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A Style and a Technology

I was in Bushwick recently and took that picture of three old houses. Most likely they were identical when built, or nearly so; all have been modified. The house on the right has lost all of its trim, the house in the middle has lost its cornice and (I think) has those weird extended hoods added over the windows, and the house on the left got modern windows. If you add up the probably original parts of the left and center facades, you get a sense of the old appearance.

The cornice on the left and the brackets at the main door in the middle border on Carpenters’ Gothic. Here’s a close-up:

The cornice is quite intricate, with swags, two different size brackets, and dentils. The door brackets have, for my want of a better term, spoked wheels in them. All of this finish carpentry could have been done at any time in the last two or three thousand years, but it would have required a very skilled carpenter. This kind of thing shows up in the second half of the nineteenth century with the invention of the powered jigsaw. That technology allowed ordinary laborers to replicate the work of skilled carpenters and led to houses like these.

I propose that the style be called Jigsaw Gothic.