Vintage landscape: birds’ house view

Farmhouse birdhouse, via Library of Congress“Birdhouse and landscape at an old plantation home [probably this one] near Eutaw, Alabama,” May 1941, by Jack Delano, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Farmhouse birdhouse 2, via Library of Congress

As I was reading about the history of birdhouses, I learned that shelters like the one above, which mirror a builder’s own house or other nearby architecture, were common in Turkey from the 15th century (and probably earlier).

Their compassionate purpose was to provide winter protection to non-migratory birds.  Many were quite ornate and built right onto the sides of “mosques, madrasas, libraries, houses, inns, baths, tombs, bridges, churches, synagogues, and even palaces,” according to the Turkish Cultural Foundation website.*

In Europe, during the same period, birdhouses were built from baskets, wood, and clay as traps for collecting eggs or for capturing the birds themselves.

In colonial-era North America, both Native Americans and European settlers used birdhouses to attract and increase the local bird population for hunting and insect control.

Pines in the distance begin to brighten,
deep blue to something like green.

Everything winged must be dreaming.

Susan Ludvigson, from “Grace


*There is also a nice photo here of the very large birdhouses that were placed in Istanbul parks in the 1960s. Last December, I saw many small birdhouses in the trees along the Hippodrome, put there by the local government.

Vintage landscape: sunflowers

Miss. house surrounded by sunflowers, via LoC“An old house almost hidden by sunflowers, Rodney, Mississippi,” July 1940, by Marion Post Wolcott on Kodachrome color film, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division on flickr.

I like the little birdhouse on the very tall pole.

Rodney was once a prosperous port on the banks of the Mississippi — until a large sand bar appeared  in the 1870s and changed the course of the river. The city was left two miles from the water.

By 1933, there were fewer than 100 people living there.  Today, it is considered a ghost town.

The Sunday porch: rustic pavilion

Rustic building, Philadelphia, Library Company of PhiladelphiaThis whimsical shelter was located on a ridge in Philadelphia overlooking the Schuylkill River.  It was “one of the thatch-roof rustic pavilions installed at the [Fairmount Water Works] between 1864-1866 as a decorative improvement,” according to the website Philadelphia Architects and Buildings.

The photo, via Library Company of Philadelphia Commons on flickr, is dated ca. 1870.

In the lower left corner of the picture, you can just see one of the water work’s Classical Revival buildings at the river’s edge below. They housed and disguised the pumping equipment of the city’s water supply system from 1815 until 1911.

I love the birdhouses near the top of the pavilion’s roof.

The little buildings seem to have been replaced during the 20th century by white gazebos more closely matching the style of the other water works buildings, which now house a restaurant and interpretive center.