Monday, December 27, 2010

A visit to Tuscaloosa, my encounter with green vandals, and things I love.

We were in T-town this weekend for the newest grandbaby's christening (welcome, Metyl!) and I did a double take as we drove past this place on the way to a relative's home. MCM, but with reference to the earlier Streamline Moderne style. Probably stucco over concrete block. A family member tells me that it was originally built for a college professor and sports terrazo flooring throughout. It comes up for sale regularly, then doesn't sell, so is leased out again for the school year. It's occupied now so I didn't get too close. Nifty place.



And just because I thought you would enjoy it, something I came across on a trip to the post office a few weeks ago . . .


It's not every day that we in small-town Alabama see school buses in anything but an upright position. And what are those bins across the parking lot?


Why, those are bins for plastics, glass, etc., because . . .


This is the town recycling center. If only all thugs and vandals could be this environmentally conscious.

And here are a few things I love. Just because.

My Sunbeam toaster, a wedding gift to Mom and Dad in 1960. Makes the best damn toast in three counties:


An awesome Chris Craft runabout, ca. 1958. It was for sale at a nearby dealer last summer:


My dad's 1949 Ryan Navion. 'nuff said:


Oh, the Navion is for sale. Let me know if you're interested.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another interesting find (satellite image style)

I should be troubleshooting the lighting issues on the Christmas tree, but instead I sit here perusing the greater Birmingham area via satellite images. Man, I love these satellites. As you probably know, or as you have probably seen from prior posts on this blog, MCM architecture in Birmingham is largely hidden from view. It is primarily custom, architect-designed, and built by folks who can afford to sequester themselves among the creatures of the wild. So driving around with a camera only gets you part of the picture. The progeny of Sputnik gets you the rest.

You may not even know Cahaba River Estates exists. But now that you do, you'll realize what a rare gem it is. Turn between Carmax and Wal-Mart on 150 in Hoover and start driving around. These folks have acreage, horses, and many of them are on the Cahaba. Some of it is Jefferson County, some is Shelby County, all is unincorporated. Yes, there are some McMansions back there, but there are some swell mid-century places as well (though of a more traditional bent). Then there is this place:


Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of it. The part of the structure to the rear almost looks like an older, traditional home. But the portion facing toward the river has a definite modern vibe. There are the clerestory windows. And then the three descending tiers of . . . of something I can't really identify.


But it's pretty interesting. Some wandering around on the interwebs tells me that the owner participates in Mustang racing, which probably explains all the parking and what might be a huge garage toward the rear.


Does anybody have the scoop? I'll bet they throw a heck of a party!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another Mid-Century Mystery -- what is this place?

OK, you people are letting me down. Don't sit there all lazy in your Eames Lounge chairs and make me do all the work. I begged for your assistance in getting the scoop on a mystery residence once before. This was the place:

Drummond 1

No help.

Not a peep.

I learned the Cathay cathedral on Drummond Lake was indeed in the Drummond family, but NONE of you have managed to wrangle me an invite. Here's your chance to redeem yourselves. You've seen the gate to this place on Old Leeds road, just across from Regency East Drive. I know you've seen it. I know you've wondered about it.

Osborne gate

The gate itself is sort of Roy-Rogers-meets-The-Last-Samurai. So you know something interesting has to lurk beyond. Indeed it does. I just have no idea what it is. Did you know there is a lake down there? Osborn Lake? And this . . . structure. I hesitate to call it a house, because it looks more like a World's Fair pavillion, or perhaps an Air Force Officer's Club. But the parking is limited, so I don't think it is intended for heavy use. Oh, and there is a swimming pool, a wooded statuary garden of some kind, and a decagonal (surely that is a word) barn.

Osborne 1

Seriously, what is the deal? Is this some private club for those Eyes Wide Shut parties? Perhaps a hush-hush rehab retreat for the rich and tortured? Just a DIY remodel that got seriously out of hand?

Osborne 2

Tax records show that the owner is one Mr. Osborn. (I'm sensing a pattern here with the lakes bearing the same names as the property owners -- I'm insightful that way). Mr. Osborn apears to be a real estate developer, and there is some reference to a private club. So somebody sponsor me, already. I feel like having a cocktail and maybe taking a paddleboat out for a spin.