Sac Vernac

Posted on February 14, 2011 – 3:49 PM | by gee whz
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I have been trying to blog at least every other Monday. What I am interested in may not float everyone’s boat, but I want to focus on Sacramento’s vernacular landscape. Or in other words, the boring shit that people don’t really pay attention to. Your bus benches, your signposts, what have you.  Hands down, the best class I took in college, was taught by Paul Groth, whose main interest was ordinary architecture.  I wrote a 25 page paper on curbs for that class. No joke. Curbs. 25 pages. Unfortunately it was pretty crappy and got and deserved a C. I would love a do-over on that. Since that class I have kept my eyes open and paid attention to the mundane. So that will be the boring-to-some Mondays.  There will be some exciting stuff too. For people who like exciting.

Here is a rad old barn that is in the alley between P & Q and 17th & 18th.

If you happen to be interested in ordinary cultural landscapes as well, you may also want to read some articles by Professor Groth’s mentor J.B. Jackson.

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  1. 6 Responses to “Sac Vernac”

  2. avatar

    By OldManFoster on Feb 14, 2011 | Reply


  3. avatar

    By Matt J. on Feb 14, 2011 | Reply

    Sharing the curb love:

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    By gbomb on Feb 14, 2011 | Reply

    That’s cool, Matt! Thanks.

    I have been trying to think of some of the curb topics that I wrote about. There was the higher the curb, the older it is. Curb cuts and the handicap rights movement, and “No dumping, this drain to ocean (river)” signs. There had to have been more. I think the paper is stored on a zip drive somewhere. Which means lost forever to me.

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    By William Burg on Feb 15, 2011 | Reply

    I am now totally jealous. Paul Groth’s “Living Downtown” is an absolutely terrific book, one I first read while I was working as a case manager with downtown Sacramento’s SRO hotel residents (SRO hotels are the subject of the book.) That one book was a huge influence, and now that you have mentioned his mentor, I guess I’ll have to go read that too!

    And yes, vernacular architecture is often really amazing stuff that becomes even rarer than “high style” architecture, because it gets ignored, isn’t considered important, or is considered too common to be worth anyone’s attention. There are a few remaining examples of Sacramento’s old industrial architecture like canneries and workshops, and things like alley barns, warehouses and garages (including one remaining Buffalo Brewery warehouse, possibly the only standing vernacular relic of the Buffalo/Ruhstaller brewery empire) hidden in corners of the city. My advice is to take photos of them now–they may not be around the next time you take a shortcut through that alley. The ravages of time, fate and development take their toll on such things.

    Vernacular things to look for: So far as I know, there is one horse ring still left in a downtown curb in front of the library, and one standing PG&E trolley pole along 21st Street. There are other such treasures awaiting discovery, at least for a little while.

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    By Peej on Feb 18, 2011 | Reply

    Dig this

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    By livmoe on Feb 18, 2011 | Reply

    Boring! No way!!! Check out all these comments! Or maybe this is an all points nerd alert… who can say.

    It’s funny identifying this barn as a barn. Within the context of the city I sometimes see structures like this and forget about their original utility. It feels good to know they still exist.

    @BIll I just found another trolley poll on R Street over by Verge. It makes my day everytime I walk by it.

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