Category: Architecture

You have to check out these great shots from the Gondola! For full viewing pleasure go to the source below!

  Zeppelin Eureka

Photo Gallery

I’m still giddy over having had the opportunity to ride in, and photograph the only Zeppelin in the United States. The ‘Eureka’ is one of a new breed of lighter than air ships manufactured by the Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH, and operated by Airship Ventures. Based out of Moffett Field (in Mountain View, CA), the Eureka offers sight-seeing rides of the Bay Area and Monterey. Riding on the Eureka, and becoming a Zep head was truly a remarkable, and unforgettable experience!
Nikon D300 w/ 18-105mm VR lens, Nikon D200 w/ 70-300mm VR lens – Bernard Zee

Our trip started out with a preflight briefing, security screening, then a ride out to the private section of the Oakland airport. There, we watched the arrival of the Eureka airship!
Not to be confused with a Blimp, the Eureka has a rigid internal structure. So even with the helium removed, it will retain its general shape.
Airship Ventures started operating the Eureka out of Moffett Field in November of 2008. At 246 ft long, it is the largest airship in the world.
That’s our pilot Katherine ‘Kate’ Board. She is the only female Zeppelin pilot in the world. I believe she’s British.
Eureka’s 2 main engines are mounted high above the gondola, attaching to the airship’s internal bracing instead. This reduces engine noise and vibrations in the cabin, and also allows for an impressively unhindered viewing experience.

The 3rd engine is mounted aft, where it drives 2 propellers. One helps control yaw (like a helicopter tail rotor), and the other pitch. The one pointed down in the picture can be swiveled upwards, where it acts as a pusher propeller during normal flight.

Here’s Kate getting ready to lift off.

And away we go!! Oh my gosh, the take off was unbelievable! With no effort at all, we were hundreds of feet above the ground. It really was just like releasing a helium balloon. Helium of course, is the inert-lighter than air gas which provides the buoyancy that allows Eureka to fly.

Airship Eureka has 2 doors, each with a window that opens. Yes, not only do they open in flight, they encourage you to stick your head out there!!

The cockpit area, like the rest of the cabin, provides a wonderfully unobstructed view of the surroundings.

As we head towards San Francisco, Alameda island can be seen on the left.

Eureka’s cabin can seat 12 passengers, plus a crew of 2.

Here is an aerial view of the USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), moored in Alameda.

Sticking my head (and arm and camera) out the window, I get this view… Yeah, it’s pretty intense!

Directly below is the 880 Freeway (which we all know and love so much). I believe that’s Jack London Square towards the middle, and the old Alameda Naval station towards the top left.

Cruising at around 1000ft and 35mph, we got this amazing view of downtown Oakland, Berekely, and beyond!

At the briefing, they actually encourage you to stick your head out the window. That is how one gets inducted into the Zep-Head club! Yes, some people did it more than once. 🙂

No, it’s not a bluescreen photoshop. This is actually the back end of the gondola (note the little sticker about the seat). It’s this bench, with a wrap around view of the rear. Other than sticking the head out the window, the best spot to be on the airship!!

With the engines mounted so high, you’d really have to make an effort to see it. Even with the windows open, it’s more of a whishing noise, as the propellers cut into the air. Seen in the distance is of course, downtown San Francisco.

Once airborne, passengers were free to roam around and take in the sights from different stations. Trust me, no one just stayed in their seat!

Here we are, flying over Alcatraz.

Lived here for almost 20 years, but have never set foot there. The shame! But at least I’ve now flown over it!!

A picture postcard view of San Francisco, including Pier 39, and the Aquatic park. Other icons like the Transamerica building, coit tower, and Bay bridge can also be seen.

Looks like a wing, but it’s actually the rear underside of the airship.

We make a U-turn before getting too close to the Golden Gate Bridge. We were not flying the airship’s normal routine, as this was the Thursday of Fleetweek, and the Blue Angels were getting ready to do their practice flight – all sorts of airspace restrictions were in place… we were thankfully to be even allowed to fly! By the way, Eureka did participate in the Fleetweek ’09 air show. It did a hover, rocking, spinning, and nodding routine (I don’t know how else to describe it!) Saturday. Sunday’s show was considerably shorter, and it only did a fly by.

Here’s another shot showing the interior. Even if you stayed in your seat, there are huge windows you could look out of.

The pilot and co-pilot’s view.

This is looking out the back window, where the airship’s tail wheel can be seen, as we turn away from San Francisco.

Over flying Yerba Buena island.

Our co-pilot for the day was Flight Instructor consultant from Germany, Hans Paul Strohle. Got a lot of good information about airships from him! Weight management is very important for airship operations. Tiny things like direct sunlight warming up the gas in the airship a couple of degrees would generate increased lift (I think he said 80kg per degree Celsius) – due to the gas expansion. Conversely, losing the sun in the evening would cause a loss of lift. Things like how much fuel, rate of consumption of fuel, how many passengers, and so forth all figure into the calculation.

When they first picked us up, there were a few extra crew members on board. But that’s not nearly enough to offset the 12 passengers they were to take on. So they carried water as ballast. After taking on the passengers, the water was released, and away we went! (The grass at Oakland airport really looked like it could use it too!)

An artsy shot of San Francisco, in almost monochrome color.

Shooting towards the sun is usually not advised, but what the heck. Rules are meant to be broken!

Downtown Oakland. That crazy straight street? I believe that’s Broadway.

Lake Merritt is pretty darn big.

If you stick your head far enough out the window, you CAN look straight down. Probably not something many would want to do!

A parting view of downtown Oakland. Or as a Southwest flight attendant said over the intercom – land of Oaks. I know, I’m just repeating what I heard!

The Oakland Coliseum parking lot is huge!

The Oracle Arena (where the Warriors basketball team plays) looks like a giant bulls eye that says to space aliens – shoot me here!

Yeah, Kate thinks that’s funny! (no, not really…she’s just smiling for the camera). The air ship uses fly-by-wire technology, to control the 3 engines.

The airship pilot uses the joy stick for primary directional control, and the computer figures out the rest (like how much to swivel or tilt the engines, and a host of other calculations). There are a also other controls available which can be used to adjust for trim and buoyancy if needed.

View from the cockpit. Note the ropes are always there!

Actually shot this with a very slow shutter speed. The props don’t really seem to spin that fast in real life. Even though we were supposed to cruise at around 35mph, I think the pilot’s GPS said we were going 45kt. Max speed, which is not ever used, is 70kt.

Eureka is the 3rd of its class of Zeppelin NT airships, and the only one in the United States. The other airships are in Germany, and Japan. The one in Japan flies for ads space only, and doesn’t carry passengers.

Am I sticking my head out the window again? Looks like it! It’s actually hard to hold steady with the wind buffeting me.

Here’s a shot showing the Zeppelin’s shadow. With the sun being so far from earth, the light rays reaching us are for all intents and purposes parallel. Thus, the shadow cast by sunlight is the same size as the object (assuming the surface the shadow is cast on is normal, or perpendicular, to the light rays). You can see how big Eureka is by comparing the cars on the freeway below to the shadow!
Of course, the Eureka is a fraction of the size of the giant interwar year Zeppelins and rigid airships. Those behemoths can easily carry over 100 people in comfort.

Throwing in an artsy shot of the airship controls.

I liked the way the 4 softball fields are arranged.

The old salt evaporation ponds (between the San Mateo Bridge, and the Dumbarton Bridge) creates interesting color patterns, due to the different salinity and resultant algal and brine shrimp concentrations.

Helium and air valves. Apparently, helium is never released during normal flight. Air is moved back and forth to help trim the air ship though.

Here’s a nice view of the air ship’s cabin.

As we approach the end of the flight, we have to once again take our seats and buckle in. Out the window can be seen the main runway of Oakland International airport. No, we’re not landing there…

As mentioned before, the cabin is very quiet, and it’s effortless to carry on a normal conversation. The ride was likewise very smooth.

Just so there’s no mistake, ‘OAKLAND’ is painted in big letters on the tarmac.

On final approach, it’s as soft as an escalator ride. Actually, even smoother! The key to Eureka, is that it is safe. Unlike blimps and older generation airships, the Eureka is fully maneuverable. Even in light to moderate winds, it can hover and land, and only needs one person on the ground to hang on to the rope. A far cry from the old days, when there were tons of people grabbing the ropes and hanging on for dear life!

The front of the airship has what looks to be a quick connect fitting, which attaches to a boom on a truck in Moffett field. That’s how they park her at night. Sometimes, they will roll her into the hangar. But mostly, it’s park outside hangar 2. Tethered only on the front, the airship is allowed to swivel around that attachment point by the blowing wind.

With all the passengers off, and a new load of passengers on, Eureka prepares to take off again.

And Off it goes!

Pretty cool to have it fly directly overhead!

you can check their website for details, but I believe Airship Ventures charges $495 for an hour’s flight. Chartered flights are also available.

I count my lucky stars to have had the opportunity to experience flying in an airship! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to float above the hustle and bustle, you owe it to yourself to try this out!

More aerial shots

Some more aerial shots from the Zep (if you’re not tired of them yet!).


Real or Memorex?

What would it take to make it work?

Besides  PhotoShop that is!

Devil might be in the Details but what is he looking at?

A detail of a fresco by Giotto is seen in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi

REFILE – ADDING THIRD PARTY DISCLAIMER A detail of a fresco by Giotto is seen in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi in this picture released to Reuters on November 5, 2011. Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, church officials said on Saturday. The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century. The discovery was made by Italian art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis. REUTERS/Basilica of St Francis in Assisi/Handout

A detail of a fresco by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi is seen in this picture released on November 5, 2011. REUTERS/Basilica of St Francis in Assisi/Handout    A detail of a fresco by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi is seen in this picture released on November 5, 2011. REUTERS/Basilica of St Francis in Assisi/Handout

Handout of a detail of a fresco by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi

And what is with Assisi any way?

A Sissy?

Reverse Assisi?  Isissa? Is I Ssa? A Slave’s Answer to the Master?

I Si Ass? I See Ass? I Yes Ass?

Yes I am an Ass!

Will passover the Ass Cracks, for this time at least.

Lots of hidden things to see.  I remember pointing out to my Grandmother Wilda Foster, the group of hunting dogs in a Tapestry on the wall of the Palazzo Vecchio, the “Old Palace”.  They were not hunting.  If they were humans they would of been using the leaves of the forest to clean up, as the hunters back then did not carry Doggy Doo Doo Bags!

Or the bunny rabbit in the vegetable borders!


Just one of many Plans at

Townhouse Plans

October 29, 2011


Three Aspects to Consider When Designing Townhouse Plans

townhouse plansTownhouse plans can be very complicated if you do not know the basic concepts. There are several aspects that you must consider before choosing this house to support your life. Actually, townhouse is part of urban lifestyle. There is not enough space in the town so people usually consider this place to live in. Urban dwellers tend to choose multi story structure that can maximize limited space. However, choosing this type is not always affordable.  Home price is really expensive in the big city. There are three aspects to consider before you design townhouse plans. Size, budget, and resident can influence your design.

The first factor of townhouse plans is the size. Apartments only provide limited space for busy people. They are commonly chosen since they can offer more affordable price. However, town houses are more spacious. Multi story structure can provide wider space to enjoy comfort ofhome without any annoying limitation. Actually, townhouse plans usually include two floors to ensure that the homeowners can get more space to enjoy their life. The bedroom is placed on the second floor. Meanwhile, living room are kitchen are designed on ground floor. You can also decide the number of bedroom in your home. Three bedrooms are more than enough  for small family. The number of bathroom should accomodate need of each member of family. Townhouse plans are ideal choices of urban dwellers since they can provide wider space to enjoy life and have fun with family.

You cannot realize any townhouse plans without budget.  Of course, building house is very costly. You must save money for years until you can purchase new home. The quality of the residential property is influenced by your budget. Size, number of room, material, and builder influence the budget that you must spend on townhouse plans.

Residents are the last important factors. You need to think about the residents before designing townhouse plans. People who live around you can influnce your plans since they have different need, age, and gender. Of course, their hobbies and activities are not the same. You must manage size of living space to accomodate their need.

Whatever your decision, it is recommended to understand your need before considering townhouse plans. You must understand what your family really want. Considering those aspects is starting point for your plan. Your plan will be useless until you can manage your budget to realize your plan. Actually, designing townhouse plans is really a challenging job.

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Tags: ground floorhousehouse planslimited spaceplantownhousetownhouse plansurban dwellersurban lifestylewider space

Schack's Shack is not just a home. This King's Castle is his Home.  
It could be Yours for a Day if his Royalty you can Ransom!
Have you ever gotten over to Poulsbo area to see Dana Schack's castle yet, wow!

No that is not the Castle behind El Rey Dana, The King, it is his Well, and if his
Water is that Well protected, can you imagine how he protects his food!?!
Every King needs a Throne

You will wind up hills through dense forest, traveling back into the past and wala!
What you say it doesn't look big?  
See the front door? 
Each of the two door panels weigh over 300 pounds!  
While you attempt to pound your way through it you will be taking
continuous fire from the interlocking Arrow slits, truly a sticky wicket that! 

Each of the 3 levels measures 40 by 40 feet, with four octagonal towers. 
That is not revealing what machines of war are ensconced on the Castles 4th and final roof level.

Want a free Hot Oil treatment? By all 
means, declare your intentions prior to approach, or Die without Reproach! Or just 
be a bit Boiled and Poached!
He generally hosts an Open Castle once a year.
Can't Wait for the next one?
Care to procure an invitation, or take him up on a Tour?
Check his Facebook site, leave him a message, send him an Email. 
Never got the chance to have that Never Neverland get away?
Want to be a King for a Day?  Host Rousing Toast Display?
Make the Royal Wedding of your Dreams a true Real Royal Royality?
Come play Dungeons and Dragons in a Castle?
Will there be Tunnels and Trolls?
Recreate as the SCA recreates?
This and more could all be yours, if only...

You really should see it.  He has the main ground floor like a real great room , huge table, 
fur covered tressle benches,  trophy shields on the wall,

mostly had crafted and decorated by his own hands, taught to him by his father a Norman King,
and grandfather a Viking Longship builder by trade.


It just needs a better fire place / Roasting spit. 
He really needs a false front to put infront of the dinky fireplace county codes allowed, 
you know cow rotisserie fire contraption.  
Maybe a papermache cow or roast pig thing, would be great. 

whole hog

fireplace cooking accessory 


For more on Viking ways of Food preparation check out  
dreams, wants, needs, likes, dislikes, greeds, do it tomorrows, too many square toits, 
never enough round ones, that was one of Tol's (my Foster Father, C.E. Tol Foster) jokes, 
always finding Square Toits, never getting a Round To It.
Always something distracting, poor timing, or just sheer thick headed lazyness.
Hmm, he always called me MuscleHead, and asked "What are you good for?" all the time.
Think he knew something I haven't figured out yet?

Father Mine, 
The Fates are Cruel!
They took you Tol,
They cut the Tales too short,
They left the tears too long.
There is no puppy in the window.
The sash is down,
You went out of town.
"What are you Good For?"
Forced into a Shell,
No Bounce left to right
All rolled in a Ball.
No Entity to Fight.
Try as I May,
Try as I mite,
All I can write
Is oh so contrite.
Father Mine,
Your Left was my Wrong,
But I was not strong,
I could not follow along.
There is no sing to my song.
I am but a Fool,
Not a sharp tool.
Tell me,
Father Mine!
What will I ever be good for?

Loren Foster aka shadolrds
"From Whom Words Shadow Doles"


Victorian House Plans, and just what would a House Plan to Do Anyway?

Cottage House Plans – 1877

These cottage house plans feature a house of 26 x 26 feet. It will be noticed that one chimney serves for communication with every room in the house, thereby securing the greatest economy in heat as well as in construction. The kitchen is situated in the base­ment, but the plan is so arranged that by a very slight modification, and without requiring an additional chimney, the kitchen can be located on the first floor. The first and second floor plans explain themselves; they are drawn on 1/8 inch scale. Folding doors divide the parlor and dining room, and long windows from the parlor and hall open upon the front portico. In the second story are four bedrooms and a bathroom, all of good size and arranged in the most compact and convenient manner. From the second story hall a close flight of stairs leads to the attic, where a couple of fine bedrooms may be finished off if desired.


Townhouse Plans
If true excellence in the art of townhouse plans consists in producing the most commodious, substantial, and beautiful structure at the least expense, then the townhouse plans presented here are of a very superior quality; because, while the accommodations are very extensive, the conveniences are most complete and carefully considered, the building very firm, substantial and durable, and the exterior striking and original in its beauty.

These townhouse plans are the wonder and admiration of the neighborhood, standing out in beautiful relief from the stereotyped flat roofs and facades of the townhouses in the vicinity. The first and second floor townhouse plans show the internal arrangement. On the first floor are parlor, dining room, and kitchen. The parlor and dining room each contain a fine semi-octagonal bay window. The parlor window features a view through the street in either direction. The dining room bay window has an exposure to the front street as well as in other directions. Under the main stairs is the dining room china closet. The pantry dividing the dining room from the kitchen contains the stairs to the cellar.


A spacious kitchen storeroom is provided in these townhouse plans, and wash trays are fitted up in the kitchen, the dimensions of the latter affording ample room for laundry as well as for culinary purposes. The kitchen is fitted up with a range, boiler and sink. The several fireplaces of the first floor are placed in the best positions for utility and effect. The sliding doors dividing the parlor and dining room are finished with elliptical head, and trussed arches of the same form span the bay windows.

The second floor of the townhouse plans contains four bedrooms and a bathroom. Each bedroom is provided with a closet and wash basin. The bathroom is fitted up with a bathtub and water closet, cased and trimmed up in hard wood. A close flight of stairs leads to the attic, which is very spacious and well floored. The attic of these townhouse plans could afford several additional fine bedrooms.

The slopes of the roofs of the townhouse plans are covered with Chapman roofing slates, with ornamental courses of colored slates in cut butts, as shown. The deck roof, valleys, and gutters are tinned. The townhouse is finished in a manner far superior to brick filling, the materials and work­manship the very best, and many novel details have been introduced which it is not practicable here to show.

Cottage House Plans – 1875
The cottage house plan featured is designed to occupy a lot sufficiently large to include a fine lawn to the principal front, while at the same time not to encroach on the other side. The most desirable form of lot to suit this case, should be 75 feet front by 150 feet deep; the surface considerably higher at the rear with the general slope toward the front. This would allow for elegant terracing, which, with trees and shrubbery artistically disposed, would greatly enhance the beauty of the lot. The front of the house should be positioned so as to secure as much sunlight as possible.

In appearance, the exterior shares in the French Gothic style of architecture, somewhat modernized to suit the wants of a country residence. The elevation is drawn to a scale of eight feet to one inch.

Cottage House Plans
Cottage House Plans
The front entrance doors are 2 feet 6 inches wide, making a door opening of 5 feet in the clear. Entering the hall, the staircase is first seen. To the left is the parlor, containing a roomy bay window with arched head and ornamental corbels. Interaction is had with the veranda by means of the wide-boxed head window which slides high enough to admit a person passing through without stooping. The dining room is provided with similar windows opening on the veranda. A large octagon bay window adds to the capacity of this important room, while the upholstered seat gives to it a comfortable appearance. The position of doors, windows, and fireplace exhibit a pleasing symmetry of arrangement; a place for a side­board is provided between the two doors of the china closet and pantry.
Cottage House Plans
The storeroom and pantry have a convenient access to the kitchen and dining room, and are fitted up with dressers, cupboards, drawers, shelves, etc. In addition, there is a place provided for a refrigerator in the pantry. If desired, the back hall and pantry could be made into one room, forming a large and spacious pantry, and the storeroom could also be increased in size.

The kitchen is supplied with all conveniences. There are back stairs to the second floor and a direct connection to the basement. The kitchen features a sink, pump, table with cupboards below, and a closet for kitchen cooking utensils. The rear entrance to the kitchen has an easy access. Three good sized windows in the kitchen will materially assist in the ventilation; as well there is a flue especially provided in the chimney so arranged as to insure a thorough drawing off of all foul smells. In further reference to ventilation, particular notice is called to the arrangement and disposition of doors and windows in the different rooms and halls, so that in summer a breeze will cool the house.

The second story rooms are spacious, and contain necessary closet accommodation. The bedroom over the parlor, besides having a small closet, contains a wardrobe with shelves above; this is treated so as to make it an ornamental feature in the room. The bedroom over the dining room has a bay window and a large closet. Two closets, one on each side of the bay window, may be made if desired; this would better preserve the symmetry and proportion of the room. The staircase continues to the attic, where there are three good sized rooms, which may be left unfinished.

Country Home Design
This country home design was erected at different periods of the 19th century. The main building was constructed in 1868. The country home design was expanded upon in 1870 with several additions, consisting of a laundry, and a new dining room with dinner service rooms and pantries. This country home design was transformed into a 16 roomed villa of superior accommodation. In remodeling many difficulties were surmounted of an architectural and construction kind to obtain that complete unity of style apparent now in this 19th century country home design.
The materials of construction were wood, the frame sheathed and felted, the roof slated, and the interior finish tasteful and sufficiently elaborate to harmonize in character with the style of the house. A stable, called a “cottage stable”, was enlarged at the same time, and a gas-house was also built, with fixtures for lighting the dwelling. The cost of the first contract for the original country home design was $8,000, of the second $6,000, and of the third $4,000. This excellent design is fromAtwood’s Modern American Homesteads, and is one of the best of Atwood’s efforts.
Victorian Cottage – Cottage House Plan
Cottage House Plan - Victorian Cottage
These free house plans of a Victorian cottage are from Leffel’s House Plans. The cottage house plan shows front and side elevations and floor plans of a very attractive Victorian cottage, designed by C. N. Cornell, of Alpena, Michigan.

Many cottage plans built in the North and West are of the general dimensions given in this cottage house plan design. Namely, the main part of the Victorian cottage is 16 by 24 feet, with 16-foot posts, and a wing 16 by 20 feet, with 12-foot posts. It is best to note that this Victorian cottage is a very unsatisfactory building to divide into convenient apartments.

Cottage House Plan - Victorian Cottage
This architectural illustration shows the
front elevation of this Victorian cottage in 1886.
Offered in this cottage house plan design is an original and entirely different interior arrangement from that usually adopted, as well as presenting a more attractive external appearance than the usual plain Victorian cottage with one-third pitch gabled roofs. If finished in the usual plain way, the wing might be two stories also, and contain an extra bed chamber and a bathroom, and still come within $1500. If the Victorian cottage is finished in the old fashioned plain way on the exterior, the interior of the Victorian cottage can be carried out for $1000.  In the estimate given, it is intended that the building be finished in detail, according to the cottage house plan, in a first class and thorough workmanlike manner.
cottage house plan - Victorian cottage
This cottage house planshows the first floor
plan of a Victorian cottage in 1886.
Particular attention is called to the entrance hall in this cottage house plan design which affords convenient access with parlor, kitchen, bedroom chambers. The enclosed or box stairs have an easy run and rise, furnished with a hand rail, and well lighted from the window at the landing. The grate being placed across the corner, gives symmetry to that side of the parlor, and still allows ample room for a double doorway into the dining room. The china closet is convenient to both kitchen and dining room.
Cottage House Plan - Victorian Cottage
This cottage house planshows the lower floor
plan of a Victorian cottage in 1886.
The kitchen of this cottage house plan has good sized pantry, with a closed cupboard and shelving, and there is a convenient passage from the kitchen to the cellar under the stairway.

All the bedrooms in this Victorian cottage have closets of good size, and all rooms have access to chimneys.

Cottage House Plan - Victorian Cottage
This architectural illustration shows the side
elevation of a Victorian cottage in 1886.


Victorian Architectural Ornament
Gothom Inc., a manufacturer of custom Victorian style architectural ornament, is profiled.Victorian For Sale
Colorful inside tour of a Victorian treasure.

Modern Home Remodeling and Design
Do-it-yourself guides, pictures, and tutorials to help with home improvement and remodeling projects.

Google Maps Street View – Help with Remodeling?
Use Stroll through the streets of San Francisco and examine the famous “painted ladies” for inspiration for your next home improvement project.

fretwork Joe Colucci, the proprietor of Gothom Inc., a manufacturer of custom Victorian style architectural ornament and fretwork, is profiled.

Victorian Architectural Ornament

– A Current Perspective –

By Annie Kramer

       My first contact with Joe Colucci, the proprietor of Gothom Inc. (manufacturers of custom Victorian style architectural ornament), came while I was restoring a large Victorian home in Troy, New York, some twelve or thirteen years ago.  I think I found out about him in an Old House Journal reference.  After several minutes on the telephone, I recognized a kindred spirit with a passion for Victoriana.  I met him a year or so later in Port Huron, Michigan.  Over the next months, while he helped with my front porch there, we collaborated on several other facades on the same street – part of a downtown restoration project I was involved with.  Since then, he has become a fixture in my life.
Here are a few biographic details.  Growing up in Toronto in the 1960s and 1970s, Joe became acutely aware of its rich store of exuberant Victorian buildings, many over one hundred years old.  It seemed to him that they dated back to the beginning of architectural time – after all, Canada was born while Queen Victoria reigned and was then celebrating its centenary.  He recalls that some of the most beautiful structures fell to development.  Books called Lost Toronto and Toronto – No Mean City chronicled the carnage; and many other buildings lost their incredible wooden ornamentation.  By the early eighties the worst was over; conservationists had overcome.  It became once again fashionable to own one of the city’s vast stores of tall and delightfully ornamented residential beauties.  Property values justified restoration, and to underscore the antique phenomenon, the Victorian house became the ultimate antique.  Joe bought his first Victorian in 1978 – a turreted Queen Anne overlooking Lake Ontario in Toronto’s west end.  After three Victorian restorations, he acknowledged the need for restoration woodwork and in 1980 incorporated his company, Gothom Inc.Twenty seven years later Joe Colucci’s activities still betray a partial dependence on restoration and reproduction work.  His prime focus however is art, pure and simple.  Convinced of the power of “fret” or “grille” work to convey beauty and drama – stylized or realistically – he tries to incorporate some form of it into almost everything he creates.  Whether darkly silhouetted or gaily painted, in historical or contemporary settings Joe’s distinctive work, as evidenced by the following short collection of photos, still leaves me quite breathless.


[Fig 1] The Lambton House or tavern, a popular watering hole until the early sixties, was restored almost twenty years ago according to original specifications.  The most notable element in this porch is the hand-carved bracketing, which features a Gothic style quatrefoil design surrounded by two trefoils. This spiritual looking facade cleverly concealed the undoubtedly questionable activity conducted therein.


Victorian fretwork[Fig 2] The bargeboard (gable end ornament) on this heritage building was reproduced from pieces of the original.  Though substantively a copy of the original design, the engineering and construction of this multi-layered work was improved to make it stronger and more water-shedding. This is an important requirement in freeze/thaw environments.

The formal heavy moldings arranged geometrically in the upper layer starkly contrast this unusual combination of gothic tracery and colonial folk elements in the simply sawn lower layer. Both the paneled end posts and the king post are garnished with amusingly pompous-like turnings; this whole board is funny.  The main repetitive cutouts suggest bugs and the lower running trim suggests waves or water.  This makes one wonder if this imagery was accidental or intended, or only in the eye of the beholder.

Victorian fretwork

[Fig 3] This work, designed by Joe Colucci (henceforth marked DBJ), should score highly with all those romantics out there.  The delicate and perfectly articulated scrollwork depicted in this construction photo adorns a remarkable boathouse in The Muskokas, north of Toronto.  Outer repetitive elements, sporting flowers of choice, surround an enlarged centerpiece which uses posts decorated with Moorish pendants to support a center arch. The turned balls (barely visible in photo) attached to the spokes on the lower running trim are a nice whimsical touch.

Victorian fretwork

[Fig 4] This is one gable (DBJ) of many on the same home that features a ball and dowel arch suspended from a well proportioned king post and bracketed spire.  The Art Nouveau/ Oriental looking squiggles in the surrounding scroll work are interesting here but are better expressed in the related photos of porch bracketing shown next.

Victorian fretwork

[Fig 5]  These oversize elements, measuring about four feet by four feet, make quite an impression when so arranged over a very long porch.

Victorian fretworkThis lovely panel [Fig 6], still in the shop in this photo, was intended for the side porch.  Not depicted here, one large gable end on this house sports a matching bargeboard measuring three and one half feet wide and twenty six and one half feet down each side.  That is one huge piece of work!

Victorian fretwork

[Fig 7] This photo shows the front porch of Joe Colucci’s home/studio/office.  The imposing work was designed, made, and in this case, even painted and installed by him.  Note the mass and formality of the design; it appears to be a derivative of the renaissance revival style with large Tuscan columns and matching balusters. The dragon bellied corbels on each column top are absolutely lovely.  The arcading formed in each bay or opening is accomplished by large and heavy brackets that enclose the image of a gilded cross – most appropriate for the location of “Salvation Corners” in Owen Sound – the site of four late Victorian stone churches.  Standing on this porch feels very much like standing in the colonnaded cloister of a church.


[Fig 8]  Also in the shop, these colossal corbels (DBJ) were destined to support eaves on a new repro hillside home.  Measuring eight inches wide, the largest projects fifty-six inches and is forty-eight inches high. They are framed and feature large curved plinths, rosettes, large round turnings, enclosed panels and one of his favorite features- the famous dragon’s belly.  This photo is the last one depicting exterior work.

[Fig 9]  Moving on to interior decorations this arched piece (DBJ)  was redesigned from a pattern in the Universal Design Book of 1904 and displays a stunning array of beads, dowels, small turnings and discs; acting almost as a crown for a ghoulishly scrolled centerpiece. I have seen this piece and can testify how incredibly it plays different light and how powerfully it affects space and mood.


Almost as powerful is the smaller piece [Fig 10].  In this example (DBJ), the beads are intersected by dowels along two axis.  This interlocking pattern influences the design possibilities as well as increasing the assembly difficulty.


[Fig 11] This commemorative plaque (DBJ) shows the true exuberance of Joe’s “re-nouveau” scrollwork in a Christian setting.  The importance and relationship of the frames to the subject is clearly visible in this riotous scrollwork rife with symbolism.  As it turns out, this was a study for the much larger work depicted in [Fig 16].  Note the brass plate, the rosewood buttons, the red velvet backdrop and the stylized depiction of the church (from a photo.  The light colored background is made of quarter cut white oak and the dark overlays are of black walnut.

fretwork[Fig 12] This flamboyant free standing piece (DBJ) called “Totem” was designed for the foyer in a home.  The gilded base (not visible here) sits on the lower level while the medallion, featuring an imagined view of Georgian Bay looking east toward Blue Mountain, is viewed from the upper level.

As in the last piece, the frame components are as important as the subject. The puzzling asymmetrical spire toggles between a birdlike form and a lightning strike, depending on the view.


[Fig 13] depicts the original schematic line drawing presented to the client.

fretwork fretwork
[Figures 14 and 15] show the amazing details of this “Totem” sculpture.  Holding it aloft is a sleepy two-headed carved lion.  Down below a strikingly sculpted wolf-like creature cradles and protects the medallion.


[Fig16] Standing eight feet tall, this art work (DBJ) is derived from the plaque in [Fig 11].  It is an elaborately designed marriage of wood, gilt, stained glass and jewels. Though never built, it was intended to be Joe Colucci’s definitive Christian piece.  It may be difficult to understand at this small scale so zoom in if you can.  The realistic depictions of three episodes in the life of Christ will astound you – there is even a real Biblical town portrayed in each scene.  The frame scrollwork at the sides depicts the serpent and herald angels; at the top it spins itself into a dazzling representation of the risen Christ.

To conclude, there is perilously little that Joe Colucci cannot make.  Lately he has been back on the “architectural follies” bandwagon and is designing himself a house that looks like an owl, in the same spirit as the elephant in Cape May.  I am hoping Joe will make me a Victorian bed. If you have a project, particularly if it is artistic or challenging, he will consider it.  Photos or drawings or measurements may be required.  To contact Joe Colucci personally, call (519) 371-8345 or email him at  The physical office address is Gothom Inc., 963 4th Ave E., Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada N4K 2N9.

Victorian Home For Sale

By Marcela Mortensen & Kris Gunderman

Victorian for Sale
“You truly feel transported to another time
in history when you walk into his breathtaking
3,632 square feet home.”

home for saleLocated in charming Millersburg, Pennsylvania, approximately 25 miles north from Harrisburg, PA, this magnificent Victorian stlye house was built in 1860, for Doctor Ulrich, a family physician and surgeon, who kept his office in the parlor. The Victorian house remained in this family until the 1940s, and was subsequently occupied by five different doctors; the last doctor who owned it, was drafted into service during World War II.

home for sale
The property was reclaimed by its present owners in 1980, Clifford and Betty Miller. The Miller’s undertook a complete restoration of the house in the 1990s.  All woodwork throughout the entire home was restored to its original condition.  New wiring, plumbing, and insulation were replaced throughout the entire house. A modern day 4-zone heating system, central vacuum, and intercom system were installed. Betty and Clifford’s goal was to add some modern conveniences, while preserving the character and historic value of this property.
victorian for sale
This magnificent Victorian house has a beautiful front porch, two turrets above the slate roof, five entry doors, and too many other beautiful details to describe in a few lines.

home for sale

You truly feel transported to another time in history when you walk into this breathtaking 3,632 square feet home.  Its stained glass window and transoms, beautiful oak woodwork, raised inlay ceiling in the entrance hall, and hardwood floors, welcome as you as walk in the stately front door.

home for sale

Wonderful view from front door of the period staircase
with stained glass window.

home for sale

The butler’s pantry, pocket doors, and built-in china closets
welcome you into the dining room. 
Pocket Doors Restored Pocket Doors

Built-in China Closet


antique furniture

Entrance to Living Room

antique furniture

One of the stained glass windows in the Living Room.

Stair-case overlooking Dining Room.

antique furniture

Stained glass window at stair-case.

Stair-case from upstairs.

Stair-case from upstairs.

Fireplace in entrance hall.
Another fireplace.

This Victorian house has 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths. Furthermore,
it has a balcony out back that is accessible from one of the bedrooms.

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3

The Victorian house is located in a residential area and the property sits on a 0.23 acre lot. It has a huge unfinished attic, that could easily be finished. It also has a detached five bay garage with a two bedroom apartment above the garage; the driveway is finished with pavers. A pleasant surprise awaits you in every corner of this gorgeous home!
279 Center Street
Millersburg, Pennsylvania 17061

For more information about this home, contact either
Marcela Mortensen or Kris Gunderman.Marcela Mortensen  (717) 439-8997
Kris Gunderman  (717) 503-5281
Jack Gaughen Realtor ERA5050 Linglestown Rd.
Harrisburg, PA 17112
Office: (717) 652-6015


Historic Houses

Historic House: The Hammond House

Historic House: The Hammond House

Written by Bill Norton

Historic House: The Hammond House


In August of 1995 I acquired the historic house, the Hammond House from the Calvert Chamber of Commerce and the Robertson County Historical Society. The processes that brought the house to me were about as strange as the history of the house itself, and, indeed those two stories are intertwined.

Historic House: The Hammond House
Historic House: The Hammond House, TX, c.1909

Historic House: The Hammond House, TX, c.2006
Historic House: The Hammond House

It all begins during the days of Reconstruction. In 1870, by an act of the State Legislature, the county seat of Robertson County was moved to Calvert, Texas. This was the fourth county seat, and, perhaps in hopes of making Calvert the last, the Commissioners began to build a beautiful and impressive jail and had plans for a courthouse nearby. Alas, in 1879 the county seat was again moved to Franklin, this time as the result of a vote in a local election. The courthouse in Calvert was never built, but the jail, now known as the Hammond House, stands today.

Historic House: The Hammond House
Historic House: The Hammond House, TX, c.1909

Historic House: The Hammond House


Historic House: The Hammond House

After the cells were removed and sent off to the new jail in Franklin, the building was sold to a local man named Andy Faulkner who then turned it into a hotel. We believe it was Faulkner who made the major changes to the part of the building that was originally used as the cell room.

Historic House: The Hammond House


In 1885 Faulkner sold the house to Robert Brown who used it as his residence, and eventually sold it to my great grandmother, Fannie Lee Hammond, in 1909. Fannie Lee, or Nannie as she was better known, raised her family in the downstairs and rented the upstairs to boarders. My father and his brothers and sisters were all raised in the house. My grand father died in the house in 1963, and his heirs sold it to the Calvert Chamber of Commerce, which in turn deeded it to the Robertson County Historical Society. The RCHS valiantly tried to turn the building into a house museum, but eventually felt it best to deed it back to the family, and the only one interested in taking it was me (or “I” for you grammarians).

Historic House: The Hammond House

Historic House: The Hammond House


Wait a minute; I thought it was a courthouse, not a jail?

Even the Texas Historical Commission sign in the front says it was a courthouse. Well, all my life I thought it was a courthouse also, and so have at least the last four generations of those who lived there despite the fact that two well-researched books on the history of Robertson County stated unequivocally that it was a jail.

Historic House: The Hammond House
Cell Room. This room contained the main cells for the prisoners. The diagonal line between the middle and right doors is the ghost of the stairs to the second level of cells.

When my great-grandmother bought the buildings in 1909 it was assumed that the main building had been the old Robertson County Courthouse building, and the smaller building immediately behind it had been the jail. That made a lot of sense actually. First of all it’s hard to imagine a small county of limited resources and people building such a grand building to house criminals. Then there was the fact that two of the windows in the smaller building had bars on them. That pretty obviously makes that building a jail, doesn’t it? Finally, if this was supposed to be the old jail, then where was the old courthouse? Don’t you need a courthouse before you can start putting people in jail?

Historic House: The Hammond House

Well, apparently folks back then took their jails seriously. When Calvert became the county seat the first thing the County Commissioners did was to set about building a jail – the courthouse could wait. In fact for the entire time that Calvert was the county seat the courthouse was simply the upstairs of a building in downtown Calvert that they rented from Jacques Adoue. The jailhouse was the priority. The way jails worked back then was to have the sheriff and his family live in the front of the building while the prisoners stayed in cells inside a large back room. This way there would almost always be someone there to watch after the prisoners, and the sheriff’s wife could prepare their meals.

Historic House: The Hammond HouseWhen the county seat was moved to Franklin a few years later the Commissioners followed the same process – jail first, courthouse later. In fact the old jail in Franklin is laid out exactly as the Hammond House was originally.

Hmmm… well, that still doesn’t explain the barred windows on the smaller building.

That one had me stumped for a while. One of the first things that we did when we started restoring the house was to scrape off most of the plaster that had been applied to the inside walls. This uncovered the ghosts of a couple of small windows in the cell room. One of the ghosts was quite distinct and perfectly matched the frame of the barred windows in the smaller building.

Historic House: The Hammond House
Ghost of original jail window.. Here you can see where an original
jail window was located.

Here’s what I think happened. . .

After the building ceased to be needed as a jail it was converted into a hotel. The hotel owner, Andy Faulkner, had no need for the large one and a half story room that the prisoners had been kept in, so he set about making the room a full two stories and added large, impressive windows in place of the little jail windows. Faulkner was too frugal to throw the jail windows away so he reused them in the new building he was erecting in back. The downstairs of that building would serve as the kitchen and the upstairs as the manager’s apartment.

Historic House: The Hammond House
Relocated Jail Window. Two of the jail windows were relocated to the
kitchen building. You can still see the holes on the frame where the bars went.

What about the carriage house?

Historic House: The Hammond HouseWell, I don’t know too much about it yet. I assume it was built by Andy Faulkner for his hotel guests, but since I haven’t started any real work on it I can’t be sure.

What’s the deal with the big trench you dug around the inside of the first floor?

In the 1970s and 1980s an effort was made to turn the building into a house museum. One of the things they did was to tear out the pine flooring and pour a concrete slab. With the crawl space now gone there was no place for the moisture in the ground to go, so over time it was absorbed by the relatively soft bricks in a process called rising damp. This caused serious damage to the bricks and especially to the mortar. We considered removing the entire slab but decided that we could solve the problem by digging the trench to provide a cavity for the moisture to evaporate into before it reached the brick footings.

 This Historic House Is For Sale or Lease!Excellent Bed & Breakfast Opportunity*

For the past ten years this magnificent house has been lovingly and meticulouslyrestored by Bill Hammond Norton, the great-grandson of one of the early owners, Fannie Lee Hammond, and it’s now ready for you.

This is no ordinary property:

As a bed and breakfast it offers these excellent features:

  • Location:

    • 34 miles from College Station, Texas A&M, and the George Bush Presidential Library

    • Mid-point between Dallas and Houston

    • Less than three hours from most of Texas’ major population and economic centers (Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio)

    • Set in the residential heart of Calvert

  • Rooms:

    • 3 large bedrooms each with a private bath

    • 2 large downstairs rooms that could be used as bedrooms with shared bath

    • A “manager’s apartment” with private bath and kitchenette

    • A large downstairs room for receptions, murder mysteries, etc.

    • A kitchen area large enough to accomodate a commercial kitchen

  • Sits on an entire city block (2.1 acres) – perfect for wedding receptions

  • Grounds include a historic gazebo and historic carriage house

  • Backs up to a beautiful historic cemetery

  • All new plumbing, wiring and CACH

Visit the website for more information at:

The Hammond House B&B
604 Elm Street
P.O. Box 982
Calvert, Texas 77837

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey.
Reproduction Number: HABS TEX,198-CALV,4-

#1. National Park Service Historic American Building Survey, Texas A&M University, 1986. Drawn by: P Kenny, M Marshall, A Ray.
#2. National Park Service Historic American Building Survey, Texas A&M University, 1986. Drawn by: L Floth.
#3. National Park Service Historic American Building Survey, Texas A&M University, 1986. Drawn by: B Thomas.
#4.  National Park Service Historic American Building Survey, Texas A&M University, 1986. Drawn by: K Gibbons.
#5.   National Park Service Historic American Building Survey, Texas A&M University, 1986. Drawn by: K Gibbons.
#6. National Park Service Historic American Building Survey, Texas A&M University, 1986. Drawn by: S King Yiu, M Marshall, B Thomas.
#7.  National Park Service Historic American Building Survey, Texas A&M University, 1986. Drawn by: L Floth, B Thomas.