a quite plain shed.
Those side lamps are interesting, and totally modern: they are motion-activated security lights! (Basil and I were curious about the obviously elderly building to the right, but we draw the line at clamouring into other people’s yards uninvited.)
Not every building we encountered resembled a small-scale dwelling. This one must originally have been either the largest carriage house in the county, or (rather more likely?) a kind of barn. Or possibly housing for vehicles, a chauffeur and cook?
Whoever selected its windvane has a sense of humor: Pigs fly!
Across the alleyway, however, so do dragons:
This vane is teeing off perpetually into the wild blue yonder. The building he’s standing on looks like a bit of a twist itself: I think someone may have crafted an actual garage onto a carriage house, in an inversion of the more typical situation.
A final plaque caught my eye. It had apparently slipped from its moorings, but was still interesting.