Sunday, February 24, 2013

"They loved their houses"

One of the cool things about doing this project and having a website/blog is that people reach out to you. It has become a way that like minds and people interested in this field have found me. Last week I met with a Danish professor, Helle Stenum, who was visiting St. Croix and teaches cultural and migration studies at Roskilde University.
Helle Stenum, Danish professor of Culture and Identity
She was interested in talking about my project and the links between Denmark and the Virgin Islands. I took her to see the house. I was commenting on the renovation and the craftsmanship in the buildings, specifically the beading that is found in the rafters and the siding. Many of this work was done by hand. Today machines can do this work, but it can be still expensive to reproduce. I chose not to replicate a lot of these details because of the time and expense, but am happy that the older part of the house still has some.
Vernacular details of Christiansted house. Hand-planed beading in exterior wall.

She looked around and said, "They loved their houses". I paused. "Yes, they did," I responded. It was such profound moment for me. A simple realization. They. Loved. Their. Houses. The details, the craftsmanship, the time, the care: they loved them. To put those kinds of details in a simple 100-200 square foot house, shows a level of pride that is awe inspiring. Let us remember that.

Vernacular details of 18B East Street. Hand-planed beading in rafter.