House on the Hill

On a last, sentimental, hike through my favorite La Crosse park I circled up along the bluff top from one trail head to another.  I’ve often walked down that road before, past scenic horse pastures on the right and a few solitary houses on the left – each with its stunning view overlooking the city below and the river and Minnesota across it.  The property values must be incredible and there is an increasing high-buck high-square footage development slowly increasing, despite the housing crunch, further down the road.  But at the highest point of the bluff there are three houses in a row which particularly caught my eye.  They were each so different and so perfectly representative of their type.  I had to stop and snap photos.

The first is a perfect white clapboard farm house (albeit with a generous two car garage).  It has a prairie inspired garden overlooked by a generous porch, overhanging roofs, gingerbread detail and faux shutters.  Its clearly not a real farm house – but it is a nice enough simulation and the effect is very pleasing and not at all ostentatious.

The second house is a very nice example of the American Georgian (or Federal) type – perfectly symmetrical even to the heavy brick lamp posts flanking the drive.  I wonder if the brick chimneys on each side both hook up to functional fireplaces or are simply for effect.  Either would be true to the Georgian obsession with  parallelism – the original designers were in no way averse to strange interior convolutions to generate exterior forms.

And the third is a seventies split level focused outward on the view.  There’s a full height atrium dividing the two sides of the house with a dramatic modern art lamp and a line of solar thermal panels oriented southwards to the side of the house.   The blending of Cherokee red and field stone feel like a nod to FLW design ideas.  The three in a row are so interestingly distinct and so un-ostentatious that I felt the need to commend them here.

Of course, all the other houses along Rim of the City road are McMansions.  Blerg.

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