Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Favorite Va-Hi Apartment - 1928 with Petty Porticos and a Whatchamacallit

It's a beautiful little apartment building on Frederica near the library, one of many such in the neighborhood. They didn't do this level of detail after the Depression, not in small apartments.

You have walk or stop your car in the right place to see these little porticos.

It's narrow and deep. The lot is only 60' wide. The facade only 31 feet. The entrances are on one side, an alley on the other.

I look for excuses to go this way.

Folks build these forms, shapes, and proportions today. But they "abstract out" the detailing and the related expense. Let's hope this one has modern fire protection.

So what about that Whatchamacallit?

I know you should put your decorative money where it shows. You have to go down the alley side to see this.

What do you call it?


  1. Love the title....and now I want to know how it's called!

  2. I do not know, but await a comment from someone who does.

  3. My first answer was a "pent roof" but those occur between the first and second floor, and this one is at the top of the building. I'm between a "rooflet" and a "canopy" but I don't think either of those are quite it either. This is going to drive me crazy...

    1. Don't teach this in architecture school any more? Historic preservation school?

  4. no idea but an interesting building, been so long since I heard that word whatchamacallit.

  5. I saw this coming in the fourth image because it is so unexpected. I would have thought there would have originally been a low pitched roof, not visible from the street. This is only a guess, but I suspect the strange roof element was added to conceal something, perhaps cooling units or a roof access hatch. I am not sure that this element has a name, but I would describe it as a 'raked parapet', meaning a sloped low wall roof feature.

  6. thanks to Greg Shue @SHUEDA ( ) "looks like a parapet with a pent eave, to me..."

    thanks to Robert Tretsch ( ) "A very badly done mansard"

  7. Had to come back to see the answer! Parapet with a pent eave is a great solution...and I agree it looks added on. No OSB in the 1920's, as evidenced in the side shot where you can see the dreadful material deteriorating...badly...

  8. I think, it's original, they saved money by stopping the whatchamacallit where it can't be seen from the street. They've since torn down the building/house next door to build a mid-modern branch bank. You can see the whatchamacallit transition from the instant banker.

  9. I believe it's called a mansard roof.


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