Water tanks

Here are three interesting and rather ornamental examples of 19th century tanks that captured rainwater runoff from house rooftops — all in Louisiana. All photos by Frances Benjamin Johnston via the Carnegie Survey of the South, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Braeme House, Clinton, Louisiana, 1938; structure built 1834.

Burnside Plantation, Ascension Parish, Louisiana, 1938; built 1840.

San Francisco, St. John’s Parish, Louisiana, 1938; built 1849-1850 in the Steamboat Gothic Style. The tanks are at the sides of the house.

Some outbuildings

According to the authors of Louisiana Buildings: 1720-1940, “it was the custom in French Louisiana to have separate housing for the young men of the family as they grew older. Always within the house grounds and sometimes actually connected to the house, a garçonnière was a way of adding living space without the inconvenience or necessity of modifying the original plan.”

This garçonnière at Burnside Plantation, Ascension Parish, Louisiana, was built about 1840. (All photos by Frances Benjamin Johnston via the Carnegie Survey of the South, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; all taken in the 1930s.)

Other often pretty outbuildings in the south included pigeonnieres or dovecotes. “Domestic pigeons had value not only as ornamental birds and a delicacy, but as a source of fertilizer.”

Shirley Plantation, Charles City County, Virginia.

Hill Plantation, Wilkes County, Georgia.

Uncle Sam Plantation, St. James Parish, Louisiana; built 1836.

Riverlake Plantation, Point Coupee Parish, Louisiana.

Finally, no pre-twentieth century house could be without one of these little buildings:

Privy, Great Chimney House, Lexington, Georgia.

Privy, Reveille House, Richmond, Virginia.

Privy, Poplar Forest, Lynchburg, Virginia.

Friday miscellany

The porch of Burnside Plantation in 1938, by photographer Frances Benjamin Johnson for the Carnegie Survey of the South.


The Washington Post has an interesting, and rather sad, article (and colorful slide show), here, about the once-great floating gardens of Xochimilco in Mexico City. Although it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, “the ancient plots and their life-giving canals are weedy and abandoned, overrun by cattle, invaded by exotic fish, sucked dry by urban sprawl — and a dozen agencies of government have failed to save one of the wonders of the world.”

Anne Raver in The New York Times writes about Nancy Goodwin’s celebrated Montrose Gardens in winter, here. The slide show includes a photo of her lath house, which has been on my list of favorite garden structures since I saw it in Garden Design in the 1990s.

In urban landmark news, the first Starbucks on the East Coast, at Wisconsin and Idaho Avenues, N.W., in Washington, D.C., has closed. The building it occupied will soon be demolished. However, The Huffington Post reports, here, that the new, mixed-use development will still have a Starbucks (whew!). In the meantime, if you visit the nearby National Cathedral’s Bishop’s Garden, you can get coffee (and fudge) in the gift shop.

(Also, a slideshow in the header of the National Cathedral’s website, here, has some revealing photos of the earthquake damage of last summer.)

This link from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the University of Texas at Austin displays a map of the U.S. Click on a state and you get a list of native plants suitable for that region. Also, here’s an interesting perspective on the honey bee as a pollinator of American native plants, at Garden Rant.

Finally, if you need a reminder to always be alert to possibilities for design, click here.