I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Year with Bluestone: Carlton cottage

Now that I am often walking to and from work, I'm getting to know lots of the streets in Carlton and North Carlton again. This is a house in Palmerston Place, just off Swanston St, and opposite Newman College. It's unusual for its street frontage. Even in this little pocket of quite small cottages, it has not even a narrow verandah. But most remarkable is the layer of red brick on top of the bluestone.

If you go to Google Maps, you can see the house in its context, with its bluestone lane to the right.

It's hard to know when the brick layer was added, without looking into paper records at the library (and thanks to John Ganim for bringing my attention to the State Library's archive) but clearly the bricks are an attempt to raise the very low roofline.

From the right, you can see the original roofline and how it has been raised.

In the past, the whole house was painted: I found this photo on a generic real estate site. It looks as if it was taken in the eighties, when peach and apricot were the colours of domestic architecture, inside and out, and when any heritage interest in bluestone was subordinate to the aesthetic unity of having the house all the one colour and capitalising on the higher roof level.

The house was possibly white washed or painted quite early on, given that the patterning of the bluestone is pretty irregular. There are lots of tiny little stones filling up the spaces between the larger bricks. Perhaps the cottage was made of left over stones, which would have been much cheaper.

I like my photo of the corner: I took it because I like the geometry of bluestone meeting bluestone, but I see that it shows the larger blocks have been used to stabilise the corners, and also to determine the horizontal lines: the lines of little blocks have been used to maintain those horizontal lines.

Childhood memory: I was about eight, I guess, or perhaps a little younger. My parents were driving us around Carlton, probably driving past Queen's College where my father had been a student, and we drove past the similar small houses in Swanston St, opposite the university, and we all marvelled at how tiny they were, and where "the poor people" lived. At this time we were living in all the suburban grandeur of a manse in Strathmore, with a front garden with grass, a brick fence and a nature strip, the essentials of domestic life to my childish eyes:

Now, of course, house prices have soared, and the little bluestone cottage would command a very hefty price, probably much more than the old manse.

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