Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Because It's There

That's supposed to be what a climber said, when asked why they climbed the mountain. An offhand kind of answer, saying little, yet saying much. But if explaining an elemental need, desire, ambition or impulse, how better to describe the reason? The mountain being there, being what it is: so high, visible for miles, seemingly unreachable, a beacon to the eye. It is there. I am here. I want to be there, be up there. This perhaps is the draw, the siren song of mountains.

There is a great mountain six miles away from my house. Broad based, surrounded by partnering foothills and reaching well above treeline. A mantle of snow clings to the steep upper features. A picturesque scene. You cannot escape seeing it from nearly any location in the city, the county, even beyond.

Rambling around in this 1920's house, I am amazed to note, not for the first time, that though generally well-appointed with windows, there is not a single one that affords a view of the great mountain. There is one tiny window in an upstairs bathroom, that teases the eye with a hint of the peak. How can that be?

I think of the time when the house was built. The title reveals that the owner was a woman. The building took its place on this street that was the end of the known city limits. The street was the starting point for parades, on the main drag a few blocks west. ( It is still considered the parade start point.) A copy of a faint plot plan with township lines reveals a development wherein the entire block was up for sale as lots.

This corner house with no view has a grand wraparound porch. In recent times I hear the neighbors and passers-by refer to it as "the big house." Smaller houses of varying architecture line the street. Victorian styling is well represented, but bungalow, saltbox, and modest variations on themes appear. Perhaps only one other house approaches the size of this one.

With its seemingly grand position on the street, I can't help but wonder what the original owner thought about the view potential. Did they attempt to site the house for a view, but hit a bureaucratic snag? Was the modest little house to the west built first, and did that dictate that the new house keep its facing windows small to meet some code? I somehow suspect codes were less in evidence at that time. Yet common sense might suggest that neighbors in closely spaced housing would avoid large windows peering over at each other. Perhaps cost was a factor; some fine features on the front of the house bear witness to the pride and means of the owner at that time, but budgets being what they are, it seems likely that cost savings were realized with smaller windows away from the front of the house.

I may never know why the view was dismissed in the planning and building of this house. I do know that it seems strange to me to have to walk down the front steps, and go stand in the middle of the street to see a sight that never fails to impress.

1 comment:

  1. I've since learned that the house to the west was built around 13 years before ours. So yes, it may have affected the siting of this house, built in 1920.