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.