Photo courtesy Flickr
The neighborhood is developing at warp speed. In less than a year, I’ve witnessed salvors at work on two familiar buildings. The good news is that salvage is happening at all. The bad news is that it’s like watching a slow hurricane in action.
I was surprised last July to find that simply removing the Doric porch pillars from an ordinary boxy turn of the twentieth century two-story house left it looking like nothing at all. The only grace in the design had been at the entry, and the salvage crew left much useful, irreplaceable wood behind.
I was flabbergasted to discover yesterday that the splendid “early lumber baron” mansion around the corner is just as lovely shorn of its Corinthian columns, shutters, and other refinements as it was when it was intact. Perhaps even more lovely, since the essential proportions of the structure stand free of cultural reference points.
Salvage crews are taking every usable thing they can remove, including some of the precious original cedar siding, milled from six-hundred year old trees. A landscaper is salvaging the garden, one corner of which was occupied by a zen monk who lived in a caretaker’s cottage.
I can put my knowledge of Buddhism on the slip of paper from a fortune cookie, but I recall a formative quote from, I think, the heart sutra, that says something about not wanting to live in a land that distinguishes between the beautiful and the ugly. That’s been helpful, lately.